Spontaneity, Anxiety and the Moment — a passage from “Who Shall Survive?”

A passage from “Who Shall Survive?” — with a sketch to match.

Anxiety is a function of spontaneity. Spontaneity is, as defined, the adequate response to a present situation. If the response to the present situation is adequate-“fullness” of spontaneity-anxiety diminishes and disappears. With decrease of spontaneity anxiety increases. With entire loss of spontaneity, anxiety reaches its maximum, the point of panic. In the “warm up” of an actor to a present situation anxiety may move into two opposite directions; it may start with their striving to move out of an old situation without having enough spontaneity available to do so; or, the anxiety may set in as soon as some “external” force pushes them out of the old situation and leaves them hanging in the air. The terrifying thing for an actor is this wavering between a situation which they have just abandoned and to which he cannot return and a situation which they must attain in order to get back into balance and feel secure. The infant, immediately after birth is the illustration par excellence for this phenomenon. He cannot return to the womb, he has to stay within this new world, but he may not have enough spontaneity to cope with its demands. In such moments of complete abandonment it is imperative that he draws upon all his resources or that someone comes to his aid, an auxiliary ego. Another illustration is a soldier who is suddenly attacked by an overwhelming number of enemies, or the protagonist of the psychodramatic situation facing a group of unbelievers, a man in a frenzy, who acts to save his life.

Thinking through this process it is dialectically faulty to start with the negative, with anxiety. The problem is to name the dynamic factor provoking anxiety to emerge. Anxiety sets in because there is spontaneity missing, not because “there is anxiety,” and spontaneity dwindles because anxiety rises.

“Who Shall Survive?” pages 336-7


Digital Sketches – desire of the pen

Since my project ThousandSketches I have continued to sketch.  Digital painting – but I like the term sketch.  Many of these are on my art website. That site is still there but I’ve deprecated it and tried to integrate it into this blog.  It’s a bit of a mess. Still, this blog becomes an art blog when you click the Art Category. Digital Sketches delivers just my own work.

I’m warming up to posting more.  I’ve beed reflecting on the delicacy of nature, and the crudeness of humanity’s sometimes beautiful desire to transcend itself.  This began with the earth crosses…  natural textures of landscape cut by something I think of as human presence, fast and bold.

That’s 12 years ago. “Green Peace”

Here is a recent one – not in the earth cross series but maybe in a new one.

Maybe it is called “Science”, or “Civilisation”.  Playing on the theme of putting borders or frames around art.

Do I put these in the container?  or are they better left wild?

Itchy pen.






I called this an autopix when I did them. I could do the outline with my eyes shut.  Love to re-kindle.



Earth Crosses

The way up and the way down are one and the same – Heraclitus

I have these up somewhere from years ago, but I’m not maintaining that site.





Austin Kleon & doing art.

I’m a fan. I get his newsletter and calendars.

Look at this beautifully crafted blog post. Inspiring in content and also in form. This would win a blog Oscar if there were one.


Such a simple point. Do a little art everyday. Presented by a thousand art coaches, but here it is fresh and inspiring.


Now on a more personal more. I committed to work on my art book 15 minutes a day in January. Managed that for about 28 of the 31.

At day 28 I got tired. But more than that I got stuck. I wish I’d read his post then, but never mind, back on the wagon.

The interesting thing is that the book is about the hero’s journey. If you read Austin’s post you will see that he does not like the word journey for the art process. Making art is not linear.

But then again there is a pattern.

Once you are in that “special world” there is really no turning back and going forward there are just tests and ordeals. Until you get through, till you are on the road back.

No way am I through with my project.  I’m facing tests and ordeals. And here is a page I’ve got of just that.

This is reflexive moment on the journey.  I’m illustrating the trouble I’m in.  Back to groundhog day.


BTW there are plenty of blog awards.  One blogger of the year features the slogan Eat, Sleep, Blog, Repeat.