I Is for Idea

An IDEA is what lurks behind this blog (or any piece of writing)—urging the words forward.

So, writing about “idea”—when the idea of doing so was ITSELF an “idea”—well it’s kind of like the proverbial snake with its own tail in its mouth. (Or the Escher drawing of a hand drawing itself ...

http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Drawing-Hands-Posters_i122118_.htm )

What’s wrong with that? Some of the best thinking is “circular thinking,” according to my BlogHer friend Melanie motherofnine9. http://www.blogher.com/member/motherofnine9

In fact, we have been sending each other quotes and thoughts about the very feminine experience of (kind-of) ending up where we began ... but being different for having circled around an idea and made it our “own.”*

My “idea” here is to try to catch a glimpse of that little flame that powers the Bunsen burner of a finished piece, an article, a letter or blog, maybe even an act—the elusive “idea.”

The dictionary is not much help: “A thought or conception that potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity. 2. An opinion, conviction, or principle ... ”

I like the flame symbol better, the shape on a sign at our local utility company that makes it look like a happy little blue person with a pointed head who keeps our gas lines generously flowing.

Ideas are essential. We owe a lot to the ideas in our lives: they power our actions such as getting up in the morning and keeping to our work and routines—because the idea of not soldiering on, the other side of the quotidian coin—might have the face of “chaos.”

So, I think it’s worth paying attention to ideas—tracing our actions back to what got us started in a certain direction in the first place. It’s kind of like trying to solve a mystery along with a detective—a detective being what Ellery Queen called “a prophet in reverse.”

We’re mostly thinkers in reverse, acting and reacting in the moment as we have to. But by squinting to see the tracings underneath the finished drawings of our lives, we may encounter ideas that glow and can be useful to us again, because now we’re conscious—that wonderful word that signifies some progress has been made!

There is no “National Idea Day,” but if there were, I’d find a flag with a glowing lightbulb or a flame emblazened on it and celebrate!

 

*Melanie and I both love Emily Dickinson’s “Tell all the Truth/but tell it slant—/Success in Circuit lies./Too bright for our infirm Delight/the Truth’s superb surprise...” A circuit is of course a circle. http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/emilydickinson/1129.shtml

Kandinsky wrote that the circle is “the most modest form, but asserts itself unconditionally.” It is “simultaneously stable and unstable,” “loud and soft,” “a single tension that carries countless tensions within it.” ... a link to the spiritual plane.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/science/08angier.html?th&emc=th

“Every woman has her own little circle, and in it can use her influence for good, if she will.”  — From Louisa May Alcott’s novel Rose in Bloom.

 

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