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J Am Acad Psychoanal Dyn Psychiatry. 2007 Fall;35(3):351-71.

An inquiry into the sources of poetic vision: Part I -- the path to inspiration.

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  • 1Psychiatry, Mt Sinai School of Medicine, NY, USA.


An inquiry is made into the peculiar way artists come to know things. It is agreed that artists have an unusual access to unconscious material, but how they gain such access and what else informs their vision is further explored. Two conditions are found necessary to the artist's access: a limited awareness of his or her meaning and an altered state of consciousness brought on by a special form of play. The essential features of play are examined, including its social dimensions. The artist's vision is shown to arise from a free play between his own mind, the material he works in, and his audience. The artist's mind is informed by ideas and techniques available to her (her position in the history of ideas) and by her own unconscious concerns. The artist's vision is transformed by the play between his mind (conscious and unconscious), his subject, and his audience.

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