March 20, 2012

My Subconscious is Also Me

These days I’m reading an extremely difficult book. Difficult for me, because it has forced me to rethink my way of living, and working. “The Film Director’s Intuition” by Judith Weston is also the only book on cinema that is not giving me an obvious ‘sense of learning and accomplishment.’ And that, perhaps, is exactly the point that it wants to make.

We remain too obsessed with results and accomplishments, and an evident sense of growth and development, so much so that we hardly take time to think whether in this mad rush to feed our conscious mind we are taking sufficient care of the subconscious or not. I realized this only a couple of days ago – that my subconscious is also me. And do I know about it? Do I take care of it? Subconsciously, may be; consciously, hardly. I know I operate mainly from my left brain. I set deadlines for myself when no one does, and I always tend to discipline everything I do, painstakingly, obsessively. Suddenly, this book is forcing me to question something I so strongly believe in.

At this point, I must make it very clear, why I have been so blissfully confident about my methodical approach. It is a constant desire to make sure that everything, every little thing at work or in my life, remains under my control – not to dominate, but to supervise them. I do this not in a stressful way, but to remain stress-free. For close to four years now, I have been monitoring my finances, my studies, my work, even my swimming regimen, with such a minute detail that it would intimidate anyone. Keeping a daily record in the form of diary entries helps. Not taking any day off, at least trying my best not to, has made it a habit. If I’m not sleeping, I’m working, or reading, or watching a movie, or doing something of ‘value’. I don’t sit idle, rarely hang out with friends, have drastically cut down my phone conversations, and there is an unending feeling of being “productively occupied” all the time, which is the pain and the pride of my existence.

I won’t believe I have been doing it wrong. Not having trained professionally, it has been only up to me to study about cinema and film-making. So, I would say these years might be considered as the time I have spent in a film school, working really hard, and orienting myself for objective and evident growth. And perhaps, at the right time, and before it was too late, life has gifted me with this amazing book, where each page is forcing me to see everything from a different perspective.

For example, this book asks me to shut down my “auto-pilot”, to give myself the permission to fail, to take time off from everything and just day-dream, to learn to listen to others as if that is the most important thing in this world, to spend time with nature, and children – things that I hardly do. It advices exercises which do not have any immediate results, but which are supposed to nurture the intuition and the imagination, one of them being indulging in “stream of consciousness” or “free-association”. It has started to convince me that having a good chat with friends is not a waste of time, and that spending hours in a mall, observing people and imagining about their lives is a desirable and productive exercise.

I just finished the first of its three parts, which is called “Intuition, Ideas, and Imagination” and am convinced that as a writer-director I need to strike a balance between my intuitive right-brain and the logical left-brain and pay more attention to the world around me, in all its sensory and visual glory, than the internal, intellectual learning I have imposed happily upon myself. Before moving on to the next part of the book, which is “Script Analysis”, I have decided to take a break from it. Instead of studying more pages of it, and making notes, I would rather spend some time doing these exercises that it suggests.

In fact I’ve already started one.

Just a couple of days ago, when I was irreparably affected by the book’s insistence on unleashing the subconscious, I watched David Cronenberg’s latest ‘A Dangerous Method’ (2011). The film is on the founders of modern psychology – Carl Jung, Sabina Spielrein and Sigmund Freud, and talks about the ways of the subconscious. That night, I had a most weird dream, something that left me bewildered and shocked. The dream was disturbingly visual and had so many layers of possible interpretations that I still feel drained out thinking of it. Next morning, I decided to write down the description of that dream, without making any judgments. And have decided to do this as often as possible, to keep a track of all that my subconscious communicates with me, in order to understand the muted cries of this ignored child, which is very much me. It is an amazing coincidence that I had to watch this film on that very day, consolidating my desire to start listening to my subconscious immediately. It feels amazing to assume that life’s screenplay is always perfectly designed for the most rewarding journey, if not the desired destination. I am forced to believe, that the way I have lived all these years was as correct as the measures I’m now taking to modify my approach. Life is going to take care of me when I, consciously or subconsciously, forget to.


  1. When we meet, I will give you a short essay by Bertrand Russell, titled: "In Praise of Idleness" :)

  2. Still trying to absorb what's written above. Guess I will need to read that chapter.

  3. I truly believe. Life is really a coincidence.
    Just downloaded this movie. Going to watch it soon.

  4. I can very well relate to dreams as the communications of the subconscious.
    It would be great if you elaborated the concept of 'Free Association' in your later posts.

  5. @Warrier:
    I don't know how long it will take for me to elaborate this concept through a post. So here is a quick answer to your query:

  6. Hi Satyanshu, long time. You are getting better by the day. You have a wonderful conscious stream of thoughts and I must say, you are nurturing it very well. And even more praiseworthy is the way you express them. You are able to draw a holistic picture of the emotion inside you. The reader is compelled to read it. There is a commendable simplicity of language and a sense of articulation.
    I keep on reading your articles once in a while, though I dont comment very often because of my obviously limited knowhow about films. This article of yours impressed me very much because I was able to associate with thought process that you have talked about. I have been thinking about the subconscious mind and how it works and how it governs our intuitions and how intuitions are not just things coming out of thin air but truly the processed result of whatever we feed our brain and our senses. And you very rightly said, we need to take a break and think about what we are expreincing and what is being fed to the subconscious mind. You must have read a book called 'seven habit', which I could not read because of my own prejudiced thoughts, but one thing that it says in the first few pages is the need to differentiate between the 'urgent' and the 'important'. We are always bothered about the urgent things in life and often the whole life is spent in attending to the never ending urgencies.

    Well good work and keep it up. Drop in a mail sometimes about whats up in life....


  7. @ Arun Sir: Thank you for your kind praise. It is extremely encouraging. I hope this learning process never stops.
    Thanks again.