Cartography of the unseen

Among all the various hats I wear, it’s “Cartographer of the Unseen” that seems to grab most people's attention.

I always get a kick out of that because it’s my favorite description of who I am.

One of the main ways I create a Cartography of the Unseen as an artist and wordworker of poetry and stories is through having created the futuristic field of “poartry”. "Poartry" is a philosophy, pathway and practice of being creative for good. The practice of poartry is distinctive because it consciously, rigorously and skillfully wields the energy of words and visuals ethically through the disciplined, deep science and art of Energetic Ecology and Energetic Stewardship.

I have co-pioneered these two exciting fields of Energetic Ecology and Stewardship with my partner in life and creative collaboration and have invested decades of unique “energy awareness” and deep training in them to reveal the universal golden threads of good down through the ages that unite us all and the complex, beautiful ecosystems of energies that shape and impact our world and lives through my words, visual art and wisdom illumination.

This brings me to cartography of the unseen.

When I sit down to create, I “tune in” through a technique of creative energy science meditation - stilling and centralizing my awareness to connect with the subject of my creation. Like the Magic 8 Ball of old, the essence of my subject then floats into my awareness - usually visually, but sometimes through sound - as both the structures of energies behind the physical forms registered through the physical senses and an impressionistic interpretation of the physical forms themselves. The subjects that usually spark me are natural landscapes and ekphrastic (creating artworks in response to poetry and writing poetry in response to art) as “canvases” with which to explore, map and share the nature of existence and the reality of our interconnected world as a cartographer of the unseen - or more accurately, the “not-yet-seen”. More and more people are sensing that there is something more behind what we see and are using the language of “energy” to “read” a situation, a room, a social media post, a relationship…

As a “poartist” and cartographer of the unseen, I carefully curate what I ingest. I currently follow only two well-known creative commentators: the musician, Nick Cave, through his Red Hand Files, in which he answers questions from the public, and the writer, Robin Sloan, through his TRESPASSERS enewsletter.

Nick blows me away with his carefully considered and highly conscious use of words to share insight. Robin expands my horizons with the incredibly cool things he is doing to push the boundaries of “writing” and the incredibly cool stuff he finds that others are creating.

In one of Nick’s more recent Red Hand Files, he fielded a question about ChatGPT and shared this thought, which I think insightfully expresses the creative work and why so much of that work is an act of cartography of the unseen that may never be able to be enacted by machines:

What makes a great song great is not its close resemblance to a recognizable work. Writing a good song is not mimicry, or replication, or pastiche, it is the opposite. It is an act of self-murder that destroys all one has strived to produce in the past. It is those dangerous, heart-stopping departures that catapult the artist beyond the limits of what he or she recognises as their known self. This is part of the authentic creative struggle that precedes the invention of a unique lyric of actual value; it is the breathless confrontation with one’s vulnerability, one’s perilousness, one’s smallness, pitted against a sense of sudden shocking discovery; it is the redemptive artistic act that stirs the heart of the listener, where the listener recognizes in the inner workings of the song their own blood, their own struggle, their own suffering. This is what we humble humans can offer, that AI can only mimic, the transcendent journey of the artist that forever grapples with his or her own shortcomings. This is where human genius resides, deeply embedded within, yet reaching beyond, those limitations.

It may sound like I’m taking all this a little too personally, but I’m a songwriter who is engaged, at this very moment, in the process of songwriting. It’s a blood and guts business, here at my desk, that requires something of me to initiate the new and fresh idea. It requires my humanness. What that new idea is, I don’t know, but it is out there somewhere, searching for me. In time, we will find each other.

I’m not actually of the “suffering” and “limitations” school of creativity, though I totally understand what Nick is saying and that many creators wrestle through their sufferings into wellbeing through making art as a healing act. In my own art, visual art in particular, I set out with each creative act into the excitement of unknown territory - “the unseen”. It takes me places I could never go on my own, and the North Star compass of that trek into the territory marked in old maps by sea serpents and dragons is the knowledge and reality that the source of my inspiration, my collaborative muse and my consciousness-blowing guide is a wide, wide, wise universe - composed of physical stuff and refined gaseous energies and ethers - telling a story of which we know very little so far.