Charles Williams was a British polymath combining considerable skills as a poet, novelist, theologian, and literary critic. He was also a valued member of the famed Inklings writing circle and a powerful influence on Narnia creator, C. S. Lewis. Williams’ most famous biographer is Alice Mary Hadfield who, during widely spaced periods in her life, wrote two perceptive critical biographies filled with useful insights concerning his life and work. One of her most revealing penetrations has a bearing on existentialism.
You must regard your own emotionally important ideas with the respect due to proper authority. To be authentic, you must live by these defining and guiding ideas. (Photo: public domain)
I have written several posts about authentic will and illuminated its roots in the psyche. As a way of discovering what you will, I have put forward the idea of employing resonance. That is, look around for those things that stir feelings of joy, delight, bliss or enchantment and there you will find what you truly want (will). This is so, because what you see or experience is resonating with (stimulating) your emotionally important ideas, the origin of will. Notice that, while your will comes from within, what I am suggesting relies on external objects, situations, activities, and so on. Personally, I like the realistic aspects of this approach. I am a big believer in actualities.
Imagination can illuminate buried, forgotten, or neglected sources of joy and energize your life by putting will back into the picture. (Photo: public domain)
The authentic self comprises the unique set of our most potent and precious emotionally important ideas. We acquire the basics of these mental constructs as children when, through our behaviour, our genes interact with our physical and social environment. Their uniqueness is what makes us all natural individuals. (Yes, without even trying, if we can stay out of our own way.) Unless we make them conscious – and we can – these assorted emotionally important ideas live in the unconscious where they generate our true will. We are all born with the urge for self-realization and the capacities we want to fulfil are an integral part of the authentic self.
Functional aspects of the authentic self may be compared to the working parts of an old-fashioned sailing ship. (Image freeclipartnow.com)
An old-fashioned sailboat or square-rigged ship makes a useful metaphor for illustrating the importance of our emotionally important ideas. (Or as some would say, subjectively formed guiding principles). Once we are aware of them, these ideas or principles give our “ship of self” a number of useful qualities:
Will occupies the seat of power in the psyche. But where is that seat? (Image: public domain.)
These days we say will or willpower does not work, pointing to those who fail to diet or quit smoking as proof. The trouble here is that the decision to diet or quit smoking is just that – a conscious decision – and not an act of will. What these folks will is to go on eating and smoking, so in truth, their “failures” are actually proof that willpower does work. To change something about oneself, or to accomplish some difficult thing, one must will that it be so – not decide – will.
Creative people are both more flexible and more selective in the way they think. (Image: public domain.)
Three factors make these creators stand out.
First, such people possess the ability to think profitably by a variety of means. That is, they have at their disposal a range of thinking techniques. There is a characteristic flexibility to their thinking not usually seen in ordinary life. In most cases, they did not consciously acquire this powerful set of thought tools. They picked them up unknowingly as they pursued one interest or another. Often they have explored a series of interests. The primary thinking tools are contradictions, comparisons, images, and metaphors.