Armchair Philosophizing with Melissa Unger

I am always reading, listening, looking at various subjects in the hopes of better understanding the source of creativity and imagination. I come across people & things in nature, science, philosophy, medicine, the arts, etc that spark my interest and inspire me.

Some are rather esoteric, but I think one has to roam the edges of what’s accepted in order to find innovative solutions and move thought & culture forward.



Throughout the year, I share some subjects I came across in my research that I found particularly interesting. I hope you’ll enjoy them and that they will inspire you to stay curious.




This month I have been thinking a lot about how technology is going to affect creative expression.

Since the dawn of humanity, man has expressed what is inside of him and enjoyed watching his imagination shoot out through his fingertips, the result is always a unique extension of the creator’s distinct personality. Like for example cave paintings, or primitive sculptures, the imprint of the creator is always visible, his hands have ‘touched’ the material in a particular way.  The same goes for handwriting. Handwriting was once studied and considered a valid manner in which to evaluate personality and also to distinguish us from one another. I am distressed to think that this beautiful and important human tradition is now nearly extinct. These days we all express ourselves via a set group of fonts. I wonder what the ramifications of this ‘smoothing’ and unifying technology will be. Will we all be more homogenous in the future? Will individual personalities become a thing of the past? Will all creative expression eventually fall into a set series of limited choices as the means through which we express ourselves become more and more mechanical?  I don’t know the answers, but it did get me thinking about how much my gestures and my personal creative expression mean to me and how much I value all the things I have created and that others around me have created. From the goofiest doodle, to a note passed in High School, to a shopping list, to a love letter, they all send me right back to the person I was in that particular moment. They are artifacts in the truest sense.

All this got me thinking about the ensō. It seemed a good and simple means too reconnect with gestural expression. “In Zen Buddhist painting, ensō symbolizes a moment when the mind is free to simply let the body/spirit create. The brushed ink of the circle is usually done on silk or rice paper in one movement: it shows the expressive movement of the spirit at that time. Zen Buddhists “believe that the character of the artist is fully exposed in how she or he draws an ensō.  Some artists will practice drawing an ensō daily, as a kind of Spiritual Practice.”* (To read more information about the ensō click: here.)

Spiritual or not, I encourage you to not loose sight of the value of expressing yourself through creative gesture.  Seymour Magazine will close for the month of August as it does each year to allow for a break from technology. I don’t mean to demonize technology, I embrace it for all its wonders, but I believe that everything is best enjoyed when compared to its opposite: summer/winter, day/night, sadness/happiness… so I hope to inspire you to use those 31 days to unplug and express yourself in any gestural manner that you choose. Baking, painting, writing (NOT on a computer!), or a simply drawing circle on a sheet of paper each day…at the end of the month you’ll look back and see a beautiful mosaic of yourself. Each day a different you. Each moment a new beginning.


*excerpt from Wikipedia

Published: July 24th, 2012

Previous in this series:

S+ Stimulant: Henry David Thoreau

Leave a Reply