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  • 2019rodrigophd

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"The Strangest Secret: a collection of poetry" & "Exploring the locale of negative capability in creative practice through Wilfred Bion's grid and Carl Jung's use of the Mandala"

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Amali Rodrigo
Publication date2019
Number of pages199
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis consists of a collection of poetry titled The Strangest Secret, and a reflective essay exploring areas of possible cross-fertilization between clinical psychology and writing practice.
My primary focus is Keats’ notion of ‘negative capability’ as incubatory practice in my creative process. I use a personal ‘writing-block’ or a period of being unable to produce poems as a method of isolating the variable of ‘writing a poem’ and test it against the nature of attentiveness and also the thinking process that could possibly occur while inhabiting an implied state of ‘negative capability’. Hence, I treat and analyse two years of notebooks as ‘raw data’, paying attention to the creation and development of thought in my own artistic process. I also go on to trace how, from all the inchoate pre-lingual mark-making in notebooks, symbolic forms revealed themselves to be the most vital in mobilizing my creative capacity and resulted in the poems in The Strangest Secret.
I was undergoing psychoanalysis during this time, and this research is based on the work of two leading psychoanalysts, Wilfred Bion and Carl Jung.
First, drawing on Carl Jung’s work on the Mandala and Wilfred Bion’s concept ‘O’, I determine the nature of the pre-linguistic psychic space of experience (as recorded in my notebooks using language fragments, sketches, diagrams and dreams) while inhabiting a state of negative capability in my life as well as in creative practice. I also show how the Mandala played a central role as an invisible scaffolding in the development of organic form in my creative work.
Secondly, I illustrate how I found Wilfred Bion’s Theory of Thinking schematised in the ‘Grid’, a useful tool for analysing this record of the pre-linguistic psychic space by breaking down and categorizing the raw data, i.e. different types of notations in notebooks. Then, I trace the process between creative block to flow as a conceptual process. The way the pattern of a seed-head of a sunflower embodies the invisible schemata of the Fibonacci sequence, I adapt the Grid and present it as a schematic representation of my creative process from first notation to finished draft.
Finally, I contemplate how the experience of inhabiting a negatively defined space, and the theoretical and personal quest to understand the psychological nature of its locale, led me to question and explore the stability of the lyric ‘I’ in my creative work.