The Creative Voice

Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 65)


Max Bygraves’ famous catch phrase, “I wanna tell you a story,” reflects one of the elemental aspects of the human psyche,1 for, more than being an impulse to communicate one’s identity, it signifies a universal subconscious urge to excel, to be able to hold other people’s attention, to spell-bind ... perhaps even to evade death. This is echoed in a line from the theme song of the TV series “Fame”: “I want them to know my name.” At some level each of us wants them to know our names. We want respect — even if it’s only from the person behind the counter in our local convenience store. When we don’t get the attention we feel we deserve, we get angry or, if inhibited from expressing anger, we get depressed. This impulse to communicate depends on an other who is addressed explicitly or invoked implicitly. Someone has to know what we want to tell. Human consciousness is like a spider: its delicate web of personal meanings depends on external points of contact.


Creative Artist External Reality Collective Awareness Broad Mass Voice Hearing 
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  1. 1.
    use the words psyche and psychic to denote the human personality taken as a whole. It should not be taken in the popular sense as implying something communicated to human minds from an external source, but on the other hand the term would include extra-sensory faculties as subjectively experienced, since those are aspects of a fully developed consciousness.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    We might also see this projectible or extravertory quality as psychic energy, an unseen force-field around the personality defining “personal space”. The Chinese have long recognised this quality of psychic integrity as Chi or Qi, a word embedded in the country’s name, and the 600 year tradition of martial arts is based on the idea of developing a psychic shield by the projection of one’s energy.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Voices is a shorthand term. While many experience them verbally, other people will experience them simply as impulses to action arising from the subconscious. Manifestly, visual artists will tend to associate creative impulses less with a voice than those whose art form is based on the ear. Ancient cultures recognised this much more clearly. To the Greeks, everyone contained a daimon or spirit which inspired them to good or evil actions. In Latin the word genius actually means a resident spirit or guardian angel. The Roman believed that everyone had some unique form of genius, “that of God” within each one, defining their quintessential character.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    John Fordham, The Guardian 3/1/97.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    I found it significant when I taught at the Royal College of Music Junior Department that boys with high academic achievements tended to have a much feebler body-sense of rhythm than the lesser educated. The observation applied less markedly to girls. This idea of rhythmic sureness being linked to a certain kind of self-knowledge recurs in the ideas surrounding the word dharma mentioned later in the article.Google Scholar
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    Psychiatry & Religion, ed. Dinesh Bhugra, Routledge, 1996. Quote from a review by Julian Candy in Network #61, 1996.Google Scholar
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    Obversely, those not at one within themselves characteristically experience external reality as boring and predictable and seek to enliven it by addictive physical or cultural stimuli.Google Scholar
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    Maxwell Steer, See Through Music, Contemporary Music Review, Vol 14.1 (Harwood Academic Press, Int., 1996) p. 147. Anyone interested in this argument would find the second section of the article, Knowledge & Individuation, p. 129, of particular relevance.Google Scholar
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    One aspect of this idea of dharma is expressed in remarks by the retiring broadcasting executive Sam Chisholm about his success at BSkyB [Guardian 23/6/97] “It does require sacrifice, because you have a sense of duty. You’ve got to learn to put everything ahead of yourself.” Plainly this “sacrifice” was before the altar of a Golden Calf rather than the pursuit of anything profound, and the interview reveals that one of the things Chisholm sacrificed was his own family, yet it shows what can be achieved by single-minded application towards, here, a simple-minded goal.Google Scholar
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    I don’t want to get side-tracked on this fascinating extension of the “voice hearing” phenomenon, which “cries out” for deeper consideration. Jung of course looked at the broader question of the psychology of religious awareness, most pertinently in Answer to Job and Psychology & Religion, but didn’t cover this specific topic in detail. However many of Marie-Louise von Franz’s writings do consider some of these issues: Shadow & Evil in Fairy Tales (Shambhala) especially contains some marvellous insights.Google Scholar
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    Jeremiah 20:9 (Jerusalem Bible).Google Scholar
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    “How Great Thou Art.” Quaker Quarterly, 10/96 — a study of the loss of the second person singular in popular vocabulary. There is an aspect in the growth of elective drug-taking since WW2 which undoubtedly reflects a pharmacological search for psycho-physiological ecstasy as a short-cut to phenomena previously only accessible through religious tradition. There is much about Rave culture which unquestionably follows patterns of the hallucinogenic cults which have at times existed in various parts of the world.Google Scholar
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    The Philosophical Tree, C. G. Jung, Collected Works, vol. 13. I explored these issues in my play The Watcher in the Rain (1990), whose plot revolved around the treatment of James Joyce’s schizophrenic daughter by Jung. It can be consulted on my website Scholar
  14. 14.
    W. Mellers, “Present & Past: Intermediaries & Interpreters” in Companion to Contemporary Musical Thought (Routledge, 1994), vol. 2, p. 921. James Joyce said very similar things.Google Scholar
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    op. cit., p. 929.Google Scholar
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    Marius Romme & Sandra Escher, Accepting Voices (Mind, 1993). The original version of this article was written for a collection of essays about Voice Hearing.Google Scholar
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    Wilson Van Dusen, The Natural Depth in Man (Swedenborg Foundation, 1973), p. 143.Google Scholar
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    A remarkable exception to this phenomenon was the case of Professor Helen Shucman, a lecturer in Medical Psychology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, who from 1965-72 received “emanations” which — after consultation with her senior professor, William Thetford — she began to write down, despite having no previous interest in spirituality. These writings were eventually edited by Thetford into the enormously influential Course in Miracles. The experiences never altered Dr. Shucman’s life, nor did she consent to their publication by Thetford until after her retirement in 1977. She died in 1981 before the book achieved its current celebrity. See the website Scholar
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    Maxwell Steer, Introduction to Contemporary Music Review, Vol. 14.1 (Harwood Academic Press, Int., 1996).Google Scholar
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    Comment on a tape I produced for Salisbury Voice Hearing Group, 1996, which started my interest in these phenomena. Available from Salisbury Council for Voluntary Service, UK+1722 421746.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    From the Mundaka Upanishad (translator unknown) which I downloaded from a website several years ago. Self is here to be taken as “your true nature”, i.e. the goodness at the core of your being or soul.Google Scholar
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    From a poem by Kabir, Indian 16th century mystic.Google Scholar
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    Lecture at Harvard, delivered in French, quoted in translation by Michael Ignatieff in “The Illuminati”, BBC r3, 3/7/97.Google Scholar
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    Marie-Louise von Franz, The Religious or Magical Attitude in Psychotherapy, Shambhala, 1993. Perhaps the fullest exposition of Von Franz insights into the Self and the Collective Unconscious is her Projection and Recollection in Jungian Psychology (Reflections of the Soul). Open Court 1980.Google Scholar
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    Osho [Bhagwan Rajneesh], Finger Pointing to the Moon — Discourses on the Adhyatma Upanishad, Element, 1994, freely abridged from pp. 106-109, my adaptation to bisexual language.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TisburyWiltshireUK

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