Profound Shock

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
Oscar Wilde


Profound Shock

The idea of profound shock is interesting. We know that many people with near-death experiences come out of it with completely new outlooks on life. The shock of almost dying must be pretty powerful and I wonder if it kind of resets the neurons in the brain making new pathways. Maybe even new positive pathways.

The Freemasons use a near-death ritual with their new initiates. Commonly they would use nooses but sometimes guns with blanks or any other device. They would surprise and shock their incoming members into believing that they are about to die while constantly giving them information on the society, too much to ever remember. Maybe the intent was to create new thinking that would be Freemason Thinking.

Fraternities have hazing rituals that must have their roots in Freemasonry. Hazing follows the pattern of simulating a near-death experience or the shock of pain perhaps. Let’s be sure that today’s fraternities have long forgotten the why of the ritual but if higher education is the goal, it makes a kind of warped sense to do this.

Dr. Timothy Leary believed in the idea of neurological imprinting. When you are born, within the first days, the brain imprints fundamental beliefs like trust or paranoia. His idea of the Acid Tests or experiments was to induce, via LSD, a person into a kind of vulnerability that the group would fill with love and assurances and try to re-imprint the brain! Imagine the disaster of the police with their batons bursting into the room to arrest everyone; tragic really.

Not all profound shocks have to be near-death or with experimental drugs. We can have profound shocks in our lives that change the way we see the world and the way we think.

Here is a story of one of mine. It is not very dramatic but it was my first Artistic Breakthrough and it came as a shock.

Lets have a look.

I had been doing theater for about ten years and designing lights for about four. I was working a lot and designing for a lot of different people; dance, theater, experimental works, installations, performance art.

I was downtown Los Angeles and designing for the SCREAM Festival. Southern California Electro-Acoustical Music. Twelve composers with twelve choreographers, each composer had about eight musicians and each choreographer had about ten dancers. It was early afternoon and I was working through each piece with the composer and choreographer setting the lighting.

As you might guess, the place was organized mayhem. Intruments were squawking and squeeking, dancers were everywhere stretching; in the seats, aisles, against the wall and, of course, on the stage. I had finished three of the pieces and was given a short break by the Stage Manager. I went up to the Producer to confirm that he was getting a good product from me.

Me: Well, what do you think? Are you happy with the work so far?
Producer: What do YOU think? Are you happy?

I was shocked!

I turned to look at the stage and think about it. This was the first time anyone had asked me to own my own work. I’d always worked to the and for the satisfaction of the artist that I was working for that day.

It was like blocks falling into place. I could “see” the whole concert fit into a whole. I could see how I would not only make each individual piece stand on its own but could also see how each piece could progress into the next and how the entire concert would be a complete experience. My vision of the show was dependent on the individual artists like it was before that moment but now I could see and own how the whole concert would work.

It was an Artistic Breakthrough that changed my life. From then on I designed many concerts with individual artists and I could now tie it all together without making the individual pieces less in any way. Each piece could stand out more on it’s own because I knew who to make the audience recieptive to the next set of visuals.

It went beyond that. I could now look at other’s work with not just greater understanding but I had an opinion. And it went beyond lighting, I understood how art fit together, how movement extended throughout a phrase; hell, I even had an opinion on paintings and poetry and music and food.

It was a Profound Shock in that moment and I felt like I stepped through it into a new understanding and vision of not only my own work but all work.

My final comment is that this happened after years and years of working. I was steeped in the process and began by imitating my teachers. I thought that I was “good” because I was making everyone happy. It took years to learn enough to make it my own and to understand enough to become an artist. From that day on, I knew that I was an artist and it came from a simple question that led to a Profound Shock. Perhaps it may seem like a mild experience compared to near-death and I agree, but it was life-changing!

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