I spend a lot of time reading and writing at my desk. It is the intellectual center of my world, my seat of creativity, the central place where my reasoning, self awareness, and memory project outward into the material world; as if they are flesh and blood people that have colonized a small corner of a foreign land.
Like any settlers to a new land they transform what they find to fit there need. In this case a suitable place for this engine of creation to do its’ work.
Over time I have realized that their motivation for transforming my desk top originates in my unconscious mind; which seems to have its’ own volition operating separately from my conscious mind.
If you are thinking that I may have a multiple personality disorder or need counseling to control a compulsion, let me say this; as a chef I have worked at plenty of desks where I had no desire to do this. Secondly, despite being something I automatically do, but only when I can, my conscious mind enjoys arranging a desk. It’s like picking out what cloths I am going to wear to a meeting.
I see a resemblance between creating a space to think and the work of our ancestor’s in creating spaces for worship and prayer. The placement of standing stones by prehistoric cultures or the ancient Catholic practice of using icons to focus prayer to God readily come to mind.
My ‘standing stones’, or desk stones, are objects that define the desk top as a thinking space. They also focus the creative energy onto that defined area, aiding the intellectual process. These objects are things, or representations of things, that I am fascinated with and have spent time studying and thinking about. Interesting rocks and crystals, models of mining machines are two examples. Icons however, evoke powerful and positive memories or thoughts that refresh and invigorate the will to create. I have used Precisionist art work, elegant porcelain pottery, and die cast models for my icon equivalents.
Sometimes I need a space to think when I am not at my desk. It could be a different room in the house or out side of the house entirely. If in another room, other stones are chosen and positioned in strategic locations. These are places where I spend time planning activities but don’t have the room for a desk. One spot is my bureau where I get dressed for the day. I often plan out the order of what I have to do during the day, while I am putting on a ring or a watch. Over the years a set of miniature Carnac stones has been arranged and rearranged many times on it’s polished wood top.
If an additional space is needed outside of the house, such as a public seating area, a job site for work, or a relative’s home, then it cannot be personalized. Often, I work in that space as it is. But if I have the time I will take a moment to find a suitable place where the mix of light and shadows, the interesting prospective of a room’s architecture or the arrangement of furniture and fixtures can create a an environment suitable to think in.
In some respects, my mind is like a clever sea creature that lives in a shell. It can construct it’s own accommodation or just occupy one left vacant by another sea creature that has moved on; whatever suits the situation.
Sometimes I think this habit is an unnecessary expenditure of time and money and I am justifying it by comparing it to ancient standing stones and venerated icons that serve a different purpose.
Then I sit down among the stones, with all the ideas that have been rumbling around in my head, and begin the ritual of writing. When all the travails and efforts of the day are nowhere to be found on this hallowed ground, I realize why that other part of my mind came here to put those stones in place.