Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Moreno’s “Idee Fixe”

Originally posted on May 10, 2014

I wrote about what Moreno called his Idee Fixe  in 1996 and was reminded of it in a correspondence by a colleague, Ed Schreiber. The article that J. L. Moreno (1889-1974) wrote was published in a booklet last year, titled The Future of Man’s World. Moreno wrote:

“Why I chose the course of the theater instead of founding a religious sect, joining a monastery or developing a system of theology although they do not exclude one another, can be understood in taking a view into the setting from which my ideas sprang. I suffered from an idee fixe, from which might have been called an affectation, but of which might be said today, as the harvest is coming in, that it was by ‘the grace of God.’ The idee fixe became my constant source of productivity; it proclaimed there is a sort of primordial nature, which is immortal and returns afresh with every generation, a first universe which contains all beings an in which all events are sacred. I liked that enchanting realm and did not plan to leave it, ever.”

I (Blatner) have contemplated this passage, too. My interpretation today is that Moreno touched into the numinous, compelling source of his own psyche, the archetypal and for him, energetic upwelling that could easily be described in the terms he used.  One might ask what fueled his hypomanic enthusiasm, and what fuels excitement for others. My hunch is that we are more or less open to inspiration, for a variety of reasons. So far, most folks are more closed than open.

The reason is that the brain is significantly inhibitory; there is a pervasive chemical in the brain, GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid), a neurotransmitter that most frequently seems to dampen many neural networks. LSD works by inhibiting the GABA system, and thus opens the mind to more than it can ordinarily process. We have much more to learn about neurophysiology, but the point is that people do "tap into" depths that others cannot easily access.

It may well be that this happens not only with feelings (e.g., cocaine), but naturally with some forms of intelligence. Sixty Minutes TV show, for instance, featured people with phenomenal abilities to tap into any date, they could tell you what happened as if it were a vivid memory. Others have good memories or intuitive skills for this but not for that, and each person is talented in different ways. The upwelling of creativity can seem sacred, and Nikolai Berdyayev wrote about this around 1920.

I don’t doubt that Moreno tapped into a creative source, and I don’t doubt that he was inspired deeply. I do question the validity of interpretations for every human, whether Mozart or Picasso. Our job is to channel as well as we can and not succumb to the ego-inflation of presuming that what we channel is the whole truth or anything that partakes of the final or ultimate. What we channel at our best is what we humans can channel based on where we are in the process of evolution. It’s enough to channel it and not then let it become what Moreno himself called “a cultural conserve.”

Let me correct that: It’s fine to generate cultural conserves. It’s mistaken to then stop creating, to rely on what has been created by us or others. It’s best if we build on others’ cultural conserves, or revise them, elaborate them in new ways, etc. They’re stepping stones, not ends.

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