Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dialogue with Persons

This is the third in a series of posts about using dialogue as a journaling device. Ira Progoff, the father of modern journaling, cited six main types of dialogues in his groundbreaking volume, "Intensive Journal Workshop," published in 1966. Dialogue with Persons is one of these six main types.

By a dialogue, I mean choosing a dialogue partner and writing back and forth between yourself and your "partner." In a Dialogue with Persons, your dialogue could be with a person of the past, present or future, a person living, passed on or not yet born. And you don't need to know the person to have a dialogue. This is not channeling or any other hocus-pocus, but a way for you to cut through preconceived notions to what you may discover is the deeper truth about a person, persons and especially about yourself. Think of it as a letter that can't be delivered, but somehow it is, and somehow you get a letter in return.

For example, you might choose to dialogue with a person you really admire, who may possibly serve as a role model for you, and perhaps you have never had the opportunity to meet. You may initially feel that you can never measure up to the talent or accomplishment of this person. But through your dialogue, you may discover that your partner tells you how hard he or she had to work, how long of a wait and how high of a climb it took to leave an impression. Perhaps it really did. Perhaps it really didn't. But this dialogue may at best give you insight into what you feel you must do yourself to progress to the next level of your life and your personhood!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Dialogue with Creative Work

I have a day job, but I don't necessarily want to dialogue with it. I may argue with it a good portion of the eight hours I punch in, but I have other avocations that make more appealing partners. One is musical theater writing. I'm currently working on a children's musical and besides dialoging with my actual composer/collaborator friend, which is the most satisfying, my journal serves as an ideal stage to work out the answers to what drives the piece in the first place.

Some of the questions I pose consist of "What does the main character want?" and "What is the musical about?" When I ask what it's about, I don't mean the plot. The plot is what happens, scene by scene. Instead, I mean what deeper meaning is the piece trying to bring out? If it's about belonging, does the character discover that he or she can belong or that it may be impossible to really belong. If it's about connection, what might a character do to continually reinforce disconnection before finding a path to connecting with other people.

If working on a play or musical, you might have a journaled dialogue with your character asking directly what he or she wants, believes, avoids or regrets. You may not only find out your answer, but also find ways to smooth any bumpy parts of the script your characters trip on or redirect their steps when they wander away from where they and your piece are ultimately headed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Dialogue with the Body

Your body's wisdom can speak to you through metaphor. Writing dialogues in your journal can help faciliate the life lessons your body may be trying to teach you. Dialogue with the body is one of the six main types of journaling dialogues described in Ira Progoff's seminal book on modern journal writing, "Intensive Journal Workshop," first published in 1966.

First, choose a dialogue partner, whether it be a body part or organ, illness, injury or surgery, allergy, your sexuality; a body subpersonality such as thin self, fat self, addiction or habit; foods or nutrition; or pain, which always seems to be an important messenger.

Dialogue in writing, back and forth, with your dialogue partner. You will be writing both roles, of course! Your dialogue can be in the form of a thoughtful and direct "letter" or "instant messaging" back-and-forth dialogue if you thrive on fast-paced banter. If you feel like you're making it up, you're right. You are making it up, but it is a part of you. Don't be afraid of the unexpected or ideas that seem to come out of nowhere.

Having a dialogue with the body can be a form of healing visualization. Whether your dialogue partner is anything from an allergy to dust, a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer or the ache of a twisted ankle to an addiction to chocolate, the fear of hair loss or compulsion to wear too much makeup, your two-way dialogues can help you sort out the real from the imagined, the old you from the newer you, and help you decide what can be changed and how to go about it, or what may be inevitable and how best to face it.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Haibun Beatnik Style

Jack Kerouac was one of the Beat poets of the West Coast (although he was originally from Massachusetts) in the 1950s. Inspired by the Japanese haiku poets and haibun writers, such as Buson, he tried his own hand at haibun, which is a journal entry followed by a haiku poem. The following excerpt is from Kerouac's book "Desolation Angels."

"the wind, the wind--
And there's my poor endeavoring human desk at which I sit so often during the day, facing south, the papers and pencils and the coffee cup with sprigs of alpine fir and a weird orchid of the heights wiltable in one day -- my Beechnut gum, my tobacco pouch, dusts, pitiful pulp magazines I have to read, view south to all those snowy majesties -- The waiting is long.

On Starvation Ridge
Little sticks
Are trying to grow."