The Integration Project

This slightly grandiose phrase was going to be the title of this website, but that didn't feel quite right to me. My writing is very personal, and it feels right that the website should be named after me. The "Integration Project" is just a handy way of thinking about the entire span of time and effort represented by all these images and words. What is it all about? After all, I don't make any particular efforts to publish any of this stuff through conventional channels, so what's the purpose of it, what drives me to do it?

I wasn't sure how to answer this question for a long time, until I read about Carl Jung's attitude towards his own painting and other "artistic" efforts. People used to try to persuade Jung that he was an artist, that his paintings should be in galleries, etc, but he resisted this idea very strongly because he felt it wasn't descriptive of the urge that made him do it. For him, all this stuff that other people wanted to call art was in fact just personal psychological material thrown up during the process of self-integration. It had meaning and purpose for him - very urgent meaning and very specific purpose - but he was far less sure of its value for other people. In his own mind, he wasn't an artist, he was a scientist. He wasn't interested in presenting his efforts as "art" and thereby enabling their implications to be contained within the context of art and aesthetics. What he really wanted to do was chart a path through the psyche that would be useful to others - and not merely a personal path through his own psyche, but a universal path through the collective psyche. In the context of such a huge ambition, the term "artist" would be a dismissal.

I'm not comparing myself directly to Jung, who was a true pioneer, but he gave me the context for understanding what comes out of my own head. All of this writing and imagery has come out of my own process of integration, my own efforts to become a whole person (you could even say, my own efforts to remain, or become, sane). It's not "art" and I've never been comfortable thinking of it as art. It has meaning for me that can never be the same for anyone else, and if no one else ever saw it, I'd still be happy I'd done it.

However, it also doesn't feel right having produced all this writing and not making it available for people to read, if they want to. If you get something from all this - if it has some meaning for you, or helps you to think about things, or even inspires you to express yourself in some way - then that will make me very happy. If it did this for even one other person, then all of it won't have been a waste!

I call it the "Integration Project" because integration is an ongoing process that I don't expect will ever stop for me. I go through periods of more or less activity (at the time of writing, 2010, I'm not writing much, although I'm taking lots of photographs), but this website allows me to build a complete representation of that process over time. The earliest items on this site date back to 1993/94. Also, another aspect of the project for me is the integration of visual and verbal modes of expression. I like linking the words up with the images. They inform and change each other and they express different parts of my own mind, and tying them together feels like it ties together separated parts of myself; and that's what this whole process is all about. This is also why I've included a Dreams section - I think it's almost impossible to understand and integrate yourself without paying a lot of attention to your dreams, and a great deal of my writing has been directly inspired by material I've written down from dreams.

An unintended side effect of all this is that this website may seem to strangers to be a really good way of getting to know me. If you feel this way I encourage you to read this. The person you may think you have gotten to know through all this writing doesn't really exist. Once something is written down or photographed, that's it - it's gone. That's how integration works. We assimilate parts of our own psyche, we integrate them into our consciousness, we express them and poof! they're gone. Life is constantly moving and changing, and so should we.