Blog entry

Let's do some Lines...

Song Of The Day: Milkshake / Kelis
Word Of The Day: Asseverate / Declare solemnly or emphatically

Below is day three in a little survey of an All-Quadrant, All-Level (aka: AQAL) spin through art...


Intelligence is probably the most famous line of development, popularized by the eponymous Intelligence Quotient, but I.Q. is itself just a single line of development, and not an accurate indicator of an artist's overall calibration. It's more interesting than that. Artists tend to be more advanced in some areas, and less in others. Psychologist Howard Gardner has outlined seven of these major lines in his theory of multiple intelligences, and all of them are directly related to artistry:

Musical - Performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns- pitches, tones, and rhythms
Linguistic - Acquisition of and expression through written and spoken signifiers
Logical-Mathematical - Logical thought, deductive reasoning, analytic and mathematical operations
Spatial - Capacity to recognize and use the patterns of wide and confined spaces.
Interpersonal - Capacity to recognize the intentions, motivations, and desires of other people. Relational skill.
Bodily-Kinesthetic - Coordination of mental and physical activity, grasp of objects, skill of motion and movement, facility with form.
Intrapersonal- Capacity to understand oneself, interpreting one's own feelings, fears, motivations, and apply such insights in life.

All artists possess these lines, but in differing gradations. Interestingly, Gardner studied great figures from a range of disciplines, and observed the uneven manner in which lines unfold in people. Picasso had a highly advanced spatial line, and a retarded logical line. Einstein was big with logic, but not very advanced when it came to intrapersonal skills.

Even after a brief acquaintance with the notion of different kinds of intelligence, we can easily cite artistic exemplars in each line;

Baryshnikov has quite an advanced kinesthetic line, Rodin excelled in the spatial, Oprah is gifted with the interpersonal, Shakespeare in linguistic, Bjork in musical, Bach in both musical and mathematical, Da Vinci was blessed in logical and spatial, and so on. Discovering that each of these intelligences carries it's own unique types of technology and methodology, an artist can then begin to train them, and reset them in the context of their work. Simply focusing awareness on a line can bring benefits.

Harkening back to the discussion of subject / object relations, once an artist is able to see something as an object in awareness, they become able to operate on it, instead of having it operate (unconsciously) on the artist. Beyond that, consciously working to cultivate certain lines or parts can have surprising effects on the whole. A host of researchers (Piaget, Kohlberg, Kegan, Loevinger, Freud, Jung, Maslow, Graves) have cited capacities in addition to the seven Gardner studied. They include:

Cognitive - Basic awareness of what is, faculty of knowing through perceiving and conceiving
Matter / Energy - Capacity to permanently acquire energetic components of being, ability to turn states into traits
Moral - Sense of right and wrong, virtue
Self-Sense - Ego, assembly and oversight of aspects of identity and selfhood
Emotional Affective - Presence and skillful management of feeling
Aesthetic - Beauty, art, felt apprehension of meaning
Psychosexual - Eros or agentic drive through all developmental phases
Ethical - Concordance with principles that govern group conduct at any stage, translative ability at any level
Perspectives - Capacity to assume and understand roles, viewpoints, vantages, experiences
Spiritual - Witnessing awareness, wisdom, insight

Two of the most important lines for any artist are cognitive and matter-energy. The cognitive is primary because, as Wilber notes, it is necessary but not sufficient for development in the other lines. In other words, a person's level of cognitive development acts as a kind of compressor or limiter on their other intelligences, determining to some extent how high they can reach or how far they can advance in all the various lines. If cognition is incapacitated, the other lines will not function. The Matter-energy line is crucial because it operates as an over-arching or meta-capacity, one which facilitates the growth of other capacities.

While development in lines is differentiated (for instance a very high I.Q. will not make you a very moral person), the lines do also evolve and function in relation to one another. Lines are differentiated, not dissassociated. Advancement in one line (e.g. linguistic) is aided by successful growth in another line (e.g. musical). This is especially true if an artist is consciously, intentionally working to cultivate development across a range of lines at once. Research has shown, for instance, that people who practice meditation are less able to successfully integrate spiritual insight than those who combine meditation practice with a physical / kinesthetic practice. Of course there are limits to how far an artist can develop a line through training. No matter how diligently an artist works at training the spatial line, it doesn't mean they will become the next Van Gogh, only that they will have a greater probability of reaching their own highest potential, whatever that might be. An artist can improve lines to various degrees, and even moderate shifts in a few places can make a big difference overall.

The way an artist experiences states, moves through stages, and develops in lines depends to some extent on their typological make-up.

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