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No rules haiku and tanka

October 15, 2021

No rules haiku and tanka

October 15, 2021

No Rules Haiku and Tanka……

Marsh Grass 3

Something New!  Over at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai Chevrefeuille is running a no rules challenge.  Like Basho said: “Learn the Rules, then immediately forget them and write from the heart.  Unfortunately, most modern haiku and tanka writers don’t LEARN the rules.  LOL!  These are rather free for all pieces, with kigo words, etc.  Nope, couldn’t do it. Once you learn something about writing haiku and tanka, it’s damn hard to do it without kigo.

Lady Nyo

Haiku….with kigo.

I chase one red leaf

Across dry and brittle grass

Juice of summer gone.

Frosty autumn night

The moon glides through chilly dreams

Red Maple stands sentry.

These next five are haiku without kigo.  

Under the dark moon

I awaited your return

Only shadows came.

The moon, a ghostly

Sliver, sails on a jet sea

Wild dogs howl beneath.

The soil our bed

Our classroom and our graves.

Reborn to the world.

Childhood is tough

Adults are the enemy

Kids fodder for wars


Such a fragile thing.

Child’s salvation

Tanka…. With kigo….

Autumn wind startles–
Lowered to an ominous
Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!
The fat mountain deer listen-
Add their bellowing sorrow.

I wander the fields

Snow covers the barren soil

Sharp wind plays pan pipes

A murder of crows huddle

Black laughing fruit hang from limbs 

(Kigo word is interesting.  Using snow as a kigo is rather obvious.  Kigo should infer a season.  Snow hits you over the head.)

And one without….

How could I forget
The beauty of the pale moon!
A face of sorrow
Growing thin upon the tide
Pulls my heart within its light.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

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“Tin Hinan”, Chapter 1

October 14, 2021

“Tin Hinan”, Chapter 1

October 14, 2021

 Tin Hinan was an actual historical figure of the 5th century in Algeria.  She gathered the tribes from Morocco and Algeria into a nation.  There is not much known about her so this is a work of pure fiction.  I did try to stick to the ‘facts’ in her journey across the desert with her slave. That was known about Tin Hinan, and her galvanizing power to unite the Berber tribes.  That’s about all, though her tomb was found in the Algerian mountains in the 1920’s.

Considering the tribal traditions of any century, what Tin Hinan did in just this venture, leaving her tribe and setting out across these mighty deserts is amazing. Considering the odds of her survival, it is especially amazing.

The Berbers opened the trade routes across northern Africa, and defended those routes from the Arabs.  Interestingly enough, Berbers were originally Christian, and resisted Islamic influence into the early 20th century. (Though Islam made great inroads from the 7th century onward.)  Between Christianity and Islamic religion, they were closer to the Egyptians in their worship of Ammon and Isis.

One important fact of Berber culture:  The Soul resides in the Liver. )



I am called Tin Hinan. I had the destiny of a woman ‘rooted in flight’.  Even my name means “Nomadic Woman”.  Sometimes I forget my birth name before I became Queen. It is now lost in the sands of the Great Desert. 

I founded a nation from the stirrings of my womb.  This is my story. 

I was born in an oasis near what is now called Morocco.  My people were nomadic, but if our tribe had a name, we would be Tagelmust, meaning “People of the Veil”. The Arabs, our enemy, rudely called us Twareg, “Abandoned by God”. We now are known as Tuareg, or Berber by the white Europeans. But since I am speaking from my short time of fifty years on this earth and now only spirit, you should know my story and life harkens back to the fifth century.  Life was very different then. But men and woman were not so different from now. Yearnings are the same.

Our tribe is matriarchal.  All things, possessions, are passed down through the women.  The men still make the laws, but we women have great power.  Nothing is decided until the council of elder women and men meet.

 We basically had two classes of Tagelmust people, Imajeren, the nobles, and Iklan, the slaves.  There are subgroups in all that, but that’s not important. My family were Imajeren, my father a tribal elder and leader.  My mother had great status as the first of his four wives.

I was born in the spring, during lambing time.  I was exceptionally tall for my sex, and poems were written by my mother and other women about my hurry to reach up to the stars.  That is the reason they gave for my height.  I had long, thick black hair and hazel eyes, which was not rare. As I grew to marriageable age, more songs were sung openly around the fires as to my beauty.

Perhaps you wonder when you think of Arabic women with the chador and bourka covering their features, how would you sing to a black sheath of cloth with two dark eyes staring back at you?  We, the Berber, are blessed by Ammon and Isis, for The Veiled People only applies to the men!  They wear the veil, an indigo dyed cloth that wraps around their heads and covers their faces, with only the eyes and the bridge of their noses exposed.  We, the women, carry our faces proudly to the sun, to the wind, and when it comes, the blessed rain.  The men are mostly stained a dark blue, like a devil or zar because their sweat makes the dye run from the indigo and stains their faces.  They look funny for it does not wash off, but seeps into the skin.  So when you marry, you beget children from a  Zar-looking creature.  Perhaps that is why children are such little devils.

“Aicha, Aicha!” The aunties were calling me in from where I was loafing.  I liked to stand at the edge of the oasis, and look at the sea of sand before me.  I would think of great spans of water, for some travelers once told me about the great ocean to the north.

I turned and ran towards my mother’s tent. To ignore the aunties would be rude, and besides, they had many surprises and secrets in the folds of their robes.

“You, Aicha!  Your mother wants you to come to her, hurry!  Here, be a good girl and take this basket.”

I slipped the large basket over my arm and went into the tent side of my mother’s. 

She was sitting on the floor of the tent, shelling dried beans. There were other women, most of them my aunts, her sisters, also working on the floor.  Our clan was a large one, one of the largest that made up the tribe. Growing up, there were women enough to pull my ears when I was bad and to soothe when I was mournful.

My mother looked up, noticed me standing there and motioned for me to sit down.

“Aicha, you are of the age when you should be married, or at least engaged.  Your father and I think it time that we look around for a husband for you.”

I knew it!  I saw the sly glances of the aunties, and heard the laughter when I passed a group of women. At the river, when I carried down the washing, I got looks and giggles even from those women and girls I didn’t know well. Something was brewing and this time I was the last to know.

“Come, you graceless girl.” My mother’s oldest sister, Aunt Aya called out to me.  She reached behind her broad hips and pulled out a packet wrapped in wool.  Slowly opening it, she revealed a heavy silver and amber necklace made up of many silver rounds and large amber beads.

It was fun for them, to dress me in the women’s jewelry like I was a child’s doll.   But they were serious in their business. 

“Hold still, you silly girl. This kohl will poke out your eye if you don’t”.

 This from another auntie.   My face and hair were fiddled with, and I suffered the blackening of my eyes and their hands twisting my hair into designs.

That day they had their fun, and I emerged from the tent at evening to be walked around the fire to the whistles and comments of the collected tribe.  My hair was braided in intricate styles and small silver discs peppered my head like beaten full moons.   Heavy silver and wood earrings weighted down my earlobes.  I was of course, without a veil, and two women held my hands, leading me around the tribe’s main fire to the sound of drums and the ney flute.

Although I could not to marry within my tribe, I was being presented for our tribe’s delight.  Grooming for marriage was a ritual and my blushes showed appropriate modesty that evening.


There was a young man who was part of a neighboring tribe a day away.  During marriages, celebrations and festivals, I would see him and he would look for me.  We are modest women, but we do stare in the eyes of a man we are interested in marrying. We even wink at them.  Are you shocked?  Well, we did.   We had many customs, but  Berber women, before the hated Arabs, had much freedom.

Hasim was his name, and he was a tall man, taller than I was.  I thought only proper I be married to a tall man. What woman wants to look down on her husband?  It sets a bad example for a woman.  She starts looking down on him in other things.  Hasim was a few years older and at one marriage celebration, I danced a line dance with other maidens and gave him one of my bracelets.  This was an accepted way of flirting. When the musicians took a rest, I went to get my silver bracelet back, and he slipped it down the front of his robe. He crossed his arms over his chest and smiled boldly. I should have known then Hasim was trouble, but my foolish heart flip-flopped.  Ah! Girls can be so silly.

Hasim was handsome, already a man though only about twenty-two years of age.  He had golden skin where the sun had not burned him dark and black eyes like deep shaded pools of water in the oasis.  His nose was long and slightly bent, like the hunting hawk, and his mouth was full and red, like a split pomegranate.  His teeth were white like bleached bones in the desert.

How do I know this, if our men are veiled?  My Hasim, for I already claimed him mine with the certainty that he would be…. had unwrapped his indigo blue veil from his face. And yes, his cheeks were stained a light blue where his beard would be.  I should have known that the Zar blood was deep in him, not just on the surface, but Isis! How was I to know then?

“Come, little sister, fish deep in my waters and you will find your bangle.  You want your precious silver back, do you not?”

Ah! My father would kill him if he heard his words!  But Hasim just grinned, playing a man’s game and my head whirled inside.  Other parts of me were disturbed, but I only knew of this by our women’s bridal parties before the weddings.  My heart flipped and my stomach turned over, too.

I am not known for being shy, perhaps it is because I am so tall, but shy I was before Hasim.

He reached out his hand and traced my cheek to my chin, gently pushing the back of his thumb over my lips.  My eyes were locked to his and I could not pull away. I must have looked like a little fool, for my mouth opened a bit with the firm  pressure of his finger.

Hasim dipped into his chest and reluctantly pulled out my bracelet.  “Little sister, be careful in what hands you place your silver. .  You might come across one who will take more than your jewelry.”

I heard his voice off in the distance.  He closed his eyes slightly, his long, black lashes brushing downwards, and the spell was broken.  I staggered a bit, and he threw out a hand to steady me, an enigmatic smile on his face.

I saw Hasim a few times after this first occasion and each time grew dizzy by the sight him.  During the last harvest festival, Hasim was mounted on a large, white camel as he raced across the desert with the other riders.  The groans and bellows of the beasts, the yelling of the men placing their wagers and the dust churned up from many feet made it hard for me to concentrate.  I could only follow the white of his camel for he was surrounded by mounted men.

That autumn, my mother and father called me before them, and announced that it was time I marry.  I of course had no choice, I was of age, but I noticed an exchange of smiles between my parents.  Unknown to me, my father had consulted with the marriage broker and a visit had been made to Hasim’s parents.  He was considered a good prospect, and with the status of our tribe and that of my father, I was considered a likely bride for Hasim.

My heart was light and leaping about in my chest.  I walked now with confidence, my breasts pushed out and a smile upon my face.  I would have the status of a wife, not just a common, unmarried girl.  There were many things to settle, preparations to make and issues far beyond my concern.  These were the matters of the elders and my mother’s family. But I was to be a bride!  Finally, I would take my place in the tribe with all the authority of a wedded woman.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2007-2021

October 12, 2021

“The Courage to Create”, a reading of Dr. Rollo May’s book.


(Watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, “Italian Dawn” 2007)

Recently I have come to believe  it takes courage to continue on in our interests:  people are challenged because others want to pigeon-hole an artist.  Perhaps this is human nature.  Labeling  artists makes them easier to grasp, and we can be kind of slippery.  But overall, it is rather uncomfortable to have to feel that you need defend your talent or interests. Having to explain yourself to people who just don’t get it….the creative impulse, is exhausting.  Further, it takes time and energy that should be used in creating things.  And anyway, what is this creative impulse?

Recently I have been reading Rollo May’s “Courage to Create”.  This book is an eye opener.   It’s  a little dated, having been written in 1975, and points to cultural issues, political issues of that era. However, the issues of creativity are timeless.

I am going to pose some of his arguments and also some of my own conclusions.  I do this because I believe the issue that is so many times pressed, that creativity is all about will-power, is wrong and limited.  Actually, defeating.

I am struggling to understand the deeper issues around creativity and Dr. May has produced one of the best books that breaks through to new territory.

Rollo May (a world distinguished psychologist) wrote lucidly about creativity.  Besides being in a medical field, he was also a gifted watercolorist.  Actually, he was many things and embraced for his humanistic writings by people all over the world. In his “The Courage to Create”, May parcels out his theories of courage in six parts which I will cover in only a small way.  Very crucial to this issue of courage is what he defines as not the absence of despair, fear, insecurity but the capacity to move ahead in spite of all these things I think many creative people do this without thinking: However,  I think we are deeply mired in these negative obstacles but we move ahead anyway, full of doubt, haltingly.  We do it because of our personal, emotional involvement with creativity.  It’s the issue of acknowledging courage that throws a new and confusing concept in the mix. Perhaps we create more by instinct, or that we can’t not create. Something to do with the ‘pounding in the blood’, the intense concentration that erases all else in front of us….for good or bad.

May made the observation that a chief characteristic of this courage was that it required a centeredness within our own being, without which we would feel ourselves to be a vacuum.  The ‘emptiness’ within corresponds to an apathy without and apathy adds up, in the long run, in my belief,  to cowardice.

For me apathy extends to an inability to move, to think.  Just giving up on life. And creativity.  I have known people who end up forever apathetic. (I also have come to understand the relationship between apathy and violence.  Apathy ultimately becomes a ‘black hole’ in the psyche….a disconnect from humanity, and this becomes ripe for violence.)  People might be very talented, but they hit a roadblock in their pursuit of creativity and they give up. They don’t pursue because they don’t feel this centeredness.  They just give up.  They may have talents, but they flail around and in the end, they abandon the process.  I would suggest that they feel ‘outside’ to all attempts of creativity, and this certainly goes against this required “centeredness” that Rollo May speaks of.

We must base our commitment to the center of our own being, or else no commitment will be authentic.  And real courage isn’t bravado or rashness.

This issue of centeredness is interesting.   It accounts for many years of feeling alien, different, out of sync with the people either you meet or know from family ties. It basically is a denial of ‘difference’ in order to feel ‘connected’ to people.  I have found that it also means that I ‘dumb down’ myself just to ‘fit in’.  (This phenomena is seen in women, first in girls, where we deny our strength, our speed, our intellectual prowess because we think boys will be rattled by what we can do) . In the end (and beginning, middle) it’s just not worth it: this behavior delays, denies any creativity that might be brewing. This behavior denies the courage to create. And that creativity is the center of self.

In humans, courage is necessary to make being and becoming possible.  In nature, this isn’t exactly so, as an acorn becomes an oak by automatic growth, but a man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices and the exhibited commitment to them. Our self-worth is predicated on our choices. (I can’t say this enough!) This is a hard lesson to learn because it doesn’t come fast or easy.  It’s something that comes only with an understanding of what choices lead to clarity, against choices that derail us.  And it’s time consuming and something we have to do over and over.   It is also key to avoid the people who more than doubt, but would rather see us fail.  There is jealousy in such people, and even a closeness of relationship, as in family, can bring this ‘quality’ out into the open and allow destructiveness to blossom.

May describes the physical, moral, social courage and finally, what he sites as the most important courage of all….creative courage.  Whereas moral courage is the righting of wrongs, creative courage is the discovering of new forms, new symbols, new patterns on which, in part…. a better society can be built.

Why is creativity so difficult?  Why does it require so much courage?

George Bernard Shaw put forth something that has a profound truth to it:  “Creativity provokes the jealousy of the gods”.  And a creative person, IF she or he is authentic to their art, is always in some sort of turmoil.  Either internally, because of doubt and fear, or externally because the gods:  those in authority, or something like this, the status quo…are never accepting of something new and strange to them.  I remember a gallery owner who challenged me as to whether I was a painter or manufactured sculpture.  I was both, but this rather narrow woman could not accept this. My painting was fine, and my sculpture was fine, but she demanded that I choose between one medium or the other.  I couldn’t and was very confused by her mentality.  Now I can understand her limitations.  For a while her perspective deeply affected my thoughts about my own creativity, and then I came to my senses.  Who was she to limit my creativity, regardless of medium? (Her gallery closed soon after because what she carried was rather boring and stilted ‘art’.)

I faced this mentality for decades with a close family member who tried to diminish my own attempts in being creative.  She was no paragon of creativity, preferring to produce ‘safe’ poetry that was pretty dull, trite, sentimental  stuff. IF she had applied herself to the study of poetry, perhaps she could have written better verse.  However, she skimmed the surface, preferring it to be a product of her ego, and for her, that was enough.

We need to get out of the way of our creativity at times!  Regardless of emotional ties, we need to see what boxes people attempt to stuff us into.  If we are truly committed to the center of our own being (and we know what that entails) we will break free of this enforced dullness, this oppression.  It leads only to a depressing state of affairs.  Some people can try to enforce this dullness because they aren’t the people who create.  And some are just envious of another’s creativity. My mother ‘suffers’ (or actually others suffer from her) from narcissism.  And narcissists deny anything of creativity that they can’t claim…especially if it is produced by a family member.  This came home to me in a real way when the last letter I received from her in 2012 stated this after the publication of my third book:  “I can never be truly proud of you because you haven’t allowed me into your artistry.”  Well, hell mother…had I done so, there wouldn’t BE any ‘artistry’ as you call it.  But further, this statement from her, a functioning narcissist, is the leitmotiv of a true narcissist.  It is always about them, regardless who holds the pen or paintbrush. This isn’t a fertile ground for true creativity: it’s just a reflection of shallow ego.

How Religion Also Screws With Creativity

In Judaism and Christianity, the second commandment states:  “You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens, earth or sea”.  But this commandment holds the fear that every society has about its artists, poets, writers, those that express their authentic creativity:  These are the people who threaten the status quo.  In Russia for generations, and in many countries today, the struggle to control speech, art, dance, writings, poetry, etc. is continuous.  We see this in our own country in many ways.  And we certainly see this in Muslim/ Middle East countries (and India and Pakistan) where women especially are denied access to their creativity. To do so will upset the status quo and get you in a world of trouble. And probably stoned to death.

Mythology’s Impact

Our human psychology and social evolution is also seriously impacted with mythology. The Greek myth of Prometheus, who was chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus, (because he gave humankind fire) where a vulture would eat away his liver, only to have it grow again at night.  Zeus was outraged, the gods were angry, and it is very common for artists to be exhausted at the end of the day, to despair of ever completing their vision, to have their ‘liver’ grow back at night, and for them to have a fresh perspective the next day. Artists strive with renewed hope and vigor in the smithy of their soul. (Funny, in my studies of the Berber culture, the liver is the seat of the soul, and the soul is destroyed if the liver destroyed.)

It is obvious to most artists that the creative artist and poet, etc. must fight the actual gods of our society- the gods of conformity, apathy, material success and exploitative power.  These are the usual ‘idols’ that are worshiped by the multitude.  And it is across the board regardless of culture.

The Nature of Creativity

There is no general agreed upon definition of this nature, especially amongst psychologists and the therapeutic field.  Some hold that creativity is reductive: in other words, they reduce creativity to some other process.  Also, it’s an expression of neurotic patterns, or “regression in the service of the ego.”  This last immediately smacks of a reductive theory.

No wonder artists, creative people, have a hard time of it!  When your attempt at creativity is seen as neurotic you lose confidence.  You seriously doubt your sanity. And the general public isn’t at all helpful.

But there is a consideration (of which I won’t belabor here….) that when we define creativity, we must make the distinction between its pseudo forms and its authentic forms. Superficial creativity (art forms) that deal with only appearances or decoration, but not with reality is part of this collection of pseudo forms.  True artists give birth to some new reality….and it is usually fought against by the multitude because of its alien-ness. Picasso was a good example of this, (and his creativity took so many forms and not all of them embraced) and it can take generations for acceptance by the status quo.  And then the artist probably is dead and only the super wealthy can afford the genuine art.

The Encounter.

Dr. May is big on this issue of encounter. He states that escapist creativity is that which lacks encounter. (the reality of encountering life, etc. and it’s impact upon creativity. In escapist, exhibitionistic forms of creativity there is no real encounter, no engagement with reality).   We all know people who have great, elaborate ideas:  they can talk about them forever, but they never actualize them.  They are all fantasy and in the end….they lack the encounter with reality. I have found, (being a poet) that poets are some of the worst offenders of this encounter.  Recently, I left a prestigious poetry and literary journal because the vast majority of poets and writers wrote abstract, academic work that had no reflection of the myriad problems of their respective countries. (unfortunately, these were all male poets.) They refused to.  In fact, I was told basically ‘not to rock the boat’.  How much more interesting and informative it would have been to read essays on the social issues of India, Pakistan, Africa, etc. and some solutions to the troubling issues of these countries…especially  concerning the oppression of women.  I have little patience with what I feel is an ingrained misogyny of many writers who just “aren’t interested” in these social issues, and consider them beneath the level of ‘true’ creativity.  I put these writers and poets on the level of escapist creativity that lacks true encounter.  I try to avoid them like the plague.

The Difference between Talent and Creativity.

And that brings up the question of the difference between talent and creativity.  A few years ago, a woman who was a writer and artist was a house guest.  She said she was writing a novel, and as she elaborated on it, I could see that she hadn’t put down a word.  She was making it up as she talked. It was all fantasy, all in her head, and not in a very collected state. I shouldn’t have been surprised.  As I knew her from five years on different writing sites, she had exhibited a lot of emotional issues:  she couldn’t face them, but they certainly directed her life and her ‘creativity’.  She refused any consideration of therapy and continued to stroke her wounds. (and cut herself for psychological reasons..)   At that time, I tolerated her behavior.  Now?  I avoid her.  We are all responsible for the choices we make in our lives. She certainly had talent, but her creativity (the act) was truncated. She refused the encounter with reality in her own life and her creativity suffered because of it.  She stuck to unicorns, dragons and flowers.

I’ve had this struggle of encounter with a therapist for a number of years.  The concept of encounter also allows us to make clear the important distinction between talent and creativity.  Talent might well have its neurological parts and can be studied as ‘given’ to a person.  But creativity can only be seen in the act.  Picasso is again a great example of this: great talent, great encounter with life and this produces great creativity.  He is great because of his intensity of encounter.  It is not necessarily pretty or polite, but it should be intense on a fundamental level.

This is the second part of the creative act:  the intensity of the encounter. Genuine creativity is known by this force or power.

Many readers of this essay will recognize the altered state that comes when one is deeply involved in their creative process:  time disappears, sound doesn’t impinge upon the project, hunger is ignored, a single mindedness becomes absolute until the creative person comes to a stopping point, either through exhaustion or something that intrudes too hard to ignore.  The creative spell is broken.  But it definitely is an altered state.

I have written only a few words about this intensity of encounter, but I intend to write more as I figure it out.  I also want to get to what in my own life has been a propellant in my creativity.  And that is that Creativity is born in the Encounter with Opposition.  True creativity needs this frisson to birth or reveal itself.

The Courage to Create, Part II

I came across a part of Rollo May’s book, “The Courage to Create” that had a particular interest to a number of readers who were raised by narcissistic parents.  I am posting Dr. May’s words here just for further contemplation and discussion.  I find this idea of May to be intriguing and thoughtful. 

It is a particular discovery concerning a class difference in the behavior or the result of narcissistic parents on their daughters.  In my opinion, it is true and reveals the basis for the misery of many young women from the early teen years but with an interesting class difference.  Readers can draw their own conclusions.  I think Dr. May revealed something very powerful, true.

Dr. May was studying the issue of rejection and anxiety of young women by narcissistic parents, mainly the maternal rejection. (This made it into the book under the section: “Creativity and the Unconscious”) What was surprising to him was what he and other psychologists had assumed to be true, that they would be hardened, apathetic so that they didn’t feel the rejection?

“Where they sociopathetic or psychopathetic types who didn’t feel rejection? (these were young women who were unwed, pregnant and basically thrown out of their birth families, some the victims of incest) No, they weren’t.

As one, named Mary said: “We have troubles but we don’t worry.”

One day I was walking down the street,  I was tired, and out of the blue, it struck me that all these women were from the proletarian class.  And as quickly as that idea struck me, other ideas poured out.   A whole new hypothesis broke loose in my mind.  I realized my entire theory would have to be changed.  I saw at that instant that it is not rejection by the mother that is the original trauma which is the source of anxiety (in the daughters…);  it is rather rejection that is lied about.

The proletarian mothers rejected their children, but they never made any bones about it.  The children knew they were rejected; they went out on the streets and found other companions, (and I believe mother substitutes…JKB) There was never any subterfuge about their situation.  They knew their world—bad or good—and they could orient themselves to it.  But the middle-class young women were always lied to in their families.   They were rejected by mothers who pretended they loved them.  This really the source of their anxiety, not the sheer rejection.  I saw in that instantaneous way that characteristics, insights from these deeper sources, that anxiety comes from not being able to know the world you’re in, not being able to orient yourself in your own existence. “

Above From “The Courage to Create”, Rollo May, 1975

Though Dr. May is talking about how concepts can be overturned, how the unconscious holding to something that might not be true in theory (what he was taught by his professors) there comes a point hopefully, where a radical rupture with what is ‘known’ is overturned and something new, a new development in theory …is formed.

I will just put forth my own speculation, and this is because of my own experience with a narcissistic family member and also from my own class position, or that of my mother.  Middle class parents, or upper class parents have a social position to ‘protect’.  They would be ‘shamed’ for outright rejection of their children, be ostracized by their peers, social class, IF they were open about their hatred, dislike, contempt, etc. of their children, and especially when the mother is the narcissist and a daughter is her scapegoat.  They are protecting themselves, and hence the extended lies about their pretended love of their children.  They will talk in ‘glowing terms’ (to outsiders) about the very children they dismiss, demean, abuse privately, but they don’t want to get ‘caught’ doing this by their social ‘club’.  That would mean that they failed in some important way as a parent.  Within dysfunctional families of a particular class, it’s all about protecting the ‘image’ of the family.  Further, it’s all about protecting the narcissist. (However, the longer this behavior of the narcissist continues…say decades, they lose the impulse to cover their behavior:  they rewrite history to say the victim, the scapegoat has left the narcissist, caused the ‘riff’,  thereby pulling sympathy for themselves from anyone who doesn’t know the actual history of the narcissist.)

I remember an incident in an ex family.  The adult children were heavily involved in drugs.  They were a prominent upper class family, with much social connections to protect.  One of the sons wrapped his sports car around a telephone pole, and his mother said that “they had enough money to make anything disappear.”  Again, it’s all about protecting image.

So, we have discussed this issue before of rejection by narcissistic parents, and our anxiety is never really knowing where we are in the family.  We are kept unbalanced, anxious, by the (sometimes sociopathic) behavior of narcissistic parents.  Our anxiety comes from not being able to know the world we are in, not being able to orient ourselves in our own existence. “

And the narcissists in our lives take great sadistic pleasure in doing this, in increasing our confusion, our inability to know our place in the family.  They depend upon this.

For me, this above relates to what I wrote in the first part of this essay, that our creativity comes from our core, our centeredness, knowing ourselves and believing, taking courage in our abilities regardless what and who are trying to throw us off our mark. When we attain clarity as to the functions of a dysfunctional family, or family member (and there usually isn’t just one….other members are impacted and take on the behavior of the Chief Narcissist) we can put these destructive people behind us and go on to developing our creativity and living a better and fuller life.  They are only boulders in the road, though seemingly solid ones,  and we have to go around  or over them.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

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Tags: “The Courage to Create”Dr. Rollo MayNarcissismwhat is real creativity

This entry was posted on November 7, 2017 at 6:16 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Edit this entry.

19 Responses to ““The Courage to Create”, a reading of Dr. Rollo May’s book.”

  1. kanzensakura Says:
    November 7, 2017 at 7:06 pm   editWow Jane. This is a tremendous body of work, extraordinary. Creativity vs. Talent. I know I have talent, but I often wonder about my creativity. I do not have to have prompts to write about, but it sure does get my talent flowing. Creative? I have to say no. Looking at your incredible watercolors I state unequivocally that you have both talent and a creative soul. Reading your prose and poetry I say the same thing. I may not care for a certain work but that is just my personal preference. It does not denigrate your creativity, only my personal taste. I for one wish I could be half as talented and creative as you.Liked by you
  2. ladynyo Says:
    November 7, 2017 at 7:53 pm   editSweetheart Toni! Do not put yourself down. I have read some poems and haibun that you have written and I wish I had written those!
    So much of our creativity is buried deep down. There are many detractors around and we can really be twisted up in their ropes. I really doubted that I had any talent at all, because I was comparing myself to others, and frankly? This isn’t fair to do to any of us. We are all at a different level or understanding. I think the issue is what Rollo May says: In times of great stress, of great sadness and depression, of loss and doubt…perhaps your creativity is just simmering inside…awaiting that ‘prompt’ in what ever form it comes.It took years, decades for me to acknowledge that I had any talent…My creativity was born of great pain. I had no comfort or support except my husband Fred and my 102 year old Aunt Jean who died in 2014. Of my entire family, those were the only two that encouraged me. One side of my family just ignored me. I was not ‘worthy’ of the so-called Christian company. Rollo May speaks to that very well. I just wrote a little about what he thought of theology. Hah! (since my sister in law told me that ‘when I became a Christian, I would put bathing suits on my nudes. Since I had painted only one, I was rather surprised at that statement and I also never became a fundie like her. LOL! )My attempts to ‘explain’ Rollo May’s marvelous (and not long) book fails because he is so much deeper and in a way, simpler than what I attempt to do in ‘explaining’ him. LOL! I posted this (and I knocked out the beginning 700 words) just to try to answer some of these burning questions we all have of ourselves and our ‘place’ in the universe. LOL! Of course, with my family, (and my dear father never lived long enough to see any of my paintings or prose) it was ‘overtime’ to denigrate any ‘talent’ I might have thought I had. That is why I hate religion and what it does to people. Them, mostly….but until we shake our selves free of preordained concepts about ourselves and what we ultimately are ‘worth’ (because underlying all of our life, we are always turned to consider that…) . Our creativity is without price. It develops slowly, and only comes out when we gain a measure of ourselves ad what is possible. I have fought my entire family for decades because they thought I was stupid…..and what was stupid was that I kept going back to this empty well for water. Look inside and especially when we are in a place of grief (which I know you are) and our creativity will grab us by the toenails and pull us in. Or we will pull it out. My great desire is that you see your beautiful and original creativity and spread it around. I have learned so much from you, Toni…and we share that very rare interest and talent in understanding things Japanese. Love to you!Like
  3. kanzensakura Says:
    November 8, 2017 at 1:43 am   editLove to you Jane. I am just such a perfectionist about the poems I am serious about, that mean a lot to me. Like my Ode to Dying Autumn I just posted. I’ll be I revised it 50 times in a month before posting it. I’m glad it met Frank’s criteria for Meeting the Bar Thursday at dVerse!Like
  4. kanzensakura Says:
    November 8, 2017 at 1:44 am   edit oh yEAH. I am really proud of this one.Liked by you
  5. ladynyo Says:
    November 8, 2017 at 2:21 am   editAnd so you should be. It’s a layered poem and beautiful.Like
  6. ladynyo Says:
    November 8, 2017 at 2:23 am   editWell, you work harder on your poetry than I do. I am a wanky novelist and write long. I admire those who can embrace poetry and make it flow. That’s hard work for me.Like
  7. petrujviljoen Says:
    November 8, 2017 at 7:14 am   editHi Jane. A stunning article! There’s a couple of points I’d like to discuss:Intro
    ‘’The ‘emptiness’ within corresponds to an apathy without and apathy adds up, in the long run, in my belief, to cowardice.’’
    – I know this apathy well. It gets so heavy there are times it is a battle to lift one’s hand to take a bit of food, let alone get up out of a chair or bed to create. One is battered by life so much, so often … It is indeed a good night’s sleep, or seeing something beautiful, a birdsong, a kindness from a stranger sometimes – something along those lines that gets one up and going again.”Why is creativity so difficult? Why does it require so much courage?
    My painting was fine, and my sculpture was fine, but she demanded that I choose between one medium or the other. I couldn’t and was very confused by her mentality.’’
    – this is crazy! What would she have thought about your ability to write too? I paint, I write, I do carpentry, I sculpt … I dream …‘’anxiety comes from not being able to know the world you’re in, not being able to orient yourself in your own existence. “
    – this is profound! The explanation of where this comes from is true too! I lived it.‘’Nature of creativity
    Superficial creativity (art forms) that deal with only appearances or decoration, but not with reality is part of this collection of pseudo forms. True artists give birth to some new reality….and it is usually fought against by the multitude because of its alien-ness. … Picasso was a good example of this, (and his creativity took so many forms and not all of them embraced) and it can take generations for acceptance by the status quo. And then the artist probably is dead and only the super wealthy can afford the genuine art.’’
    – I wonder about this … It’s been a while now that I tolerate this so-called pseudo-creativity. For me, as long as someone engages in an act of creativity, on whatever level, it’s a step in the right direction. I think it was Rumi who said: find love wherever you find it… something to that effect. Doing a bit of decoupage, however mediocre the result – I’ve watched people’s faces as they engage with the craft – the joy, the peace. It’s enough. Not everything has to be profound.– Regarding Picasso: not fond of the guy or his art. He stole many of his ideas from other artists like George Braques, Leger and so on. He was super rich in his lifetime, from his art. He was also a misogynist. He abused his female partners. Dora Maar, an artist in her own right went mad on account of his treatment of her. He burnt Francois Gilot’s face with a cigarette when she wanted to leave him! He gave her no money to look after their children. Only after she left him could she blossom. He was an out and out jerk!Thanks for an informative and inspiring article. You mentioned aspects I didn’t realise with regard to narcissistic parents.Like
  8. ladynyo Says:
    November 8, 2017 at 5:06 pm   editYour reply/comments to this article are Wonderful! This is what I look for when I post things like this…and I rarely get it. I love how you have taken these points (May’s and mine) and applied them to your own experience and existence. This is the reason I write these things. I learn more from what people say, when they care to say anything constructive…than I learn from my own thoughts, meanderings.Yes, art doesn’t have to be ‘profound’. doodling can be enough to make it into the front row. LOL!Picasso. Right On! The guy was a colossal Ass. He was a Narcissist, a liar, a thief, and a misogynist. But he was because he was, first a narcissist. All these ills/sins come from narcissism. And when a parent is a narcissist, the child grows up under a rock, never being able to bloom in the shadow of the narcissistic parent until she breaks and runs for it. But that doesn’t usually happen in childhood. I know from where I speak. And it is deadening and is a PTSD that lasts for a lifetime. The coping mechanisms break down, the offspring always is working and living under a dark cloud of doubt and low self-esteem. These things are universal. And even the death of the toxic parent doesn’t erase the damage done.But thank you so much for your insight and reading of this article. I wish Ihad written it better and deeper, but then again, it was enlightening to me, May’s book….enough to inspire my own thoughts. Blessings on your head, dear friend.JaneLike
  9. petrujviljoen Says:
    November 8, 2017 at 5:40 pm   editI seldom respond in such depth but did this time because I was inspired. It’s a great article. I’ll find the book and read it when I can. Your painting is both jade and emerald. Be well Jane.Like
  10. ladynyo Says:
    November 8, 2017 at 7:51 pm   editThank you! That is so kind of you. I thought your comments were excellent. I wish this would happen all the time to things I write. LOL! Please find the book. I got it on (used books) for very little money. He has others and I have bought them but haven’t gotten time to read. “The Courage to Create” (his book) answered so many questions I have had over the years…or even not be aware of. Thank you, again!Like
  11. Bodhirose Says:
    November 9, 2017 at 3:17 pm   editWhat an amazing and in-depth article you have written here, Jane…so much resonates with me…as you well know. This statement really grabbed me and I saw myself in this so clearly: “…that anxiety comes from not being able to know the world you’re in, not being able to orient yourself in your own existence.“ I certainly had difficulty finding my bearings in my childhood, actually it took me well until I was an adult to finally start finding some stability in my emotional and physical experiences.I also was intrigued by what May wrote about encountering…yes, it makes much sense to me. I have an ex boyfriend who was one of those who spoke much about all the things he was going to do…and made promises…that never came to fruition.Thank you, Jane, for such an informative essay and of sharing your own experiences with your life and family members. As you know, narcissists have been a part of my life too and it’s really impossible to have a “normal” relationship with them. It will ALWAYS lead to pain. Your approach is the only way…no contact…when they have clearly tried to destroy you.I will be getting his book soon. I think it has much to offer.Love you,
    GayleLiked by you
  12. Bodhirose Says:
    November 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm   editP.S. Oh, and your watercolor is gorgeous! xoLiked by you
  13. ladynyo Says:
    November 9, 2017 at 6:13 pm   editGayle, I am so happy when any reader says that they will get and read his book. It’s a bit dated, written in 1975, but the principles, concepts are universal and timeless. Narcissism: A Universal Evil. I think the original evil frankly.A couple of years ago, I was on a website for a few years that addressed this issue. It was NOT a religious website. So many of those people who talk about narcissism are embroiled in religion and they can’t seem to break from those set concepts of religion where parents are tops and children are just…colleratal damage.I then presented this essay for the group and we had a lot of discussion about it. Mostly how we were lied to about by our parents…that they protected their social standings, that we were just fodder for their concepts of their status. Etc.That “not being able to orient ourselves in the world, etc” is straight from him, but it resonates so deeply in my own experience. I am still struggling to find my place. The
    ‘turn it over to God’ doesn’t work for me. Doesn’t answer it at all for me.I have written a number of essays on family narcissism (and writing a book: “Memories of a Rotten Childhood”…) LOL! and perhaps because this family narcissism is so wide spread and universal perhaps it’s time again to dust off those pieces and put them on the blog.And about No Contact? Hard to do, because they can suck you back into their web and for no good reason except they can do it. It never comes to any good as you know. And parental narcissists can easily make narcissists out of the children. That has been my experience. Narcissism is a destroyer of any future relations whether the chief narcissist is dead or not.Thank you, Gayle, for reading this and your insightful comment. deeply appreciated here. Some people might not have this experience, and they don’t know how blessed they are. But both of us have grown because of this universal sin.Love, JaneLike
  14. ladynyo Says:
    November 9, 2017 at 6:14 pm   editThank you, Gayle. that painting was easier to do than I ever expected. It was a black and white small photo from an Italian cookbook. LOL! Some paintings are like that…and some drive you to despair!Like
  15. Bodhirose Says:
    November 10, 2017 at 2:00 am   editYou’re welcome, Jane. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most people have probably had relationships with narcissists but perhaps not in close proximity like we have. Makes a big difference. Yes, we both learned a lot through our experiences and have come out more aware and stronger for it but something tells me that life doesn’t have to be so difficult…we can choose a more positive viewpoint at any given moment. Now doing it…that’s the trick. Takes practice. Love to you, sweet friend.
    GayleLiked by you
  16. Bodhirose Says:
    November 10, 2017 at 2:01 am   editAw, how nice that it flowed easy for you. ❤Like
  17. ladynyo Says:
    November 10, 2017 at 4:50 pm   editNo! No!… Just THAT time. LOL!Liked by 1 person
  18. ladynyo Says:
    November 10, 2017 at 4:57 pm   editYes, we are both stronger for the fight in our lives against these narcisssits too close and personal….but it has beaten down ourselves, too. The energy expended in all ways takes from the energy necessary for creation. Ugh!
    And you are right: Life doesn’t have to be so difficult. But that’s the trick. When we KNOW that the narcissist is ‘bad, destructive’ for us….we need to ‘run away!”. But the sneaky suspicion starts when we are children and we Can’t run away. Such is the power and control of the parent…and survival of the litter is never assured outside.But those of us who were the ‘deployablies’ inside the family pod? We are much more resilient than those who were not abused. We are more independent and I think…much more compassionate. And smarter. LOL@Love back to you!
    JaneLiked by 2 people
  19. cavedraw1 Says:
    February 7, 2018 at 12:31 pm   editI personally started reading “Courage to Create”-In myself as a artist…”I call it “To much contemplating!,..Not enough doing!”..thanks for your work and sharing-good stuff,

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Autumn Poem of mid November, 2020

October 11, 2021

Autumn Poem of mid November, 2020

October 11, 2021

Autumn Poem of mid November, 2020

This waning Autumn season,

That bursts upon the mindscape

Through the vehicle of landscape

And mingles dazzling elements

Of color, odors, tangled undergrowth,

Where things are lost in each other

And plausible limits vanish,

And with the passage of days,

Or  a violent rainstorm—

The Earth is transformed in scarcity,

A stretching silence

Insulated by hoar frost and later snow,

Where color is corralled

Like old black and white horses

Barely moving against bitter grey of day.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2021

Some Autumn Tanka…

October 9, 2021

Some Autumn Tanka…

October 9, 2021

I wander the fields

Snow covers the barren soil

Sharp wind plays pan pipes

A murder of crows huddle

Black laughing fruit hang from limbs 

I look up at blue

Sky this morning, watch leaves fall-

Whirling, colored tears.

Clip my face like dull razors,

The stroking of memory.

Is the whistling

Of the wind- a train, a plane?

Nature plays fiddle

And our senses are confused,

We dwell in chicanery!

Shooting star crosses

Upended bowl of blue night


Fires up with excited gaze!

A moment– and all is gone.

This grim November,

The month of my father’s death

Always bittersweet.

My memories float, weak ghosts-

Hauntings in the fog of life.


A late Summer moon

Floats above the conifers.

Autumn is coming.

Do pines know the season turns?

Their leaves don’t fall; do they care?

I walked a landscape

An unfamiliar dreamscape

The only sound heard

Was the tinkling of bells

Then silence covered the snow

Season of silence

Muted nature frost bitten

Black limbs empty, still

A vast field of whiteness

No music comes from the wind.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2020


Haibun: Healing with Nature

October 7, 2021

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