We all see the world through some kind of metaphorical lens, which filters our reality according to our beliefs – beliefs we probably don’t even consciously know we are applying and certainly do not remember where they came from. In fact, we all live in a reality distortion field of one sort or another.
When we change the lens, however, we change our perceptions and this can open up a rich vein in our art. We can imagine the three dimensional scene we are viewing is actually flat in reality. We can choose to see only tones and substitute colours with similar tones. We can see the shapes around a subject and paint those instead. Once we see differently, we can represent it in our art.
The same can apply when writing lyrics and changing the lens has opened up a rich source of subject matter for me.
To explain what I mean, consider this little thought experiment: When you cannot rationalise or understand shocking events, or why wars persist, or why there is grinding poverty in a world of plenty, or how some corporation or other makes money without it being clear how they do it, people often shrug their shoulders and say, “beats me”. Worse, some people concoct or adopt some convenient fairy story that seems to fit the facts, suppressing the disquieting feeling that such things cannot happen in real life. The lens is in place.
When confronted with a conspiracy theory to explain these things, these people often immediately reject the possibility on the grounds that no decent human being would plan to do that. Or else, they believe that no such conspiracy could exist, due to the inevitable lapses in security and the difficulties of co-ordination, dismissing the possibility that conspiracies may be no more than the collective actions of like-minded people acting in uncoordinated synchrony. They have no way to distinguish this seemingly fantastic explanation from the one they believe.
That may be because they are looking through the wrong lens.
If you suspend the belief, for one moment, that the people behind these apparently inexplicable events are decent human beings and instead embrace the mere possibility that these aren’t decent human beings that we’re dealing with at all, then things may suddenly snap into sharp focus and crisp relief. You might realise that not only would they do despicable things, you may begin to suddenly see that they already have and perhaps much more that you are yet to discover. This moment of sudden illumination is a sign that you may have finally selected the right lens. When the inexplicable suddenly makes perfect sense and the mysterious aspects suddenly become crystal clear components of the new world view you have just formed, there is a pretty good chance that you are now seeing clearly, perhaps for the first time.
Lucidity and insight are often a matter of selecting the right lens. Use this technique in your own art. You might find surprising results. You might discover a renewed purpose and passion. It’s worth a try.