Come Close Again III


A soft landing…

Who would have thunk

this white sand

might be a catchment

for a dream beyond

the boundaries.

Why do we live happily

within silly confines?

I do not know.

But look, look!

It is so!

Postscript: I recognize every Shakespearean scholar will piss on this post, my daring to say look, look, so offensive to their domain. But really: Look. Look!

It’s time to write a poem

The sun is setting.

Or I guess, we are spinning,

literally, like the back hand springs

the girls would practice

on the playground

at East Farms School,

from Maine to New Mexico

they cut a path

on the map Mr. Keller

painted the summer

of the bicentennial,

these fifty united states

in horrible yellow paint

on the blacktop.

This round about trip

through the universe,

even from this desk,

looking out over

my right shoulder is so…

…so damn beautiful.

The Amplification Effect

This is an invitation to a group exercise.

By way of explanation, I was struck by a recent post by Sadje on the value of comments. It got me thinking (which can be dangerous), so bear with me.

I’ve enjoyed learning about all the different writing prompt exercises shared on this platform and pondered how I might contribute something that would support, but not simply duplicate, the activity I see thriving.

A Fondness for Group Exercises

I was fortunate to take a class in graduate school called Teaching Across Cultures. Professor Jon Barlow challenged us each week to create group exercises to perform with the entire class. Each week we’d head home with a framework and the following class would be spent performing all the different exercises students created.

Dr. Barlow’s rules for any exercise were simple:

  • Directions needed to be written on one page.
  • Participant safety needed to be assured.
  • The exercise needed to be performed within ten minutes.


In Jungian psychology, amplification is a process whereby a symbol gets explored through association within the therapeutic session, often relating to symbolic material present in a dream. It differs from free association where one thing leads to another, and to another, over and over, etc. With amplification, the goal is to circle the symbol or theme with various associations, continually returning to the symbol. The resulting pattern of inquiry, like the petals of a flower, brings the fullness of the symbol to light.

Amplification is also the method Jung used in his writings to expound on symbolic material, drawing upon mythic, historical, cultural, and universal analogies to unconscious material of a collective nature.

What if?

So, what follows is my attempt to create a useful exercise that is not specifically a prompt. The goal is to generate the amplification of a symbol that can be useful to artists and creatives in all mediums. I will provide a focus with symbolic content that emerged from unconscious material, either my own or an acquaintance’s (used with permission!).

The symbolic content explored will adhere to Jungs definition of a symbol:

“For Jung, symbols are language or images that convey, by means of concrete reality, something hidden or unknown. They have a numinous quality only dimly perceived by the conscious mind.”

After 24 hours I will post a mind map image, what has been called an association network, of the results. The psychoanalyst Edward Edinger’s example, shared here, will be a guiding model.

If and when work is created, I will link to it if you let me know where it is posted. There is no deadline for that to happen.

In some ways, the result of the exercise will probably be somewhat like a whiteboard after a group brainstorming activity. My hope is to release The Amplification Effect every Sunday morning. While I anticipate needing to make a few tweaks and adjustments through trial and error, I think it’s focused enough to launch and be useful.

The Amplification Effect, a group exercise performed in the comments.

A symbol is provided, and participants are asked to share at least twice with an amplification of that symbol.

1. Participants self-select.

2. Responses are placed in the comments to this post.

3. Each participant replies with an amplification of the symbol.

4. Each participant replies with an association to another participant’s amplification.

5. Participants are encouraged to repeat steps 3 and 4 as often as they wish.

6. Participants are encouraged to reflect on the group results of the exercise to provide an impetus for future creative work.

Postscript: Consider linking back to this post with any work this exercise generates. Links from this post to any work generated will be shared below.

Week #1 Amplification Effect Symbol:

A ring that is not a ring.

Join us in the comments below!

Group Response Mind Map:

A ring that is not a ring

Links to Works Generated:

Cosmic Wake by Richard Reeve