This is just a short note on how to think about the Sky symbol, in Primary Scenes.
Sky = Spontaneous Creativity
The Visual Symbol for Sky
Of all the symbols in Primary Scenes, Sky may have been the easiest to come up with. It was effortless and natural to draw this “V” shaped symbol, of a distant bird in the sky (at least the sketch was easy, ironically designing the actual graphic was surprisingly difficult, compared to other symbols).
One of the reasons the Sky symbol caught my attention at the very inception of Primary Scenes, was its near universal appeal. It was seemingly format-independent. It worked if I was scribbling it quickly with a cheap ballpoint pen, in the margins of the last page of my notebook. Likewise, it worked if I was carefully positioning each wing by the pixel, in professional graphics apps like Affinity Designer. Regardless of the format, there was just something powerful and timeless about that shape.
I knew pretty early that the Sky symbol would be taking on a pastel blue hue, in its full representation. That said, I think sketching the Sky symbol so many times on index cards and in the corners of stuffed notebook pages, helped to purify and refine the symbol. There is that cliché about constraints being essential for creativity, and I must admit that this was absolutely true for the design of the Sky symbol, and really for Primary Scenes as a whole.
The Sky symbol itself, like all the symbols in Primary Scenes, is not meant to be a 1-to-1 depiction of reality. Instead, the symbols in Primary Scenes are there to point, to reference, to suggest meaning beyond the thing itself.
The Suggestive Metaphor of Sky
What is intended by the symbol for Sky? What is meant by the word Sky?
I think that throughout the whole of Primary Scenes, Sky is one of the more intuitive symbols you come across.
As soon as you know that all the blue symbols are relating to the Inner Landscape, ie, the inner mental and physical states of a living being, it becomes pretty clear that the Sky symbol is probably representing something positive and uplifting.
I want to briefly mention a few aspects of the Sky symbol and how they add to the suggestive metaphor.
As mentioned above, the actual design of the symbol itself is both simple and striking at the same time. The idea for the actual shapes is to give the impression of a bird flying through the wide open sky, with the minimal shapes and details required.
The pastel Sky-blue color further reinforces the sense of openness and freedom.
Spatial Orientation in Primary Scenes as a Whole
Another important aspect of the suggestive metaphor of the Sky symbol, is actually where it is spatially located relative to the other symbols in the canonical layout. Sky is located at the top level of Primary Scenes, right where you would expect.
This height, for the Sky symbol in the overall layout, helps to further communicate a sense of freedom and ascension.
Sky in the World of Human Experience
Sky, as a symbol and a word in Primary Scenes, is a suggestive metaphor for dynamics that occur in the world of human experience.
Creativity can be looked at in many ways. One of the best ways, in Primary Scenes and beyond, is to think of creativity as “combinatory play”. The basic idea is that creation, particularly at the scale of human experience, is always a matter of combining elements that already exist in some sense.
If you think about combinatory play, you must also think about spontaneity. The idea is that what happens in combinatory play, whether in a pickup basketball game between friends, in an improv theatre performance, when rappers freestyle lyrics off the top of their heads, when writers start typing before they know the end of the sentence, when entrepreneurs play “what if?” on the whiteboard, it all must happen spontaneously, or the cake is ruined.
So, with the Sky symbol, there is an intention to communicate spontaneity, though that intention itself came into the symbol spontaneously, not by plan. It is important to note that when we speak of spontaneity, we do not mean aimlessness, mind you. A bird in the sky is not aimless. That’s very key to understand. A bird in the sky has a purpose handed down by evolution, but crucially, it does not continuously think about its evolutionary purpose, it merely lives moment by moment, and spontaneously plays its part in nature. This is the sense in which spontaneity is implied by the Sky symbol.
Home of Flow, and More
In reality, actual birds fly by converting turbulent air, into laminar flow. This physical aspect of the natural world, lends itself, aptly, to representing a similar kind of dynamic within the human experience.
We often hear of “Flow” as a shorthand for high states of performance and engaged emotional states.
I briefly want to mention that while these “Flow states” are certainly a part of the Sky dynamic in Primary Scenes, the full implication of the Sky symbol goes well beyond the specific states characterized as “Flow”.
Briefly, the reason Sky, goes beyond Flow as it is commonly defined in psychological terms, is that Sky is really representing any situation where there is spontaneous conversion of randomness into order, of loose parts into combinations, or of turbulence into flow. The important difference between Sky and Flow, is that Flow states must check many boxes to qualify, while Sky is a more expansive term that is both home to technical “Flow” states, and also many other related states that may not technically quality as being “Flow” states themselves.
In this brief note, the Sky symbol, in Primary Scenes, was discussed from the perspective of spontaneous creativity.
We saw that both the visual symbol, and the suggestive metaphor, help to evoke a felt sense of freedom and expansiveness.
Lastly, we discussed how Sky presents itself in the world of human experience, wherever spontaneous creativity and combinatory play occurs, in many aspects of our lives.