Adam ManyParts:

Adam ManyParts

Re-posted May 22, 2011.   (For more about the component parts, the little characters shown in the coat, click here.)
   Or, click here for Further Autobiographical Notes.
     Click here: for Adam's Cartoon-Bio, or how he came to create his many characters.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Adam Blatner's Many Parts--indeed, what you see is only a small selection! These, however, do reflect some of the imagined roles and favorite cartoon characters who have enlivened (infested?) his psyche over the last 55+ years. In truth, he--also known as "I" (since I am admittedly the author of this description)-- am closer to what might be called a “multiple personality order.” (This is a play on the condition that in the 1970s was called “multiple personality disorder,” since renamed dissociative identity disorder—and in the 1950s, just a split personality. The point is that it’s not having many roles that one plays that is a problem, it is having an absence or weakness of a superordinate managing function, the part that makes the multiple parts of the self an orderly dynamic rather than a dis-order.)  Indeed, I’ve come to a point where I find people are most real and also dynamically vital when they have a rich role repertoire. Anyone who is only one person, one role, or who identifies primarily or overmuch with just one role, is a fool.

I play not only a wide range of ordinary social roles (some of which are mentioned in my biographical notes on this website), but in addition, a goodly number of playful fantasy roles. Many of these have been expressed in part as cartoon characters I’ve created. These characters have their own back-story, so to speak, and symbolize not just a character that can play in stories, but a blending of archetypal functions that, even when played simply in drawing them, or acting them out a bit at Halloween, still lend a measure of extra depth and resonance to life.  (To learn more about some of the "characters" in the various inside coat pockets of the drawing above, Click Here. Or you can access some of these by going to the cartoon section at the top.)

The activity of cartooning offers that interesting benefit. It’s a bit like a novelist, especially one who re-works the same general cast of characters into a series of stories. (I’m thinking right now of the little town and the people who play their parts in a series of mystery detective stories by Lillian Jackson? Braun, with a major detecting role being played by a psychic cat.)

Some of my cartoon-doodles go further and express whole complexes of intuitions that are again playful, yet on another level serious. Some have claimed that true art seeks to show people things that ordinary language cannot describe. I have a sense about the rich eventfulness and complexity involved in the simplest-seeming of everyday events, and that this richness resonates also with the true nature of the Sacred dimensions of existence. It is a celebration of life, a kind of visual poetry to draw these figures.

My cartoon-doodles also express a parallel sensibility, one that honors the unfolding of imagery through the spontaneity of the pencil and pen, the way ideas and images can carry hints beyond the conscious intention or range of types of awareness of the artist. I allow these drawings to surprise me as they emerge as figures, revealing ideas that I hadn’t noticed there at first or even after several viewings.

Similarly, a contemplation of the characters drawn lead to an unfolding interaction of drawings and half-contemplations, in which their qualities and stories become more elaborated. Subtle artistic, playful, and philosophical ideas mix in these unfolding identities.

I have an intuition that there are tens of thousands, perhaps millions of kids out there, who might well resonate with this mixture of the child-like, fantasy, and philosophically portentous elements. What if any of it were true, even indirectly? It’s a bit of fantasy, science fiction, and satire comic book (such as MAD magazine), all mixed up.


And yet with all that inner diversity, and in part because of it, I find myself reflecting on whatever unifies or underlies this  welter. On one hand, at the "ego" level, this is a playful depiction of what I discuss in my paper on the choosing self (or "meta-role"). I do have a managing part of myself that organizes and modulates when and how these various roles are expressed. That's how I'm not really crazy. On the other hand, there's also a deeper, more philosophical, or pehaps even spiritual process that is stimulated by this play.

The more I elaborate my different roles, real and fantasy, the more I become dis-identified with any of them, and with all of them, as time goes on--even the more "real" life roles I play. As I’ve argued in another paper on this website, self is what I’ve come to call an “aggregate experience.” It’s an illusion generated by an archetypal function in the self that makes the various inputs seem coherent, unified in time and space. The mind does this, but that doesn’t make it necessarily real. People often believe things that are illusions, delusions, superstitions, prejudices, neurotic complexes, and other forms of self-deception. People often come to believe in mythic and world-view ideas shared by many or most people in their culture, but that, too, doesn’t make such ideas ultimately true. This last point has become increasingly sharply provocative as we become more aware of other cultures who enjoy a similar conviction that their rather different ideas are equally true, or more true than ours.

The Zen Buddhists, especially, and the Buddhists in general all share in a worldview—a psychology, really—that recognizes the inevitability of tendencies to interpret experiences as if they were “real,” objectively real, ultimately real for all other people at all times. This tendency is the force they call Maya, sometimes even personified as a goddess. The various patterns that are believed in, the complex nets of perceptions, ideas, feelings, preferences, desires, memories, and so forth, those are called “samskaras.”

Naming them, identifying them as a dynamic tendency, reduces the cognitive and emotional attachment and investment we give these thinking patterns. Even the idea that we ourselves are real becomes attenuated. While the inner unfolding of perceptions, attention, will,desire, and so forth seem inevitable, the contents of what is perceived, noticed, screened out, cared about, focused on, and so forth is immensely plastic. The contents can be varied, but the underlying processes are free to go on.

When one contemplates the ways these ideas pour forth through the matrix of mind and body that is one’s own, it becomes near-possible to be impressed with their purity, the underlying dynamics, apart from their contents! What matters is less what I think than the mystery that I think, and even when I’m not thinking, much less thinking about thinking, I am always feeling. Often this feeling is quite rudimentary, and may drift into bland amorphous reverie, dream, blank-minded meditation, or mere sleep.

The point here is to let go of the desire, need, or even habitual inclination to take oneself too seriously. For me, my belief focuses on the Kosmos as alive, and that I am one brain-cell like function in the everwhere-centric Divine Creative Advance. I can die into that; it is glorious enough, worthy enough, to merit such a surrender. It’s sort of a mixture of the ideal of benefitting posterity, however small my contribution may weigh in the balance, and also a small sense that there is a cosmic knowing, a platoon of angels rooting me on, a multi-centric multi-dimensional Divine Spirit absorbing the full range of my meanings, including also all the fantasy/playful creations.