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Maybe there's time to shout out ten wrong names before I stop them. Then I ask whether other people look larger or smaller — almost everyone sees people as different sizes, mostly as smaller. Often the size and shape of the room will seem to have changed, too. The students are amazed that such a strong transformation can be effected by such primitive means — and especially that the effects last so long.

I tell them that they only have to think about the exercise for the effects to appear again. My own rediscovery of the visionary world took longer. At a time when I seemed to have lost all my talents as a creative artist I was driven to investigate my mental images. I started with the hypnagogic ones — the pictures that appear to many people at the threshold of sleep. They interest me because they didn't appear in any predictable sequence; I was interested in their spontaneity.

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It's not easy to observe hypnagogic images, because once you see one and think 'There! You have to attend to the images without verbalising about them, so I learned to 'hold the mind still' like a hunter waiting in a forest. One afternoon I was lying on my bed and investigating the effects of anxiety on the musculature how do you spend your afternoons? I relaxing myself and conjuring up horrific images.

The effect was astounding. They had all sorts of detail that I hadn't known about, and that I certainly hadn't chosen to be there. The surgeons' faces were distorted, their masks were thrusting out as if there were snouts beneath them! The effect was so interesting that I persisted. I thought of a house, and attended to the image and saw the doors and windows bricked in, but the chimney still smoking a symbol for my inhibited state at the time?

I thought of another house and saw a terrifying figure in the doorway. I looked in the windows and saw strange rooms in amazing detail. When you ask people to think of an image, their eyes often move in a particular direction, often up and to the side. I was placing my mental images upwards and to the right— that's the space in which I 'thought' of them. When I attended to them they moved into the 'front' of my mind.

Obviously, at some time in my childhood my mental images had frightened me, and I'd displaced them, I'd trained myself not to look at them. When I had an image I knew what was there, so I didn't need to look at it— that's how I deluded myself that my creativity was under my own control. After a lot of practice at attending to the images I conjured up, I belatedly thought of attending to the reality around me.

Then the deadness and greyness immediately sloughed off— yet I'd thought I'd never move through a visionary world again, that I'd lost it. In my case it was largely my interest in art that had destroyed any life m the world around me. I'd learned perspective, and about balance, and composition. It was as if I'd learned to redesign everything, to reshape it so that I saw what ought to be there, which of course is much inferior to what is there. The dullness was not an inevitable consequence of age, but of education. I began reversing every statement to see if the opposite was also true. This is so much a habit with me that I hardly notice I'm doing it any more.

As soon as you put a 'not' into an assertion, a whole range of other possibilities opens out-especially in drama, where everything is supposition anyway. When I began teaching, it was very natural for me to reverse everything my own teachers had done. It was like having a whole tradition of improvisation teaching behind me.

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In a normal education everything is designed to suppress spontaneity, but I wanted to develop it. Cripples I made a two-minute film for a TV programme. It was all in one shot, no cuts. Everyone who saw it roared with laughter.

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There were people rolling on the cutting-room floor, holding their sides. Once they'd recovered, they'd say 'No, no, it's very funny but we can't show thatV The film showed three misshapen but gleeful cripples who were leaping about and hugging each other. The camera panned slightly to reveal that they were hiding around a corner and waiting for a normal person who was approaching.

When he drew level, the cripples leaped on him, and bashed him to pulp with long balloons. Then they helped him up, as battered and twisted as they were, and they shook hands with him, and the four of them waited for the next person. A Psychotic Girl I once had a close rapport with a teenager who seemed 'mad' when she was with other people, but relatively normal when she was with me.

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  4. I treated her rather as I would a Mask see Masks, page — that is to say, I was gentle, and I didn't try to impose my reality on her. One thing that amazed me was her perceptiveness about other people — it was as if she was a body-language expert. She described things about them which she read from their movement and postures that I later found to be true, although this was at the beginning of a summer school and none of us had ever met before.

    I'm remembering her now because of an interaction she had with a very gentle, motherly schoolteacher. I had to leave for a few minutes, so I gave the teenager my watch and said she could use it to see I was away only a very short time, and that the schoolteacher would look after her. We were in a beautiful garden where the teenager had just seen God and the teacher picked a flower and said: 'Look at the pretty flower, Betty.

    Nobody seemed to notice that she was screaming 'Can't you see? Can't you see! She was insisting on categorising, and on selecting. Actually it is crazy to insist that one flower is especially beautiful in a whole garden of flowers, but the teacher is allowed to do this, and is not perceived by sane people as violent.

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    Grown-ups are expected to distort the per- ceptions of the child in this way. Since then I've noticed such be- haviour constantly, but it took the mad girl to open my eyes to it. This makes it difficult to understand that education can be a destructive process, and that bad teachers are wrecking talent, and that good and bad teachers are engaged in opposite activities. I saw a teacher relax his students on the floor, and then test for relaxation by lifting their feet eighteen inches into the air and dropping their heels on the concrete.

    Growing Up As I grew up I began to feel uncomfortable. I had to use conscious effort to 'stand up straight'. I thought that adults were superior to children, and that the problems that worried me would gradually correct themselves.

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    It was very upsetting to realise that if I was going to change for the better then I'd have to do it myself. I found I had some severe speech defects, worse than other people's I was eventually treated at a speech hospital. I began to understand that there really was something wrong with my body, I began to see myself as crippled in the use of myself just as a great violinist would play better on a cheap violin than I would on a Strad.

    My breathing was inhibited, my voice and posture were wrecked, something was seriously wrong with my imagination— it was becoming difficult actu- ally to get ideas. How could this have happened when the state had spent so much money educating me? Other people seemed to have no insight into my problems.

    All my teachers cared about was whether I was a winner. I wanted to stand like Gary Cooper, and to be confident, and to know how to send the soup back when it was cold without making the waiter feel obliged to spit in it. Could teaching have had a negative effect? Emotion One day, when I was eighteen, I was reading a book and I began to weep.

    I was astounded. I'd had no idea that literature could affect me in such a way. If I'd have wept over a poem in class the teacher would have been appalled. I realised that my school had been teaching me not to respond. In some universities students unconsciously learn to copy the physical attitudes of their professors, leaning back away from the play or film they're watching, and crossing their arms tighdy, and tilting their heads back. Such postures help them to feel less 'involved', less 'subjective'. The response of untutored people is infinitely superior. Intelligence I tried to resist my schooling, but I accepted the idea that my intelligence was the most important part of me.

    I tried to be clever in everything I did. The damage was greatest in areas where my interests and the school's seemed to coincide : in writing, for example I wrote and rewrote, and lost all my fluency. I forgot that inspiration isn't intellectual, that you don't have to be perfect. In the end I was reluctant to attempt anything for fear of failure, and my first thoughts never seemed good enough.

    Everything had to be corrected and brought into line. The spell broke when I was in my early twenties. I saw a perform- ance of Dovzhenko's Earth, a film which is a closed book for many people, but which threw me into a state of exaltation and confusion. There is a sequence in which the hero, Vassily, walks alone in the twilight.

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    We know he's in danger, and we have just seen him com- forting his wife, who rolled her eyes like a frightened animal. There are shots of mist moving eerily on water, and silent horses stretching their necks, and corn-stooks against the dusky sky. Then, amazingly, peasants lying side by side, the men with their hands inside the women's blouses and motionless, with idiotic smiles on their faces as they stare at the twilight.

    Vassily, dressed in black, walks through the Chagall village, and the dust curls up in little clouds around his feet and he is dark against the moonlit road, and he is filled with the same ecstasy as the peasants. He walks and walks and the film cuts and cuts until he walks out of frame. Then the camera moves back, and we see stop.