Not Form, But the Marrow of Forms: Reflections on Lorca’s ‘Duende’ in the Arts Therapies

Hougham, Richard (2015) Not Form, But the Marrow of Forms: Reflections on Lorca’s ‘Duende’ in the Arts Therapies. In: Through the Looking Glass: Dimensions of Reflection in the Arts Therapies. University of Plymouth Press, Plymouth, pp. 14-23. ISBN 9781841023922


What lies in potentia in the client is given the chance for expression through the arts therapies, tapping into a creative stream which is both personal and collective at the same time. The spontaneous creative moment is difficult to understand rationally and impossible to predict. Yet there are certain characteristics in these moments, which may help develop languages with which to reflect on psyche and the creation of meaning. In this chapter, I turn to Lorca’s idea of duende as a way of reflecting on this spontaneous and creative force, when a fullness of being is experienced partly through the letting go of form, allowing for the presence of the unknown. I refer to Lorca’s essay ‘The Theory and Play of Duende’ (Lorca, 1991) where he provokes thinking about duende not through the perpetuation of form, but from mining what he calls ‘the marrow of forms’ (46). The work of the artists Nick Cave, Jez Butterworth and Mark Rylance is then briefly discussed in relation to duende, drawing out further aspects of the nature of creativity, and ideas of loss and initiation. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the duende in relation to arts therapies training and practice.


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