Clean Language for Writers and Artists, with John Davis

John Davis and Marco V Morelli discuss who could benefit from Clean Language training, and John attempts to help Marco understand how Clean Language could help writers and artists develop richer metaphorical landscapes. John also relates his experiences as a counselor and activist during the AIDS crisis, and touches on how psychic and paranormal experiences have informed his creative writing.

During this talk, John also discusses the relationship between trauma and transcendence. In a later conversation on the forum at, John added the following notes.

We have discussed this Clean Language philosophy, Marco, before and I am open to further developments as I believe it can be used in this process we are in the midst of to articulate desired outcomes and to purify the speech of our tribe. Fiction, story telling, and the language arts are crucial for the Generative Self to arise from the ashes. So I will elaborate further some notes that I’m making that reference some of our previous conversations. Please appreciate the impromptu nature of these comments and I hope they are of use for they reference those previous discussions on Clean Language and how I believe it can be employed to train the Imaginal Intelligence and turn trauma into transcendence; indeed there is an element of trauma that may be necessary to activate this intelligence. I’m working out this perhaps controversial idea in the following notes. Patience is required!

Some people have one trauma and can be served best with developing a metaphor for that traumatic episode.

Persons who have had multiple traumas, especially as children, have learned how to use hypnotic skills to dissociate (go somewhere else). This can be triggered at the mere hint of another traumatic episode about to happen.

Dissociation as a strategy for coping with multiple traumas is a great survival strategy; you can float up to the corner of the room and watch it from there. Often this talent can also be developed in non-traumatic experiences: in art, theater, fiction, we use the same processes to deconstruct and reconstruct identities creatively. We can go into other worlds.

Working with dissociation was one of David Groves’ keen interests, and when he worked with me he used a lot of Clean Space. I have found the interplay of Clean Space and Clean Language has worked best for me.

I strongly resist the notion that experts know best. I worked with experts without Clean Language and they are often terrible with trauma. After working with an expert I developed a Tourette’s-like syndrome that lasted for a decade.

I found that a good CL practitioner with a beginner’s mind and an open curiosity can work wonders with traumatic events. Luckily, I have had the good luck to train someone in using CL and after he worked with me once a week for three months my symptoms disappeared. I have been free of symptoms for over a year. I much favor peer to peer relationships than the more traditional ways of working. Someone with an arts background and CL is much better than anyone who has immersed themselves in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual.

So having reviewed these notes in public I see I have a lot of work to do as I move through the personal multiple traumas I have struggled with, cultivating good trances and finding reserves. And how does that learning become knowledge that can serve the groups I am a member of? Not sure. Thanks for this forum and may we continue to bring our Best Self to this Mandala of Generative Selves in the making….


Episode music by Chris Zabriskie. (CC) BY 4.0.