Intuition is to artists what common sense is to most people. You may presume that everybody has it. But as with common sense you really cannot know for sure. Is it truly as common as we think? And there is always the big issue of predictability. If you go by intuition, is there any way you can be sure of the result? Touch and go!
And yet, we intuit more than we think we do and perhaps even more than we care to admit. And it is true, some people just have better intuitive skills than others. Take fishing and the problem of where to cast your line. Is there really any way of knowing where the fish are? So why is it that some people actually do catch fish while others hardly catch any? How do they make it look so easy? Do they know something we don’t?
Intuition must be related to experience. Take drawing. The first few times you try it, you have to think about every little mark you put on the paper. A few more lessons along the way, and then you have to think about other things besides those very first lessons. With time you realize that you’ve become really good because you hardly think about it. You just draw.
The distance between imagination and drawing has grown shorter. You never ask yourself how a mark should be done. You just go ahead and do it, seemingly, without thinking. But is “thinking” really absent here? Or has the mind simply established such clear pathways for doing something that thinking becomes so automatic, so quick, we hardly know we think at all? Perhaps that is what intuition is.
After all intuition is not like a person, lost in a forest, who decides that one direction is just as good as another since it cannot possibly make you any more lost than you already are. For we all do know that there is no limit to being lost. You can always get more lost. But it makes sense to go downhill instead of up if you are lost on a high mountain. And if you follow a stream hoping you have the better chance of finding a village this way, that makes perfect intuitive sense.
Is it intuition which makes a writer write grammatically well even if he or she has forgotten all the rules of grammar? Is knowledge of grammatical rules prerequisite to being able to speak a language well? What about Cebuano? Do we know exactly what its grammatical rules are? “Naa gyud tingali. Wala lang ta kabalo.”
What is the Cebuano word for intuition? It is not exactly “panag-an” since that literally means guessing. And intuition is really more like “educated guessing.” Is it possible “educated guessing” is so natural for us we do not even require an exact word for it? But perhaps “bana-bana” will do even if that word is still just synonym to guessing. Certainly “bana-bana” does not contain that sense of “inner knowing” which accompanies the concept “intuition.”
Perhaps we might learn some more by going about the problem the opposite way. What is the opposite of intuition? Can we suppose it is “knowing what you are doing” the same way an engineer goes about building a bridge? Makes perfect sense. The Cebuano word for being sure is “siguro.”
Unfortunately, it is also used in our language inside a context that makes it mean exactly the opposite of being sure. It can mean maybe. As when you ask a Cebuano where a place is. If the Cebuano is not too sure, the answer might go: “Naa diha siguro.” The difference of meaning is communicated only by a subtle inflection of voice. Siguro means “sure” only when it is spoken without accent, spoken straight with a sound that seems to animate for us certainty. But when the word is spoken as if the end syllable flies, then definitely that means “maybe.” And so beware.
Yet the difference between the two ways of saying it is so subtle you can tell the difference almost only by intuition. Certainly it is a good intuitive guess to say: Cebuanos are naturally intuitive. Theirs is not a society so urbanized that they learn what they do only from formal schools and training programs using international standard curricula. In most cases, the Cebuano teaches himself or herself how to do things. They become so good at doing things they hardly know they are thinking when they are doing it. And the common Cebuano is not as structured as most others. Sometimes, it can get admittedly out of hand but that’s another story entirely.
The common Cebuano “feels” his or her way around things. Perhaps the closest Cebuano words to intuition are “pagbati and paminaw.” The words literally mean feeling. “Sunda ang imong pagbati o paminaw” simply means “Follow your heart.” Which is something a Cebuano will most likely do anyway notwithstanding established knowledge and literature. To be sure this piece was done purely and entirely by intuition. Is it any good? Siguro.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.
Copyright 2012 INQUIRER.net. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate: c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94