Often, I occupy the foreground of my mind in order to ruminate with the “background.” I have little confidence in the accepted classification of conscious and sub-conscious phenomena. Nevertheless, I am aware of levels within the collection of activities that constitute the “presencing” of my “I-ness” (think David Hume).
Moreover, I think there is a place in art for the background to say more than the foreground. Indeed this inverse approach bears experimentation. In some ways, William James achieved this in the dialogue of his characters. What they did not say was louder than (even contradicting) what they did say. (At MECLABS, I have occupied the world with the foreground of my research, but the more interesting message lies ever-so-faintly in the background).
The best poetry speaks from the background, not the foreground. In music, proper attention is placed on the foreground, either the voice instrument or the direct message of the lyrics. But the more powerful compositions seep down deeper into the sub-soul of the listener (think Leonard Cohen).
Excerpt from: Short Story: On the Merciless, Relentless Pressing