Perhaps I am not thinking of rules in the way that Allen and some others think of them. . I think of "rules" as helpful tools, not as criteria that need to be conformed to. . I think the term "rule" is a misnomer, and if anyone thinks of a photography "rule" as something they are supposed to be doing, then they are greatly handicapping themselves.
Many of the "rules" can be freeing and enlightening.
The way I see it is like this:
When I view a scene before me, that I want to photograph, I have a certain vision in my mind's eye as to how I want the scene to look in my photographs. . Often, I have difficulty figuring out how to get my photos to look the way the scene in my mind's eye looks. . The "creative vision", or whatever you want to call it, is there. . But I often have trouble getting this vision onto my sensor. . But, if I learn a few rules, then sometimes those rules can be used to help me bridge the gap between the real-life scene and the image that is in my mind's eye.
The rules don't have an affect on what my vision is.......rather, they help me to accomplish the vision that I already had before I even considered them. . And no, none of the "rules" are so deeply ingrained that I consider them sub-consciously. . The "rules" are nothing more than helpful tricks that help me tackle the technical obstacles that often stand between my vision and reality.
I think that when people call the things "rules", that is the problem. . The way I see it, the "rules" that folks speak of are actually "tools". . And tools can help me create because they help me get what is in my mind onto the medium.