Particle and Field

August 2015



Dwellings – 13 by Ellie Davies

Summer Solstice 2015

I sat with these images by Ellie Davies late last night, my 13th Summer Solstice in the UK, listening to music until writing began flooding out of me. my imagination is particularly intoxicated by this image, Dwellings – 13, where a hut made from sticks inhabits the foreground, but offset so we can’t see in, then our eye traces back towards a black wood-encased Void. It is the end of daytime – the light is quickly failing and there is a sense that we are about to be sucked into impenetrable darkness. At once haunting and seductive.

I noticed the instinctive-ness of my response – animal – like heckles on the back of my neck animal – and meandered into wonder about metaphor and its etymology in evolutionary biology. metaphor as human species medicine. stories as life line.

Suddenly it was 3am.

What if down that dark path, where that primordial fear is, lies the seed of everything that eventually becomes known. The unknowable realm of pure potential. We pull hunches and whispers from that Void. In our huts we weave them into form. Incubate them, shape them. Then, after a day / 9 months / 13 years, we place them in the cold light of the world and move in relation with them for a time – tribe – daughter – artwork.

Some forms never become viable enough to tolerate the brutal light of day. We, the living, have to let them go back into formlessness. Some whispers are not for weaving; were never meant to be gathered into the hut in the first place.

How on earth would we cope with the human condition were it not for the elixir of metaphor?!! A song, poem or art work that knows us somehow, when we can’t think for agony, or pull our tired bones up off the floor for heartbreak? A Pablo Neruda poem that seems to know me better than i know myself. A messy dance in our living room to Beethoven. Music and metaphor bring movement where before there was only entropy, obscenity and death.

The shapes we make have symbolic resonance of wider species experience, maybe even interspecies experience. And they are instant feedback machines. They resonate with life and are true. Or they don’t and are discarded. Life cascades through the right metaphor. As with in, so without.

Metaphors are our song lines, our binding agents across time, currents that translate meaning across space, across history, across difference.

If I didn’t have metaphor to help me make movement, heartbreak would have broken my back a hundred times. My banal pain becomes a window into a shared experience. without metaphor i am trapped within my own subjectivity. Isolated from the flow or life.

So today I am grateful for the unknowable darkness we were all born from and return to and for metaphor.

Today is the longest day before the light goes into retreat and we in the north are plunged gradually back towards darkness.

So an invitation to dare ourselves to bravely visit. Be an explorer of depths. It is maybe frightening and difficult to navigate. culturally it is not a popular place to hang out. some friendships cant handle it. Most religions are allergic to it. ‘stay in the light!! stay in the light!’ but dare to go there, be penetrating, fearless and full of wonder anyway. What is calling to you to be bought out of the darkness and into form next year?

What ever it is, may it leave the place a little more like love than how you found it.