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From The Bendithion Chronicles
bibliomaniac
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“Last night I came across something in my journal from a few years ago and although it is, as these things often are, a mere stream of consciousness, I thought it had some relevance to our current discussion. I’ll write it here and say nothing else about it, so here it is: I have to turn everything into fiction in order to understand it. This is not in order to distance the story, but to enter it. If I do not do that, then my narration becomes suspect. I have no corridor of imagination through which to travel to the Other – to see him – to test whether my observations of him bear resemblance to his own self-perception or if I can reach into his reality far enough to take a backward glance at mine through his eyes.  

In the book I am currently reading, The Prehistory of the Mind, the author says that humans and animals shared a consciousness up to about 60,000 years ago. But we have become enfeebled. We cannot even share consciousness with another human. And right now, it is all I can do to enter my own consciousness. It hides, like an elf among the rational landscapes of my mind, finding and inhabiting caves and small cities invisible to the naked mind.

Earlier today, I saw Amy Tan on TED. She said that when she was in China last year, the elders sent a dozen men on ghost horses into the underworld to find the solution to a problem. I have been living in liminality so long that I have no trouble believing that. None at all. I did, after all, fall in love with Wales. I fell in love with Newman’s The Idea of A University, and with Mallory’s The Idea of Timothy. These things are all, in a sense, fiction. They are all imaginary in some measure. But how true they seem and are. How true. I often notice that when some people say they fall in love with these kinds of things (as opposed to falling into romantic love which bears no resemblance to this) they don’t really mean it. But I do.

I genuinely fall in love with statues and dead people, lines of poetry, the bones in a wrist, a voice, a streak of light, an aberration of thought, the scent of watercress. I form meaningful relationships with stone and spirit, fragrance and bone, the quick revelations in a word, Word or glance. Not – I want to be clear – with the writer of the word, but the word itself and its original referent. Not the person who gives the glance, but the glance itself. Not the singer of the song, the teacher of the taught, the painter of the painting, but the song, the pedagogy and painted. The disembodied entity – the voice, the interstice – the liminal – the non-time between the first stroke of 12 and the last. Not the name of Saturday but what that interval would be without a name.”

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Loving the voices

Hello! I missed Ms. Tan on TED, so I'll be sure to look for her. You've articulated a truth here that I haven't seen before but felt. Audiences seem to be confused about what they love, the work or the mind that produced it. Also, artists leave the traces of their thoughts behind as works of art (in whatever medium) and move on. The glance, the reflected dash of an outspread wing on a water's surface, or a green apple set on a saffron linen grip the heart and move our breath more quickly, widen our eyes to see what is and is not evident plainly.

The difference between you and others might be that you allow yourself to fall in love with liminal moments deeply and then express it. Too often people are inhibited from doing this and feel foolish. How sad and unfortunate.

Cheers,
Christine

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TED

Thank you, Christine, for this beautifully expressed comment. I think most writers/artists have the same or similar ways of relating to the world. I am just articulating an individual experience about essence and form. This is taken out of context, though I hope it stands on its own, but there is a footnote to the subsequent paragraph which reads:

"In Amy Tan’s lecture on creativity, she specifically mentioned “my right brain, my left brain dynamic and the one that’s in between that is the sensor”. This third, (the corpus collosum I mentioned in the Critical Commentary), is, to me, a liminal place. This lecture is relevant to the themes in this work on many levels and in several ways, particularly in her emphasis that creativity is possible after the realisation that “there are no absolute truths.” The lecture is 18 minutes long and can be found at: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/amy_tan_on_creativity.html "

I loved your green apple on saffron linen - these things light up the soul. But for me, it is appleness and saffroness that fuels such love. Thank you so much for your gracious commentary.