How I see what is really there, what is not there, and what it has cost me.
When I was a young child I saw shapes and colours around things and on things that were not the same as the shapes and colours of things. This was not the consensus view, but no-one bothered to tell me off about it. Had they, it would have ceased immediately, as I was terrified of censure. If I was wrong, surely I was unlovable?
About the time I started to feel the clinging malaise left by my father, like smears of oil over the furniture and on door handles, surrounds, and especially light switches, it became apparent that this facility had hidden costs. You cannot un-see broken limbs in a mirror, or angry koalas in a light switch, you have to learn to cohabit with them, or you must switch off this skill. I chose the latter, as it appeared no-one else could bear me when I was being 'sensitive', and so when my face was slapped one day by the back door, I submitted to the mundane view, became an automaton and began to put on armour.
Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry restored my faith in the believability and utility of facts, and yet had that subtle gleam of mystery which not even a cowled heart can resist. Fibonacci, the idea of infinity, the dual wave / particle nature of light, (and the slit experiments we did to show this - ah!), the blessed and holy Periodic Table of Elements were my Alpha and Omega, my grail. Where my Christian faith died my materialistic belief encroached. ‘It's ok, little one, it will all be explained. If you too become an explainer, you will be saved’.
I had always made connections, like that James Burke TV programme I so loved as a girl. For me, the world was a living web of not-separateness. I just transposed this childhood ecstatic (and spiritual) world-view onto the ordinary world of facts and figures, I joined them all up, (though it was second best). This appeared to my teachers at school as though I was the perfect student: engaged, lateral-thinking, delighted by learning. They did not know I was panic-buying facts and hoarding them. For 4 years I had only As in anything at all except English, (where I had two Bs). Ah, but my storytelling was dead, too much at risk to tell ‘untruth’, and so no real truth in my telling. No one knew I was clutching at the universe to keep it from flying apart. I was as though a poltergeist in my own life, holding things together with extreme mental effort, which had I left them alone, would have atomised and taken me with them.
This is the fear of no story, no meaning. When story is terror and danger, and has been banned and proved wrong, how can you trust anything that is not literally correct? But then, how can you live without story? It turns out that you cannot, or not without going mad.
Art held out, in its own room, with the beautiful weightless feeling when deep in drawing. I was able to not-say, and not-do and so be free of the tyrant of definitions. Just in this one space, (and at Art Foundation for two years at Shelley Park), and then dead, dead as soon as I was at my Bachelor’s and later Master’s degree courses. There, theory, thought and words ruled, and I learned not to shirk my commitment to the mundane view, lest I should be labelled a lightweight, a dreamer, or worse, earnest.
Song held out, and has held out all this time, how? It has been like the tower that will not fall, not even to the entropic weaponry of the Empire of the Machine. It was not as though Song ‘fought back’. It was just impregnable, safe, protected. It still is. It is a marvel.
Art and story gone, colours in the air gone, poetry gone, nature gone, spirit gone, wild gods gone, humour of all kinds (except clever word-play) gone, ambiguity gone. Side effects: memory poor, as no correlations can be made; intuition: the enemy. If I am feeling something and I cannot tell you it clearly in words, why then, I am harbouring a lie, yes? Root it out! My drawings were lifeless, my art diagrammatic, my writing perfunctory, but on stage and in song I was still partially free and wild. Also, in sex, I remained free, how? I do not know.
Intuition is the immune system of the organism, outside the skin of the organism. It is where attacks are sensed before they reach the body, it is how we avert disaster in the street or home. Mine was locked down, and so I made many blunders, got attacked and usually tried to placate the attackers. The habit of all gaslit good girls.
Many years passed like this, I cannot tell it all now, not even really begin.
But to cut to the chase... Doing Heart Work and T'ai Chi pulled me to pieces, into the pieces I was meant to be in, not the falsely reconstituted robotic young woman I was. The daily challenge of meeting my teacher, the Void, the depth and the impossibility found there in it, was medicine too. What is this? Over and over until the question was genuinely not relevant any more.
It was like eating dandelion leaves and horseradish for years, bitter, bitter, but also cleansing. And dreaming survived, and brought back humour, and when humour returned all was not lost. Humour brought back chinks in the armour, which the T’ai Chi partner work prised off in great bloody clods, so much had it melded with my body and behaviour. Even after meeting the spruce tree Crone in early menopause, when my torso felt raw and alive, this too was vestigial armouring falling away. Maybe it will always do so, subtly. I hope so, I want to die as I was born, no - less armoured than I was born, as I was wrapped in metallic scales even then, donated by my parents.
I want to die a free woman.
So now that I walk around the world largely unprotected, using intuition and outreaching to avert disaster rather than defending myself once it is too late, everything is transformed. (Though sometimes I do still wage a brutal and unnecessarily cold defence, for no real reason. There are always casualties, sometimes me, sometimes another. I will one day put down that war club for good.) Colours are returning. Much of what I say and feel is beyond the pale, I know. But readers do not seem to mind me this way, so I will share it.
So, this is how I know something like jewels nestle between people’s gnarly roots. When I look without using my eyes and write without using my rationality, yet somehow expand my reason to include the vastness of unknowing, which is a far superior resource than the known, I find I can see treasure where there was none, or perhaps where it truly is. I have no proof of my intuitions, nor can I point to your treasure. But when I say, 'I have a drowned river in me, which still flows', it is truer than saying, ‘I feel a bit tired’, even though I am a bit tired now.
I am interested in the truths of the realm of the unknown. Anyone can point me to the facts of the known. I am also very interested in the unknowable. I outreach to the horizons and my ancestors, when I ask them, (dead and gone but still living), ‘Help me look after my friends and family, and help them face their difficulties,’ they do help. They help me keep my centre line and yield, on days when all I want to do is everything I cannot do.
I know we have gems in our roots because we have roots that have gems in amongst them! Those gems are our magic. Those roots are our wild nature. That water is our fate. A boat and a rowing man is apparent us, a flying bird is dreaming us. The landscape is our life. I only know all this by not knowing anything at all. Reader, you may know more, or other, than this and it would also be utterly true.
Writing is how I ever find out what the hell it is I am doing. I would never bother telling just me, so I am glad you are reading, so I can tell you too.
This week’s good thing: No links, just the daffodils and books on my desk right now, and the daffodils outside my window through the blinds, in conversation. May your week be full of similarly good company.
I must once again speak personally this week. I may return to having one foot in the discursive world next week. It is important that I allow in some of my unconventional context, after all, this is ‘Uncivil Savant’, not ‘Hot Takes on Tyrannic Tech’.
On the audio version, the words ‘the Void’ here, sound on playback as though I have put a strange phasing effect on them. I have not, (as I am not reading out Poe or Lovecraft!) That effect was not in the original recording, I have checked. I haven’t added any effects to this voiceover. I do not know how or why this sound effect has occurred, but I am not going to go back and re-sound-engineer the whole piece. I am just leaving this strange aural mystery here in the voiceover, and letting you know it’s welcome here, and neither deliberate, nor a ‘fault’, but something else, unknowable.
I love this definition of intuition. I am always searching out views and experiences of intuition as I feel like I was deadened to it for a long time. Your perspective has brought something new to me, thank you.
I quite love your foraging, adventuring, clear-cutting your way writing. Along with intuition I have sometimes experienced something I would call 'presence'...a kind of unknown known...it guides! Many Thanks Jerome