Friday, 25 November 2022

The Gifts of Darkness

The Kickstarter for my new book, Speak, False Machine has advanced through more goals. Now before us lies the wonderous miniature art of Ana Polanšćak, the Gardener of Hecate, and this leads me to think on the substance of darkness..

(all images from Gardens of Hecate by Ana Polanšćak)

Shiny forms, reveal their mass through gleam, through reflection; slashes and beams of bright light, can even form fully reflective surfaces with images of the world inside them, and the more reflective and shinier something is usually the 'colder' we perceive it to be

What then for the opposite? The felted surface, hair, fur? If the shining surface is in a close relationship with light is the matte  or the textured surface in a relationship with darkness, or with shadow, or with life?

For the shining surface is so rare in nature, usually only through liquids or crystals. So the shadowed and textured surface speaks to us of time in a way difficult for the gleaming surface which often seems timeless, related to its most common natural examples; water and crystals, both almost empty, or full of light, while for any shining, solid surface, as soon as it becomes subject to entropy, it tends to become matte, textured.

In the natural world, very few things are like the sun, but many are like the moon.

Nature then speaks to us of life and time through the textured surface.

The gift of darkness is that it, more than light, focuses the mind on what can be seen, and demands suggestion.

Suggestion is inherent to shadows, even to be shadowed or to be in shadow is a half-state, that part of something, or some aspect of it, can be perceived yet that the whole cannot.

Very different to darkness where sight itself is cancelled out and perception re-sets around a different range of stimuli, in a sense to be trapped in shadow is more terrifying than to be trapped in darkness for in pure darkness the path is clear, one must listen, smell, touch, explore carefully, think deeply and remember everything, while sight is lost the order of perception, though limited in total, is made more clear in its arrangement and necessity. What to do is more difficult, but knowing what to do is no longer a matter of confusion, so we may devote everything to the challenge ahead of us and thereby find meaning within it.

The challenge of shadow therefore is not the difficulty of perception only but the simultaneous meta-difficulty of both attempting to perceive with limited information and also trying to decide what to try to perceive at the same time. There is a lot to do within the mind when things are in shadow, there is a lot that must be done when things are in shadow, it is by its nature a state of meta-perception in which the mind must juggle not only its own perceptions but the nature of the limitation of those perceptions.

In states of fear or stress then, the shadow can become a well of infinite fear, the suggestion of a suggestion, the worry of a worry, the fear of an illusion and the illusion of fear, all feeding off each other in an endless circle of recursion.

Yet there is also a gift of shadow, for the same processes and necessary meta-perception that call us to an infinite abyss of negative possibility, if viewed without fear, can call us to any possibility, to the deep and simultaneous consideration of not just what is known or unknown but also how it is these things are known and unknown, of what the mind can perceive and also, at the same time the inherent limitations of that perception, and through this; sometimes fear, but sometimes also peace, humour and perhaps wisdom.

Therefore to dwell upon shadow is not necessarily to dwell in fear, or even to dwell upon self-deluding obscurity (though this is surely a great danger), but to live honestly, in a realm of things half-seen and poorly understood, which no matter how flawed it may seem, is only the honestly represented realm of our own minds, where things are always thus, and therefore while to dwell upon shadow might not lead to the same grand heights as that of clear light, if considered properly, it is less deluding and more aptly humbling, and if the heights are harder to reach, if one is truly thinking, the failures are also easier to avoid and the path more certain.

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