Wednesday, July 14, 2010
..with no anchorage of values...
My third tattoo
Liminality. From the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold." The fear-driven part of my brain wants, what-- reliability, regularity, permanence, unconditional love, something to stick to. An old lover's father once had to cling to the railing of a walkway, so convinced was he that gravity had somehow lost it's rules, a kind of reverse vertigo. I would be remiss if I didn't say that I had the same feeling - Time is fairly meaningless, relationships are fairly meaningless. This is not to say that I don't care. Caring does not give a thing meaning.
This morning I walked around the Reed campus weeping uncontrollably for absolutely no reason until, crossing a bridge, I encountered a man lovingly holding a duck, cradling the bird in both hands. I hadn't been prepared for this interruption of painful & inspecific self-involvement. "Just my morning activity," said the man, passing me. He walked to the edge of the bridge and held the duck over the railing, then tossed it into the sunny air. "Fly, Harold!" he said. Etheridge would probably say that this means nothing. This is what he said yesterday (admittedly, in jest) when I told him that a cat ran up to me and walked beside me for a block and a half. Still, whether or not he made the comment in jest, it was true - desiring meaning does not give a thing, an event, meaning.
I suppose you can not really "give" anything at all meaning. One can invest meaning in anything -- a particular date, a glass bottle, a view from a a hill, a necklace. But the thing, the place, the event is entire within itself i.e. the specific,personal meaning you've endowed this thing with cannot be parsed out by others unless, perhaps, there is a clear signpost. A church, for example, has a more general meaning for a wider population, as does a grocery store, or a gun. Perhaps material things have more of a built-in meaning, a use, a purpose. Perhaps this is why our culture has become so INTENSELY materialistic : without surrounding ourselves with things designated for specific uses and purposes i.e. constructed (albeit, superficial) meanings, we are left with - what? Natural things. A dog, a bush, the moon, a fish. And what does it mean to watch clouds against the moon? What does it mean to watch the seamless V of birds carry themselves over the ocean?
Hey, Liminality. Hey, Void.
That's where the anchor comes in.
Don't ask me what it means.