Shifting Ground = Hidden Figures

Can you dig it?

Some of us believe that with positive attitude and a kind of right thinking we will be able to turn this ship around – in a moment of Amazing Grace. Others believe that the inspired creativity born of chaos can bring in lightning that transfers energy into the earth, and brings about change. I wonder why we are obsessed with the concept of change. Isn’t it another face of the old imperialist mandate: progress? Do we really progress or is the process more complex than that?

I’ve seen charts that show linear time as travel from A to Z in a direct line. And beneath that, a complex neural network – organic, non-geometrical, messy as hell. If positive thinking links up with the linear time line, then it can only feed into the old imperial mandate. But if it is more interdimensional in nature and scope, then it will improve things. Similarly, with activity born of chaos. When the natural creative process activates and enlightens the neural network, then there is a tremendous release of energy as something new is created. It looks to me like the real field to play in is the complexity, an unknown to be explored and discovered through our relationship to it.

There are no easy ways in, and its opening is like the Open Sesame cave: hidden unless you know the password. These are the things I think about when I’m not occupied by the requirements of daily living, and I love to go far in thoughts and their interplay. Words are the keys to this for me, and I’ll often contemplate a word along with its counterparts, imagine its origin, see it as a concrete object in its own right – not only as an indicator of something else.

I like to imagine the most poetic way a word or word group can be seen and understood. Then I transfer that thinking to the world around me, (just add an L  to word and voilà – World!) Limited by just the English language I can’t go full James Joyce with it, but the predictive interaction within “dictate” hints at that for me. It can bring up some very fun resonances and connotations – a whole other way of hearing what is said. It can be brilliant to see the words heard behind the words.

I think of it like Paris, when the spiritualist table craze took all the restaurants by storm – suddenly tables were lifting and turning, knocking and rocking with the sounds and actions of the spirits. I wonder if they were awakened somehow by the advent of the telegraph and electrification’s beginnings. Perhaps alarmed by progress? Whatever it was, there was a shifting reality. Spirits and ectoplasm disgorged into velvet-draped drawing rooms. Mediums convulsed as if in a state of electric shock. The language of flowers and sentimentality ruled the day, spirit séance came by night. Klimt and his consort strolled their grounds in long patterned robes she made for them – loose and free from the corsets of social requirement.

All this fuelled by the very industrial engines and satanic mills that Blake had so railed against. Blake, sitting in the sun in his birthday suit, speaking to his acolytes, “the ancients”. Both he and Jimi Hendrix asked if you are experienced. As the dad in the 50s told Biff when he asked for the car, “With this key comes responsibility.”

For what? You might ask. Who is responsible? People always look at problems and ask who was responsible for this? No one wants to own up. Those industrial engines didn’t build themselves, you know. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Forget the lilies of the field and get down to work. Put some clothes on. Remember, we have an imperative to progress at all costs, or Klimt won’t be strolling so easily though his gardens. In the future, that Monet won’t be fetching millions at auction, and the arms dealers and coal magnates won’t be able to stuff their bags of cash into art for safekeeping. All those earthly treasures stored in the Open Sesame cave, weren’t they just the aggregated loot of thieves?

Shifting ground reveals hidden figures. They step forward when the old unseen ground we take for granted shifts out of phase as we turn to look at it. When we see it, that ground in our gaze suddenly becomes a figure. And then, the figure, by necessity, exists on an entirely new ground – what had been behind in an unseen layer. All of our premises adjust as we perceive the new situation.

The problem of material life can’t be solved materially, by choices. The world we are living in has to be seen for what it is. That is a leap into the unknown, and it has ways of revealing what has been there all along, unseen. This endless discovery and interaction with life produces a wisdom. Merely stating the obvious brings out a resonance from the ground. Soon a shift occurs as the new figure appears and the new ground establishes itself. The old figure fades. Gods come and go through history this way. Civilizations also. And personal beliefs, and what gives meaning.

Let’s work quickly to see the ground we take for granted and bring it to light as a new figure. This is McLuhan-esque thinking.

Everything old is new again, and we can dig deep down through the layers, on this “sedimental” journey. Hum along:

Gonna take a sedimental journey
Gonna set my heart at ease
Gonna take a sedimental journey
To renew old memories …

Seven, that's the time we leave, at seven
I'll be waitin' up for heaven
Countin' every mile of railroad track
That takes me back

Never thought my heart could be so yearny
Why did I decide to roam?
Gonna take a sedimental journey
Sedimental journey home

(Apologies to the lyricist for Sentimental Journey. And check YouTube for lotsa versions of this.)


This Week’s Quote

The tree of knowledge is true
The tree of life is beautiful

- James K-M


Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

Thanks for reading! It means a lot to me, and I’m grateful.

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