An excerpt from a forthcoming interview in OYA online magazine. Consider gathering with Tony Hoagland and Dr. Martin Shaw mid-Decemeber in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Details here.
….Many of us are lonely. And not because we need a new therapy, or mantra, or clever idea, we are lonely because we don’t speak to each other in our old names anymore. That requires real care and an acute beholding. The antelope-dust in our bones misses it. And if the reader can’t understand quite what I mean then that’s fine, but I won’t give anymore hints.
A lot of people loathe the way I write, and I take no great offence in that.
There are certain tangles I refuse to un-comb because I suspect a nymph may be sheltering in the discreet bough of an idea, or a leafy cluster of syntax. If I straighten everything out then she may have no home any more. I couldn’t bear that. Certain ideas or turns of phrase are shards of moonlight, or the hot flank of a tiger.
I’m not writing for academic acclaim or for royalties or to influence a million people, I’m writing a love letter to the holy maker of all things. I’m trying to speak lovingly and truthfully about the things I see quietly closing the door to this world and leaving. There are as many tears splashed on my pages as there is lines of ink.
I’m not writing about the gods I’m writing TO the gods. That’s a dangerous sentiment, but there we have it. I experience them as having an objective reality that is certainly intricately connected to ours, but in no way dependent on it. I don’t invoke the name Dionysus with an ironic wink.
As well as all the animal species and plants leaving, certain energies are still rough-housing about the place. It’s naive and ludicrous to think the gods don’t exist If we don’t think about them.
Consider the implications, the smugness of that statement.
…..If you experience soul as something primarily outside the body then the tendency to internalise sensations of longing switches into a much greater sensual range. It’s likely you have most of what you need in close proximity if you have the guts, tenacity and lack of hysteria to follow it. Most of us don’t like what’s right in front of us.
Your life experience is the very prayer rug you are kneeling on. That’s your axis-mundi, your Gethsemane, your Grail Castle, your holy hills of South Dakota.
If you don’t like it, then create a better weave!
….A decent storyteller lives in a tension of tradition bearer and artist-as-destroyer.
The stories we tell ourselves are spells of a sort. Each spell has a mythopoetic inner-structure to the words that then influence our experience of the world we witness constantly materialising around us. Some spells liberate, some trap.
That’s not to fall into wishful affirmations night and day. The situation is more complex. As phenomenologists would say, there’s a wisdom in seeing things as they are – but that doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate with their ‘are-ness’.
We are then into a big conversation about the capacity of imagination to materialise that negotiation.
So what do stories do? They provoke images that we fall in love with, and in doing so both tenderise and temper the heart. That fascinate us, educate us, infuriate us, throw a cloak over the seeming mundanity of our years and, while sheltering under that woven world, we realise that the cloak is the blue tent of the sky and the earth we stand upon is teeming with flowering miracles.
A tempered heart behaves differently. It has a relationship to passion that doesn’t require ultimate annihilation of its obsession, but stands in perennial courtship, not trading in a temporary seduction. Speaking as a man, it understands husbandry.
A mythic sensibility is a call to action – has to be, this is love story! – but an action that comes not from hysteria but from reverie. The acuity of response, and then the fidelity to that response, is what could create the outer changes you are referring to.
There is a great deal of grief coming to us, and it’s myth that helps us curate that grief, make us usefully fall in love with it, not file it away as a statistic.
Copyright Martin Shaw 2017
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