Post-writing come-down




I've just handed in my dissertation after what can only be called four years of gruelling but exhilarating initiation at the University of Kent in Canterbury. It's been a long hard slog with lots of pitfalls along the way but I hope that all that angst and really heart-felt graft will prove worth it in the end.

The end product is not half as good as I would have hoped - it's such a poor reflection of all that it means to me or what I've learnt in the process of engaging with it. But I suppose everyone say that about their work.

In 'The Wounded Researcher', Robert Romanyshyn writes about the process of actively engaging with a topic and of the difficulty of giving voice to one’s intuitions, and of the failure to grasp the essence of a subtle world whose ‘presence is a space carved out by the absence of words.’

Which is exactly how I felt writing everything up. Despite over a year's worth of reading and thinking and having time to formulate my ideas, I feel as though I've only just scratched the surface of all the riches and wisdom that my topic had to offer and hope that in future I will get the opportunity to carry on that work.

Even during the process of writing, I felt my relationship with the material constantly changing. It's like an unfolding or unveiling of something that you sensed was there but couldn't quite grasp, like a delicious secret tanatalising you with veiled hints and clues, revealing itself to you bit by precious bit, but never enough to form solid ground from where you feel confident enough to say with confidence that you now understand and know anything with certainty. In trying to pin it down and give it substance and structure, you realise how poor your grasp of the whole thing has been and how much you have still to learn.

Yet the process is not without its rewards. In creating a space for it, and in giving it a voice, you suddenly find that it has a life and logic of its own and all you're really trying to do is listen to it and repeat what it is telling you that it wants to say. And that journey of discovery can be utterly thrilling and inspiring - you feel like you're on fire, alive, hyper-aware and in touch with a source of wisdom that is enchanting, powerful but also very old - an intelligence that has always been there, just waiting for you to see it's majesty and exquisite form.

Joseph Joubert wrote that 'Imagination is the Eye of the Soul' and, having spent so much with time with the work of Henry Corbin over the last few years, I am beginning to see what he meant.

In a way, writing for me is like divination. It is about listening as well as speaking, about letting something speak through you and acting as a medium for that message as best you can.

I am hoping that this space will allow me to refine myself as a writing instrument and provide a forum to share thoughts and ideas on topics that are dear to my heart, and that I hope will resonate with others too.

The title I have chosen for my blog is inspired by images used in the poetry of William Butler Yeats, a man who also seemed to have an interest in metaphysics and who. amongst other things, experimented with automatic writing and claimed that many of his metaphors, including the ascending spiral or gyre, which he used in poems such as 'The Second Coming.' I like the image because it suggests both a circular and a progressive image of time and growth - a movement that is both upward, in the case of a spire or tower, reaching heavenwards, (or downwards into the earth - I am not one to priviledge transcendence over immanence!) and cyclical. It offers a combination of the movement of nature, which moves in cycles, and a sense of growth, progression or movement during successive phases or repeats of this cycle until some sort of union or resolution is achieved.

As Ian McKea puts it, the gyre is 'a symbol of our unchanging silent origins, of nature, proud and noble, which like its offspring, art, outlives the human tragedy.'

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