Friday, 3 May 2013

Having dinner with Mr Palasmaa and Mr Murakami. Music by Mr Arvo Pärt.

“The uniqueness of the human condition is this; we live in the manifold worlds of possibilities, created and sustained by our experiences, recollections and dreams. The ability to imagine and daydream is surely the most human and essential of our mental capacities. Perhaps we are human after all because of our capacity for imagination.” 

So wrote Juhani Palasmaa in 'The Thinking Hand'.

You have to go for that. Its kind of makes the heart beat a little faster, pushes the flow along, even sets a few ripples running. My imagination spills out a dinner, a supper perhaps, call it what you wish. A simple meal at the very least. With decent wine. The meal begins at the edge of light and dark of the day. I did not invite them, it just happened they were there. The three of us. Juhani Palasmaa, Haruki Murakami, and I.

Mr Murakami spoke elegantly on passages between states of being, of holes in the earth, elevators, spaces between hotel floors, and staircases leading 'somewhere other', all these featured in his discourse. He finished his train of thought with the following flourish: "What the real world is; that is a very difficult question".

Mr Palasma and I lifted our glasses and sipped gently, when he finally came to a pause. A dignified silence fell over the table, a salad arrived without our bidding to cleanse the palate. Just as the thought arose to empty my glass completely, Mr Palasmaa said:

“A work of art may, of course, have conscious symbolic contents and intentions, but they are insignificant for the artistic impact or the temporal endurance of the work. Even the simplest work of art in terms of its external appearance is not devoid of meaning, or of connections with our existential and experiential world. An impressive work is always an image condensation that is capable of mediating the entire experience of being-in-the-world through a singular experience.”

Then they turned to me as if anticipating a sweet dessert followed by a good coffee.

"Gentlemen, the dinner was excellent; the meats succulent, and the vegetables fresh picked. Being in the world, or reaching toward another, surely shows us we all are our of own mind, perhaps this is the 'ultimate isolation' Mr Murakami has indicated. In the same instant, we are both freeholder, creator and a diaphanous insect caught in amber. Whether creating a garden or writing a poem, the source is the same. The desire to fuse the 'aloneness' with the need for touch, contact and communication. To invite, to engage with and to provide a thread of narrative. Just as the garden offers you a path, the poem can distil down an incident, a fragment, leaving you to re-create reality every time for yourself. I used to see things differently, everything was defined simply by form, shape and texture, now I can begin to see the movement, the shifting of weight, more clearly. It is like looking into a stream surface to try and catch a reflection of who we are. " I spoke with as much conviction as possible in the circumstances.

"I have just a few scraps of poems, and then my pockets reach fresh air."

Arvo Pärt's 'Alina' provided the music.

Without form
Of itself
Water gives birth to form
From that which contains it.
A river flowing
A cup of tea.


Seagulls calling unseen
                         So far from the sea -
                         Last light of evening.

            Willow branches
            swaying in the breeze-
            even the frogs are silent.

Among & between the trees -
bird song and pre-dawn sky,
the cautious step of the doe
and the saunter of the fox,
all returning to ground and origin.
Spirit awakening to itself.

                                                    Fields of rape seed
                                                    Dissolving in morning mist-
                                                    A kestrel at rest.

                                                   Darting from stone to stone,
                                                   Only by its motion -
                                                   the wren reveals its presence.

A quiet corner of the garden
Wind rustling the leaves,
Sparrows calling to one another.

Raindrops dimple
The river’s rushing skin
Quivering shadows dissolve. 

  When I came back they had all gone, in fact everything had gone. No tables or chairs, plates or spoons, no ambient lighting, no echo, no scent at all. Yet the memory lingered in bone and muscle, held in a back eddy, circling about itself, until the the time would come to let it go. As the river runs on.


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