Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not Charon's Barge

This small vessel plies regularly up and down the Grand Canal from the Mespil Hotel to the Barge Pub or thereabouts. I think there should be more of these vessels. They would provide a resource for what could be a more of a scenic asset for this part of Dublin. Maybe the reticence reflects an ambivalence about water, since Irish epic literature is a little short on boats and ships except for getting us to the mythological Otherworld. That said, nearly all civilisations have a boat of the dead. However I do note the presence of the barge in many mythologies. Certainly, Egyptian art and literature with its Underworld of haunted Canals and towpaths is alive with barges. So too Greek legends. But this is not Charon's barge, steering pilotlessly towards Hell. It's a cradle for the relaxation of the passengers - and hence it is a womb. Here, the ferryman is compassionate. He aims to carry passengers safely away from their earthly misery and bring them temporary joy. They can also feel cosy in the knowledge that the boat is very unlikely to suddenly sink. Yet ships, boats and barges share one thing for certain. Like individuals, they have a goal and steer towards it. Maybe psychotherapy is like a ship. It carries its passengers on a path of discovery in a safe container. There's a voyage out and a voyage back and change will doubtlessly occur on the way.