Thursday, May 22, 2014

Judging the Round of Time

This is a clock I saw in Nürnberg in the National Museum. I love old clocks like this, with faded paint and numbers. Something about the duration of time is encapsulated in a way that a brand new clock can't attain. That clock has certainly seen some time, but I don't know much about the clock. Perhaps there was a picture there in the centre, because it looks a bit like an atlas. That's our reference to space, because time and space are bonded. Clock and watch makers often feature square frames - said to be an attempt to get away from the endless wheel of the clock face, a design to join time and space. Old grandfather clocks often had graphics, a pictorial view of time and duration - day and night, sun and moon. In mythology, Kronus, one of the most important Titans, seized world dominion and swallowed all his children. He was a destructive God, representing time as all-consuming - the past tries to stop the future. It points to the ravages of time, which are really the ravages of duration. The experience of time leads us to judge it. Think back. Have you been having a good time? It's always about judgement! If we dream of clocks, are we judging our experience of temporal phenomena in our lives?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Wine, Inoxication and the Psyche

The cherub with grapes is in a small park in Nürnberg. There are two of them and they appear to guard the way to a beer garden. Wine is the blood of the grape and so cross culturally, intoxication from alcohol (and wine in particular) is associated with immortality, knowledge and initiation. Muslim mystics called wine the divine love (The Wine Ode: Ibn Al-Farid). Wine was so much the elixir of the Gods that consumption of alcohol was part and parcel of the ancient Gods’ fabric. Christianity followed suit and placed wine at the centre of ritual. The bearer of grapes looks similar to the way that Eros is depicted and since there are two, that would make sense. Eros lost his space in mythology and became relegated to the world of art, where there would be more than one of him and most likely winged. Gilbert Durand (1963) pointed to the connection between wine and youth as secret and triumphant. The archetype of both wine and milk contain sexual and maternal qualities. If you dream of wine, it’s unlikely to be about drinking as such. From an archetypal point of view, wine is divine. It’s a miracle that transforms from plant into free spirit. So within the psyche it may be connected with a higher state and a positive inner life.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Archetypal City, Steeples and the Phallus

The Frankfurt city skyline is almost archetypal. It's all about the money and the phallus. The banking centre reigns supreme over what's left of the medieval city post war. The picture is taken from an old church tower, nearly as high as the bank buildings. Both reach to the sky and in that dynamic, similar things are at stake. In medieval times, the city is the centre of the life force. The city is a protective mother. Yet the church steeple thrusts up to the heavens as a sign of power. In every society a single class claims universality - that is, it claims to stand for all citizens, not merely those of the ruling order. So do the bank buildings. In this brash and impressive display, they seek to convince us that we all share in the power of capitalism. As we have seen recently this is an illusion.  "The phallus hardens or softens in the presence or absence of energy." Single-sided to the last, the banks seek the comforting power of patriarchy - but are entirely oblivious to life and to the interests of the majority. The energy they draw on is fake, self manufactured and ultimately it dries up. The medieval tower also rose to the heavens and signified an altogether different power that was more than each individual, more than the sum of their parts. The aristocracy and the church offered itself as universal, just as the banker class does today. But the medieval city represented mother and children. What now does the city represent?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Green Cans of Life

I was visiting a graveyard in Nürnberg and the gardener was very active indeed. She had assembled these watering cans into a rather fetching design and so I made my contribution to her art. Watering cans are always about gardens and gardens are paradise on earth. Even - or maybe especially - when they are graveyards. Graveyards have the symbolism of tombs and are female in principle, offering safety, growth and comfort. It was certainly so in this graveyard, a perfectly tended garden with many volunteers. Here in this place, the body changes - the life and death cycle contained within the bounding walls of the garden. Watering cans these days are usually plastic and almost always green, the colour of hope, of pastures and eternal youth. There was something ordered about the watering cans that I really liked. They were poised and ready to water the grass, flowers and the vases placed on graves. Indeed, the watering can is something like a vase, always open to the heavens and carrying the elixir of life - in this case water. We place flowers on graves as remembrance but in so doing we salute memory of a life. Without water, life does not continue - so water something is very precious, a natural, caring act that belongs to humanity.