During the first term of this MA during a seminar discussion, we explored the allegory of Plato’s cave (Platos Republic VII, 514a to 517), and I felt myself being drawn to the idea of the cave being a womb like place in which gestation can occur; a place of darkness where, having lost a sense of self or meaning of life, we can either relinquish our journey or discover within us, a spark of awakening that can initiate a return or a rebirth. It reminded me of the myth of the descent of the Sumerian goddess Inanna to the underworld and that night, I dreamed of being in a cave deeply asleep as if in hibernation. I heard something calling me, yet could not identify the sound; it felt more like an intuitive ‘hearing’ and yet seemed to come from within me. It was urging me to rouse myself. On awakening I amusingly thought I had dreamed of the opposite of the opening lines to Inanna’s myth; “From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below” (Wolkstein, Kramer and Williams-Forte, 2004, p.52).
I had, in my dream, opened my ear from the ‘Great Below’ to the ‘Great Above’ and the idea to explore her myth as a creative performance began.
The idea for this project was rooted in Marie Angelo’s imaginal inquiry. According to Angelo, imaginal inquiry means trying to look at “the image as a living presence, entering its mythos and cosmos (narrative time and ordered space) and learning of it through participating in it” (2005, p.13). She argues that “if we allow the image to teach, to educate the eye, then we are gradually led to its heart, from the general to the particular, rom the outside inwards” One of the main objectives of my creative project was to create a piece of visual art that could have the transformative function that Angelo talks about. For me this meant conjuring a project that in some way codified a symbolic message that I wanted to convey to the world. In other words, an image with which one can engage and create a living bond, and not only look at.
In astrological parlance I suffer from the affliction of a Saturn/Mercury conjunction. In layman’s terms, joining together Saturn (contraction) and Mercury (communication) may make oneself very uncomfortable in one’s expression. Indeed, I have always been bad at telling stories – be they jokes or life stories – always feeling that I was losing people’s attention half way through, always having difficulties to really embody the story and own it. A cruel lack of confidence in the delivery, especially when the audience exceeds four people. The Creative Project was therefore a perfect opportunity to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. Tell a story and learn a little bit about yourself, I thought.
For the creative project I chose to compose a collection of poems to present to the class and wider program community as a recital and a printed booklet. During the course of the year I have written about two dozen pieces, more or less related to materials ad ideas explored through the MA. I selected eight that were the most direct responses and memorised them for the presentation. In terms of creative praxis, the process can be expressed as comprising two parts: the act of composition and the reflective tropos, bringing the poems from the realm of the subjective to the ‘universal’ audience.
The poem ‘Shards of Glass’ expresses the fragmented post-modern experience of both the sacred and the mundane, seeing if it is possible to go beyond the mere expression of this experience and find some kind of unity, at least on a personal level. It explores how our personal myths and stories may interact with ‘established’ myth, and how objective reality may function as a gateway to the sacred.
The inspiration for my creative project arose out of an essay on the role of symbolism in the Dionysian rites. I developed a very personal connection to the material, trying to imagine what the rites may have felt like for those who participated – the essay was formal, but as I wrote my head was filled with spontaneous images and lines of poetry. I wrote the poem in four sections to reflect the Four Levels hermeneutic (also the idea of cycles of life and death, and of seasonal flow) but allowed the work to grow organically. With Dionysus as the narrator, I hoped to capture some idea of this deity’s compulsive attraction and beyond that to contemplate what ‘deity’ might signify in the first place. My professional work involves teaching and practising astrology, at the centre of which are the gods of classical antiquity – for some astrologers these represent psychological drives or Jungian archetypes; for others there is a more overtly spiritual or religious connotation. Although Dionysus is not included in the astrological pantheon, the creative project was a way for me to question myself on my own understanding of deity.