Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pointing the word camera

I was sitting at the wooden table under the rectangular green parasol on our narrow brick-paved front terrace, late the other afternoon, when it was warm and sunny.

I had drunk a glass of rosé and had been reading Hannah Green's 'Little Saint' (recommended). I was observing the goldfinches around the tree just across the way; another pair or another brood, but they clearly are still nesting, unless it's just the parent birds enjoying each other's company around the old place now the youngsters have flown.

I thought of how very small their nest must be, and how miraculous it is that a whole handful of fully fledged birds could spread their wings wide enough to carry them through the air in every direction, each one a discrete creature, from so tiny a container, just as it was marvellous that as hatchlings they had unfolded themselves from the diminutive confines of their eggs, living beings emerging from a space apparently impossibly too small. And about how birds, and the smaller they are the more it seems to be so, are concentrated kernels of life force and energy, seeming to contain a power and vitality denser than most of the world around them.

I thought about how ideas, ours, God's, could be like that, and I just felt as if I was on the edge of something. I was dizzy with joy and wonder of the moment, one of those when everything seems complete and as it should be, and the surrounding sounds and air and light seem to form a harmonious whole.

If I could just catch that slant of light, I thought, the way things are appearing now, 'point the word camera' just so... and I fetched pen and paper.

Away to my left down the village street were voices, a dog barking, then answering barks from up the road... at first this was fine, something the virtuoso balancing act of the moment could sustain, like a patch of obscurity or confusion or movement, a patch of dappled shade, in the composition of a picture which adds interest, dynamic, rather than distraction. But as I started catching words and phrases as my neighbour's brothers got into their cars and drove off, and as she came out of her garden and her dog and mine started to shout their protest and welcome respectively, it became apparent that the perfect composition I had, as I perceived it, stumbled upon, was disintegrating.

I brought out another chair and she joined me.

Ten minutes later, my Man from Porlock left, having refused the glass of wine a second one of which might have mitigated the interruption for me. I picked up the pen and looked at the line or two I had written; it looked banal and pointless. The light had shifted, clouded over, the objects looked flat and formless and without interest. I went in to start preparing dinner.

However, you can return, but pan out, away from the need for immediacy, from the bright illumination which seemed to offer so much but might only have been garish, over-coloured, pretentious. Use a different setting, past tense mode, take a wider shot, include more background detail, take your time, rearrange the objects a little even, no one will know if you're careful. Make a different picture, perhaps even a better one.

( My thanks, again, to Tall Girl for the phrase and the idea 'point the word camera', sorry, I can't remember which post...!)


Dave said...

A beautiful word picture of that segment of time around one of those rare instances of religious experience. A collision of your soul and God's mind, where the two waves in a pond reinforce to make something bigger.
Great Lucy.

Lee said...

Mmm..I like the idea. I love the result. Thank you.

herhimnbryn said...

Lucy, you have 'photographed' a wonderful moment for us. I recognise also,losing the moment, the connection sliding away, like something seen from the corner of your eye, glimpsed and then gone.

Your description of the life force in tiny birds, had my mind wandering back to Hopkins and his ideas of 'instress' and 'inscape'.

For a moment I was there, sitting quietly beside you, all thoughts of preparing supper gone.


stitchwort said...

"everything seems complete and as it should be"
just a moment like that is a jewel, and you know it will always be in your heart.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, what a beautiful moment to share by reading ... first thing this morning.

your experience brings to mind a piece of haiku that goes something like:

from time to time
while staring at the moon
a cloud will come to give me rest

Jean said...

Wow, Lucy. Wonderful to share this with you - and you really made us share it.

Anonymous said...

Lucy says - I've just typed this all in and then found I'm apparently not signed in! Sorry!
I am so blessed in my commenters!
Not only the compliments, which are naturally welcome, but even more the jewels of words,images and insights, references, poems,that you leave here; it seems to me that what I do is rewarded manyfold. Thank you.
Brother Dave - the two rings in the surface of the pond, yes, it's good. Though I used the G-word in the post, I am not certain what I mean by it, and that is, I believe, as it should be, so I would hesitate to call it religious experience, as I follow no religion; spiritual, perhaps though even that I am growing leery of, it seems a bland, non-committal, overused kind of word these days. (Numinous is being brought out of obscurity, but as with everything and everyone that is brought out of obscurity there is a danger it too could be spoiled!) The religious imperative, of course, and indeed the moral and social one, would say I should be available to my neighbour before indulging in my own self-indulgent rarefied experiences, and quite right too, and indeed I hope I am! As in the case of sharing here, it will bring in its own rewards; the closing and separating of that moment by her appearance possibly defined and accentuated it all the more, made a clearer picture. And also, I feel the more able to experience those moments of grace, if that doesn't sound too pretentious, because of being blessed and grounded in my reality here.
Lee - it's a good idea isn't it?
H - thanks, the corner of the eye thing, yes, that's it, and perhaps a mistake to think you can or should capture it anyway... Hopkins and inscape/ instress; time I looked again. when I studied it it seemed overly intellectual, the theological problems of God immanent in nature etc, but I think now I could feel it more.
Stitch - thank you, validation, reassurance, beautifully put.
Zephyr - the haiku is wonderful; and perhaps the breaking away from the moment is necessary relief, interesting.
Jean - good. Thank you.

Catalyst said...

Well, I was going to say "maybe just one more glass of rose would have brought back that thought."

But everyone else is so . . . serious (?) . . . that I guess I won't.

Jan said...

I understand what you're saying, Lucy.
Something very rare and certainly special.

Anonymous said...

My fiftieth year had come and gone,

I sat, a solitary man,

In a crowded London shop,

An open book and empty cup

On the marble table-top.

While on the shop and street I gazed

My body of a sudden blazed;

And twenty minutes more or less

It seemed, so great my happiness,

That I was blessed and could bless.

--Yeats, of course

meggie said...

Your posts never disappoint. Always a refreshing pleasure.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

"My heart in hiding/ Stirred for a bird." Interesting that Hopkins had been brought up here independently from my thinking of that line!

Anyway, "Xanadu" might be poorer without the man from Porlock -- as clever STC knew. Disintegrating compositions can be the most intriguing.

leslee said...

Yes, exactly. That's all I wanted to say - at every point.

Lucy said...

Well yes, and it might well all have been Rose Tinted, Another glass, and I certainly would have been writing gibberish!
God bless men from Porlock who stop people wittering on.
Hopkins gets quite a lot of mentions on blogs, I notice.
Thanks visitors.

Fire Bird said...

Don't think I can take the credit...unless I'm having a prolonged senior moment here...

Lucy said...

NO! you DID say it! I'll look back and find it.

Fire Bird said...

I tell you, my memory is truly not what it was...

Lucy said...

Phew, found it! I looked and looked and was getting very worried that perhaps it was me getting that disease whose name I can't remember, something beginning with 'A'... Now I can relax in the knowledge that 'tis you old friend not I!
It was in a post back in early April about 'blogging ennui' ( sorry, I can't do links in comments) after something you'd read at via negativa, and you said 'I don't know where to focus, where to point the word camera, and sometimes don't know why to bring words here...' ( copied and pasted).
Thank heavens for that, thought I was going barmy!

Avus said...

"felt as if I was on the edge of something. I was dizzy with joy and wonder of the moment, one of those when everything seems complete and as it should be, and the surrounding sounds and air and light seem to form a harmonious whole."

Perfectly expressed - as a regular user of Transcendential Meditation (less frequently these days) I have only managed to reach that moment a few times.

Lucy said...

Thank you Avus, that's an insight.

Anonymous said...

Do you drop laudanum into that rosé of yours? ;-)

What are the chances of a Porlockian not arriving I wonder. Does the moment exist without them?

Lucy said...

Good questions rr ( except the one about the laudanum, anyone could tell you it wouldn't go with rose...)
If the Porlockian doesn't arrive in the flesh, I think they probably arrive in some other form.
Nice to see you here!