Thoughts restless as Scottish weather (Cryptic-Cove Park Residency)


The sun blows in on gusts of wind,
followed by the rain.
A different weather in every window.

I can’t see the far shore for the fog
and then I can.
Where does all that fog go?


Thinking around ideas.
Trying not to spook the all-elusive creative moment.
Hoping to catch answers by stealth,
by sneaking up on them from a different direction,
defocusing the eyes,
glimpsing shadows from slitted corners.

Like Perseus I use a mirror
to look at something of which I am afraid.
A mirror is not a left-right reversal,
but one of in and out—
a forwards direction
bounced backwards.
My image enters the mirror
and is rejected.

I think my image is rejected/reflected
at the same size as it is,
but in fact it has been diminished.
I am only half of what I am.
Try it.
Measure it.
Your essence has been reduced
in the translation.
Some people think the soul is kept in a mirror—
is my soul half my size?

All the while I should be listening—
listening speculatively to what I want to hear.
Up until now I’ve been listening to the source
and it’s too pragmatic and full of words.
I need to be listening for the echoes.

Echoes are hard to find out here
I need a room at least 17metres long
to slap me back a sound
beyond my mind’s memory
so I hear it anew.
I had high-hopes for the toolshed
but it serves it purpose as named.

So I play with my digital emulations
my favourite filters and manipulations.
How much can a voice be reflected,
artificially laid over and pleated, folded,
until it becomes a song it didn’t know it sang.

In an attempt find the sound of the work
I get Echo to start the conversation.
But she’s all chokes and stops and stutters.
So I try to summon the mourning songs of
wood and water nymphs,
by baying at the shadowed full moon.
But so far their tunes are lost on the wind,
or drowned out by my mind’s hungry chatter.

My mind grazing greedily on Malouf and
Montaigne and Merleau-Ponty.
(Next week we move on to ‘N’s.)
And it’s Maurice who tells me to keep it real:

“When I begin to reflect my reflection bears upon an unreflective experience; moreover my reflection cannot be unaware of itself as an event, and so it appears to itself in the light of a truly creative act, of a changed structure of consciousness, and yet it has to recognize, as having priority over its own operations, the world which is given to the subject because the subject is given to himself.”[1]

When I look a little baffled and scratch my head, he continues, in an urgent whisper:

“Reflection does not withdraw from the world towards the unity of consciousness as the world’s basis; it steps back to watch the forms of transcendence fly up like sparks from a fire; it slackens the intentional threads which attach us to the world and thus brings them to our notice; it alone is consciousness of the world because it reveals that world as strange and paradoxical. [2]

As I reflect on that,
hoping for the light of that truly creative act,
watching for the sparks of transcendence
to shine through the fog and rain,
I notice that in the night,
on the opposite mountain
that watches over Ardentinny,
has fallen a fine dusting of early spring snow.

[1] Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception, (London, New York: Routledge, 2005), xi

[2] ibid, xv

My participation in the Cryptic-Cove Park residency program is supported by The SUBSTATION.



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