Birthdays, and other such markers (I realized while meditating by the Lamoille river this morning), are an opportunity for pooling together thoughts, those facing back across the memoried past and those facing forward to an open future, and gathering them into a spool of desiring-productive-energy to be set spinning outward. Not only one’s own thoughts, but those of others (such as those I felt* spilling over into my own at a certain moment at that riverside juncture).
Thoughts are the openings from which the future is crafted. Thoughts are not only mind-thoughts; they are body-thoughts, and the more of our bodies (those affective landscapes of motion, emotion, capacity, and orientation) we pack into those thoughts, the stronger they are. Our body has its thoughts, many of which we are not aware of; we are its thoughts as much as they are ours, perhaps more so.
In this sense, gathering one’s thoughts and sending them to seek resonance with similar thoughts circulating on that day, one shapes the momentum for the next series of steps, thoughts, days, years. But the gathering has always to be a patient, open, delicate practice, one that acknowledges the traps of thinking it is itself responsible for the shaping. There are always others around for that, and they need to be acknowledged too. That’s how we come to know them. Thank you to them all, you all.
* In Claiming Sacred Ground, I referred to this as “feeling/imagining,” fully acknowledging that it is a product of imagination, but going with that book’s argument that imagination and reality are not separate domains but an interactive dyad. Here’s the relevant section, which refers to things experienced while doing what my ethnographic “subjects” did at the places I wrote about (Glastonbury and Sedona):
To speak about these things adequately, I feel a need to slash together words like “felt” and “imagined,” or “heard” and “imagined.” I use the word “imagine” not in the customary sense of something which takes place exclusively “in one’s head,” but, rather, in the depth-psychological sense related to the “imaginal faculty”—the capacity to form images, inclusive of sounds, movements, bodily sensations, and so on, within one’s field of awareness. The images I could “see” (in my mind’s eye), voices I could “hear,” presences I could “feel,” and so on, were just as real to me as the images in a dream—and I, like many people, do on occasion have dreams that are more vivid, colourful, three-dimensional, and emotionally involving than much of everyday waking experience.
Dreams, of course, are not equivalent to the waking experience of “consensus reality” (Tart 1975a); but they are, phenomenologically speaking, real experiences, whose reality is simply of a different order and consistency than the other kind(s). As subjectively real experiences, they are capable of being woven into the fabric of interpreted reality, a reality which is also always intersubjective. The voices and presences seen, heard, felt or imagined in this way at particular places do not necessarily belong to those places per se; nor, however, do they emerge purely within the skin-encapsulated reality of one’s head. Rather, they arise in and through the interaction between physical body, memory and expectation, the spatial and temporal features of a place or landscape, and the social lore, narratives and discourses which circulate between all of the above.
Of course, in a world where thoughts (and bodies) are shaped as much by manufactured images, mass-produced hallucinations, as they are by individually and selectively created ones, it becomes important to understand how we move with, or against, those technological images. Which is why I’ve moved on to that topic in my research.
Now that Ecologies of the Moving Image is finished (and on track for spring-summer 2013 publication), I have come back to the task of crafting the onto-epistemology that connects the two projects.