*The letter Nūn in Arabic has the meaning of a whale or a great fish. In Hebrew, in Aramaic and Phoenician the letter Nūn is also related to a fish or a snake. And the letter as it is inscribed hides much more within it, like 'a sign of the times'. The letter Nūn is composed of an underlying half-circle with a point as its center. It is that “ark” in which the point, which could be seen as the divine spark (or logos), hides... Meanwhile the monstrous fish is the perfect image of the limit, the place where categories fall apart through a hybridization which is the death of identity and particulars. For muslims the Islamic Crescent is a waning crescent, it is the last moon, the last sliver and also the “seal”, and the seal is the last thing. It is what finishes, what closes up, what completely “fixes” the logos. (from an article by Jonathan Pageau)
** Attempts to write poetry about things that draw my attention such as the global situation have completely evaded me recently. They present and then form like a splutter of opinion. So to begin again... in writing about the thing that occupies and fears me. And in exploring I discover is in itself a climate change. The place of relationship.
Here I am, struck again and again by the beauty and creativity of life and friendships. But also how the frontier of intimacy and that primal urge of partnership can often lead us into some of the most beautiful and the loneliest corners of experience. And the irony that the answer is not satisfied by the icon that draws it... In bearing faithful witness somehow to how we are impacted by the landscapes of our relating is to learn love. To be transformed by such a love ourselves is the symbol of the holy child in this poem.
Like all artists taking refuge in their tools to try and shine light into these corners, so it is with the pen. One of my great inspirations, contemporary mystic Etty Hillesum who was a Dutch Jew writing during WW2, described walking the barbed edges of the Westerbork concentration camp and how the action of her pen was like taking up a tool, a hammer, and so in crafting words around the despair of a nation she was banging holes that penetrated through the grey prison walls...
This attempt is abstract, but hopefully touching and resonant because its closely linked to the geography and conversations and griefs I have borne witness to in myself and others over this past years of the pandemic. I feel we are navigating (to use a jaded term perhaps) something unprecedented in the world of relating. A need to find, or perhaps re-find, a language... Perhaps something along these lines is part of shaping some of its words.
Image: Francesca Woodman 1978 - from the Eel Series