Monday, 17 February 2014

Fourfold: Space and Creativity,-2.410641&spn=0.024554,0.074759&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=33.764224,76.552734&hnear=River+Ribble&t=h&z=14
Lancashire, while boggy, has barely been afffected by the recent flooding and I'm grateful. One of my most favourite things in the world is to walk by a river in the direction of its flow. Walking yesterday I mentioned this to F, who being a philosopher cited Heidegger's concept of fourfold as a possible explanation.   

The drawing together of sky/earth/divinities/human to create a fullness of place chimed with my experience of the river. A river - in fact all bodies of water - has that extraordinary quality of reflecting the sky, being from the sky and being located on earth.

Maybe this is why we are so drawn to living close to rivers, as well as that sense of movement and the renewing qualities of a river, this deep union of nature and culture overrides any practical advice of not building near them.

And to step further along the flow of thought, I found this enchanting idea in an article on Heidegger's fourfold by Peter Critchley. It, on talking about fourfold in dwelling space, highlighted the sense of bounded space "not that which something stops but... that from which it begins its presenting" : the potential of a space that has been enclosed for a particular use is made more potent by its boundary. This definition of space is ours for the making. I'm thinking more more creatively and metaphorically than the Enclosures.

I'm thinking of how I use the boundary of a riverside: for writing - the flow I'm connected to; for contemplation - its light glancing off new thoughts; for talk - the sluicing an ideal punctuation; for celebration, even - being lifted by its movement: apparently shamen in Madagascar use rivers as entry routes to their sacred sites as part of a ceremony, which makes perfect sense to me. We already use walking down aisles as the entry point to a ritual, a river (when not in flood) is a more expansive aisle, more undulating, offering more time to consider what lies ahead.

Maybe this riverside walking is more integrated to the everyday than the idea of ceremony suggests. Maybe it's one of those quiet rites we perform on a regular basis, that leaves you changed from when you started, that elevates your sense of self in the world, that deposits a thought, an accompanying emotion, in you. Maybe I need more research.



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