journey from the surface of the earth (the idea of light and love) / a solstice celebration

domenico de clario + raka supriatna

from 6.59pm (twilight) june 21 2023 to 12.57am (solstice) june 22 /2023  sky garden shed irymple

Each year the night between June 21 and June 22 marks both the end of increasing darkness and, until the summer solstice moment unfolding on December 21, the beginning of increasing light.

In his ‘Idea of Prose’ the Italian writer and philosopher Giorgio Agamben proposed the following as constituting the most worthwhile of explorations:

‘Our explorations will encompass the microscopic to macro as we move from the surface of our skin, to the latitude of our backyards and beyond. Our task as explorers is to negotiate and illuminate what is around us, to seek out what lies unnoticed or hidden form view, and to discover new vistas, terrains and ways of experiencing them.’

The various dynamics that bind micro to macro and visible to invisible continue to engage my interest in unexpectedly compelling ways.

After much consideration of the animating idea of Agamben’s dictum, that is to journey to the surface of the earth in order to be able to more closely observe its micro-nature, I have wondered whether it would be possible to embark upon a return journey.

In brief, I have wondered whether travelling away from the surface of the earth might in the end return us to the inward journey’s original beginning point. But where might that be?

The principal proposition of Agamben’s book is whether seemingly simple notions might be understood more fully through a discussion of what might not constitute the central core of each idea.

Paradoxically this typically elegant Agambian strategy seems to lead the reader every time to each notion’s very centre.

The following two brief texts from ‘The Idea of Prose’ seem to me to cogently address the dynamics between micro / macro and visible / invisible that I referred to above.

The Idea of Light

I turn on the light in a dark room; naturally the lit room is no longer the dark room; I have lost it forever. Yet isn’t it the same room? Isn’t the dark room the only content of the lit room?  That which I can no longer have, that which infinitely flees backward, and likewise thrusts me forward is only a representation of language: the dark which light presupposes.  But if I give up the attempt to grasp this pre-supposition, if I turn my attention to the light itself, if I receive it – what the light gives me is then the same room, the non-hypothetical dark.  That which is veiled, that which is closed within itself is the only content of the revelation – light is only the coming to itself of the dark.

The Idea of Love

To live in intimacy with a stranger, not in order to draw him closer, or to make him known, but rather to keep him strange, remote: unapparent – so unapparent that his name contains him entirely. And, even in discomfort, to be nothing else, day after day, than the ever-open place, the un-waning light in which that one being, that thing, remains forever exposed and sealed off.

Perhaps as you sit or stand in the shed or walk around Irymple’s Sky Garden on a mid-winter’s Wednesday night you might reflect on these texts.

Perhaps as you undertake in your mind the outward journey from the surface of the earth to that of the moon its increasingly intensifying light might offer some transparency to your considerations. It may even illuminate in part the dynamics that animate the relationship between what is visible immediately around you and the invisible energies swirling in and outside you.

As you consider all this you might be encouraged to contemplate the dynamic connecting the micro-world inside the Sky Garden and the macro-world unfolding around it, extending firstly to Mildura then through the continent, then around the globe and eventually far, far further into our galaxy and beyond.

And later on in the evening, as you move through the space you occupy within the garden and back towards your parked car, you may hear the sound of piano keys being touched or the breathing of a saxophone, or endless other sounds…

But there is no pianist, nor a saxophonist, there is only sound; piano keys being touched, a saxophone being blown or various other sounds being made manifest.

Perhaps as you walk through the Sky Garden you might hear leaves rustling, birds nesting and moonlight intimately penetrating each and every thing, forever exposed yet sealed off. Even the sound of one’s own footseps, as one moves through the garden, cannot in a sense be attributed to the origin of their making, but simply exist in and of themselves.

The sitter touching the keys or the saxophonist could be any one of us; each of us is capable of transmuting the seeming silence of the inaudible world into its audible manifestation.

All that is required to facilitate this transmutation is an abandonment of the idea that the phenomenological world consists simply of visible form when it is in fact an illusory, momentary manifestation of invisible content.

Inside this multi-dimensional space (light is only the coming to itself in the dark) the opportunity exists for each of us, especially on the longest night of the year, to mindfully journey from the surface of the earth to the surface of the moon and then return intact; ready to begin embracing the beginning of increasing light.

But then again that is only a temporary illusion for in the southern hemisphere increasing light comes to its own finality on December 21, on the summer solstice. Instantly the return journey begins via increasing darkness and so the cycle continues on and on…

Thank you for your presence and your attention; may you journey well from the space you usually inhabit to perhaps a newly manifested one.

domenico de clario
June 21 2023

Thank you Arts Mildura, Ross Lake and Helen Vivian for the support of this project.

Featured Image “Broken Egg Sunset” used with the permission of Menindee Photographic artist, Michael Minns