Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Living in Liminality...

Descent into Lightness
   One is always becoming - we are always giving birth to ourselves but there are times when we feel it more profoundly, the crossing of the threshold.  These are our liminal moments.  The word liminal comes, as so many of our words do, from Latin -"limen" meant the starting place of a race, a beginning or a threshold.

   Contemplative photography gives us the opportunity to reflect on these moments through our images.  What I've discovered, over time, is that these moments are much more frequent than we imagine and they are not necessarily momentous moments either.  In fact, the vast majority of these threshold moments are seemingly inconsequential; so much so we hardly notice them at all.  We simply step from one way of being, one mode of thinking, into another subtly different one.  These slight shifts of consciousness, over time, transform us.

   As a contemplative photographer, I can sometimes record these liminal moments which really don't reveal their true nature to me until much later.  Hindsight is, after all, 20/20.  When we finally and fully resign ourselves to living in liminality the journey becomes more interesting and at the same time more mysterious.

   I've been dwelling on the photograph of the staircase at Rouen recently.  When I wrote the post of the metaphor of staircases I realized that I had described those stairs as an ascent into "simplicity and light". (read it here...)  I named my folio of Shaker images that eight months later.  The folio includes this image which I had labeled the "descent into lightness".

   This is one of those liminal moments for me.  Seeing the search for "light", with all its metaphorical connotations, as an underlying theme in my work.  Light may be a universal metaphor but what I've also discovered is that metaphors are intensely personal things.  What "light" means to you may not be what it means to me.  The meaning will come in time to each of  us but these images have certainly awakened a new sense of myself and a new avenue of reflection.  That is, in the final analysis, the real worth of pursuing contemplative photography for me  and why I have become such an advocate of it through this blog.

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