Chris Reynolds breathes into the art of our imaginal fathers like a pilgrim whose hand turns an ancient prayer wheel so that its blessing may touch all of us. He presents a family of images that play off one another on this particular Father’s Day, when we can no longer think our way out of the chaos around and inside us.
So much of what happens is not as we would wish. To bear the unbearable we enter a trance. We allow ourselves to be leaden and led, because, as Daniel Deardorff has reminded us we will never learn the truth from fact-finding commissions, because the truth is not in the facts.
Robert Bly puts it this way:
The hermit said: “Because the world is mad,
The only way through the world is to learn
The arts and double the madness.” Are you listening?
Sometimes we must take ourselves to a place where there need be no attempt to understand. Where images wash over us. “Real Words, Real Men” is that kind of a mad attempt; a catalog of voices shaped by the Minnesota Men’s Conference. – mg
Here is a story in song honoring the father on Father’s Day, born up from a harsh, yet enduring lesson, in childhood, adulthood, then at the edge of this life and the next, I offer an image of guidance into and through the world.
There is a braided cord of inner strength in us where human father, underworld dream father and heavenly father all blend. From within this experience, all who dare it, can say: “I and the father are one.” – cr
Wisdom of the Vessel — Chris Reynolds
Finding the Father
My friend, this body offers to carry us for nothing–
as the ocean carries logs. So on some days the body wails
with its great energy; it smashes up the boulders,
lifting small crabs, that flow around the sides.
Someone knocks on the door. We do not have time to dress.
He wants us to go with him through the blowing and rainy streets,
to the dark house.
We will go there, the body says, and there find the father
whom we have never met, who wandered out in a snowstorm
the night we were born, and who then lost his memory,
and has lived since longing for his child, whom he saw only once…
while he worked as a shoemaker, as a cattle herder in Australia,
as a restaurant cook who painted at night.
When you light the lamp you will see him. He sits there behind the door…
the eyebrows so heavy, the forehead so light…
lonely in his whole body, waiting for you.
— Robert Bly
The image of Father stands like a mountain, shrouded in thunder,
on the landscape of the human heart. – Daniel Deardorff
Wassily Kandinsky, Improvisation #9, 1910 (public domain)
“… lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting… ask yourself whether
the work has enabled you to “walk about” into a hitherto unknown world.”
— Wassily Kandinsky
Picture with a White Border, Wassily Kandinsky, 1913 (public domain)
Our minds, which are even now only just awakening after
years of materialism, are infected with the despair of unbelief,
of lack of purpose and ideal. The nightmare of materialism, which
has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game,
is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip.
Only a feeble light glimmers like a tiny star in a vast gulf of
darkness. This feeble light is but a presentiment, and the soul,
when it sees it, trembles in doubt whether the light is not a
dream, and the gulf of darkness reality.
— Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky’s Impressions are Urrealist works and are best understood that way. They all indicate an absent other, as well as the relationship between them. It follows, then, that Kandinsky has left doorways that still invite us to hear the Ur-language of the conversation, the Urreality in which he lived best. All we must do is place the Impressions side by side with their inspirations and allow ourselves to receive and respond. — Chris Reynolds
With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach
We would climb the highest dune,
from there to gaze and come down:
the ocean was performing;
we contributed our climb.
Waves leapfrogged and came
straight out of the storm.
What should our gaze mean?
Kit waited for me to decide.
Standing on such a hill,
what would you tell your child?
That was an absolute vista.
Those waves raced far, and cold.
“How far could you swim, Daddy,
in such a storm?”
“As far as was needed,” I said,
and as I talked, I swam.
— William Stafford
NOTE: This offering appearing thoroughly disjunct, is best thought of as an anthology in brief. The theme of Father’s Day outstripped by the madness of June, 2016 merges into what becomes an unresolved “felt sense.” By listening repeatedly to Chris’ song, going back to the poetry or Arnold Schoenberg’s music paired with Kandinsky’s Improvisations, one’s interior furniture is rearranged.
The nested doll is a reference to the layers of context and support necessary to healthy development; family, village, culture, place, ancestral oversight, cultivation of meaning, and so forth as explained by Chris in the Vimeo clip below. We must trust Chris when he says, “All we must do is place the Impressions side by side with their inspirations and allow ourselves to receive and respond.” No telling how others are coping with doubled madness. Some Assembly Required. – mg
The Other Father, Daniel Deardorff
Finding The Father, Robert Bly
Arnold Schoenberg and Wassily Kandinsky
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