Another World, But Here

Paul Éluard, surrealist and poet, famously said, “There is another world, but it is in this one.” While culling through the Slow Muse archive, I also found the two quotes below from nature writer Ellen Meloy that weave into Éluard’s thread. Some of these are perennial themes: What it means to feel a sense of home, of being a part of something larger than one’s self; our sensory intelligence, and how it can be enhanced (or numbed); our relationship with earth, others and ourselves; the proximity to the ineffable and mysterious alongside our practical every day existence.

Earth, atmosphere, landscape, materiality—that is the domain that has been the primary source for my work. It is also a profound metaphor for belonging. Certain places speak to each of us personally, and the nature of that connection is outside of reason or language. It is, for me, just as Éluard has said—another world that exists within this one. And, as Meloy warns, “a failure of attention will make orphans of us all.”

Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home—not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away. How you can fall in love with the light.

For a homebody surrounded by the familiar or a traveler exploring the strange, there can be no better guide to a place than the weight of its air, the behavior of its light, the shape of its water, the textures of rock and feather, leaf and fur, and the ways that humans bless, mark or obliterate them. Each of us possesses five fundamental, enthralling maps to the natural world: sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell. As we unravel the threads that bind us to nature, as denizens of data and artifice, amid crowds and clutter, we become miserly with these loyal and exquisite guides, we numb our sensory intelligence. This failure of attention will make orphans of us all.

A few geographies that have spoken to me:

Hampi, India

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Layton, Utah

Alice Springs, Australia

Spiral Jetty on the Great Salt Lake, Utah

Small Point, Maine

5 Replies to “Another World, But Here”

  1. Thanks for this wonderful reminder. I feel this way about New England. Every time I come back after being away, I can hear the devas singing me home. I do resonate with the land, some areas more than others.

    “Each of us possesses five fundamental, enthralling maps to the natural world: sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell”–might I add also the sixth sense? The spacious, instinctual experience of the supra natural, when one lets go of all habitual conceptions and we see with our other eyes, hear with our other ears, and smell with our other nose. I just experienced this on the Concord River a few days ago. I went to a whole other world, yet felt this one resonate profoundly deeper.

    Your photos echo the landscape of your canvases, which fascinate me. Thanks for sharing the images that inspire you. As we enter the Autumn Equinox, the connection to the earth and her blessings feels strong.

  2. ha! – virtually the story of my life, there! thank you.

  3. Very interesting texts – and wonderful images, thank you!

  4. Beautiful photographs and words. If I’m attentive, I pause in the presence of such places, and I might utter something, usually unintelligible, that alerts me to “another world that exists within this one.” Seems like my body knows before my brain.

  5. Absolutely gorgeous photos–that resonate with the spirit of place.

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