Charlie Morrow: The Magnetic Still Point
[hors-serie iMMERSE! podcast]
Hello, I’m Charlie Morrow. Welcome to iMMERSE! & our conversations on immersivity. Today is a still point. One of those moments when time seems to have stopped.
I’ve been moving further & further north from my origins in New Jersey, US & art & business beginnings in New York City. As a 7 & 8 year-old, my summers in Maine began my north-o-tropia. In 1968, I visited Dick Higgins & Alison Knowles at their Something Else Press workshop & home in Barton, Vermont.
In the 70s, I bought property there & in the 80s built a sugar house, where maple sap is boiled to become maple syrup, in the 90s I built a Vermont home in the sugar woods, the local name for a forest of maple sugar trees.
On my first trip to Lapland in 1986, I had come the furthest north I’d ever been. It was late autumn with light snow. In the night light, as I drove north through Finland toward Kat Kat Keino, I appeared to drive past giant, very wide, dark trunked trees, separated by narrow passages of white light. I came to understand that these were tiny trees & wide expanses of tundra! Still points can be just like this, moments when life turns inside out.
There’s a ready connection to what some call vertical time. Time when the past & the present & the future are one. Music & sound, like words & images, open the mind to immersion & to time travel. Human communication starts with gestures & graphic images evolve into writing & printing, photography & sound recording, visual & sonic transmission.
Memory & imagination starts with capturing experience, evolves storing selected information & distilling information.
The phrase still point appears in T.S Eliot’s poem “Burnt Norton”: “At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement. & do not call it fixity, Where past & future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards.”
Medically speaking, the still point is a period of time when the movement of brain activity is not apparent. This temporary cessation of motion can last from a few seconds to a minute or two. It is thought that still points occur spontaneously as well as being able to be induced.
& then there is the vanishing point, which Wikipedia tells us is “The point at which parallel lines receding from an observer seem to converge. The point in linear perspective at which all imaginary lines of perspective converge. The point at which a thing disappears or ceases to exist.
Poet Armand Schwerer writes of an Aleut shaman’s statement to anthropologist Franz Boas: “When I do the ceremony just right & the setting sun light is just right I disappear.” Today is a still point. One of those moments when time seems to have stopped...
All iMMERSE! texts & transcripts available here: https://www.charliemorrow.com/immerse-podcast.html
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