The periphery and its contents

In the corner of my eyes
the world becomes fuzzy
fades away.
And yet I know
There you are.

Long time, no write.

Well, that isn’t exactly true. I’ve been writing in my diary more or less every morning over the past few months – a daily ritual, transfiguring the latest mountain weather, rambling morning thoughts, and fragments of dreams of night past into black marks on white paper. But, I haven’t written anything with the intention of putting it up on our website, for quite some time. I have, however, been involved in another writing of sorts – landscape writing. With poles in hand, skis on foot, Embla in front, and the white, seemingly endless snowscape below, we have been drawing lines all over the place.

On one of these excursions, not too long ago, we were slowly gliding through the birchen forest close by. As I was skiing, something in the back of my mind sprang forward, and moved it. While my gaze was focused straight ahead – busy making sure my skis continued to aim for the spaces between trees rather than into them – my attention was pulled to the very edges of my vision, to the periphery. I could see trees passing me by – there one, there another. To my surprise, I noticed that I was able to visually perceive the trees even after I seemed to have passed them by. Stranger yet, there was also a very short moment thereafter where their presence seemed to linger, before I glided on, leaving their extended selves behind.

I recommend anyone to try this out. It at least kept me entertained for quite some time. If you lack skis or a snowy landscape just take a walk instead, which I’m sure should work just as well. If you happen to be lucky enough to be living somewhere with minimal or no light pollution, you can even extend your peripheral adventures into the night – if it is a clear and moonless one. Look up and find a cluster of stars. Then shift your gaze slightly to the side. If you keep doing this for a while, you will come to an interesting revelation. I’m tempted to not let you in on what that might be, but in this case I will let the flow of the text take precedence over that particular gift of revelation. So, what you will find is that some weaker stars are not possible to observe when you look straight at them. They require that you shift your focus to the side of them in order for them to become visible. What a wonderful trick of the eyes’ anatomy! It makes me wonder if these optical phenomena could be gesturing towards some deeper metaphysical truths. Can some things not stand being stared at?

I’m not so sure, but in my experience, I seem to fail to grasp the nature of the most interesting things in life when I try too hard to pin them down. When I instead explore whatever is adjacent or providing the contours, a more tacit and intriguing form of knowledge of the very thing I was interested in, sometimes seems to emerge.

Can this fuzzy borderland of our vision perhaps be a gateway of sorts – a narrow crack in the construction of our sensory realities where the magic of immanence flickers into our day-to-day consciousness? That very real experience of something moving at the edges of your vision, but when you turn to look at it – poof, gone.

Something more tangible perhaps, is how our memory seems to work at times. Try as you may, sometimes you just can’t remember that name, that dream, that thing you were supposed to fetch from the living room and so on. But then, when you finally give up and start thinking about something else, or leave the living room, then suddenly – the name, dream, or image of the thing you were supposed to fetch comes flying out of somewhere. From the periphery of our memories perhaps.

What might this peripheral realm tell us about the world and how we live our lives in these late hours – with escalating climate change, mass-extinctions and so much natural beauty crushed under the advancing juggernaut of industrial civilization?

What it has offered me is a clue, a sense of possibilities yet unveiled or imagined. A hint, of sorts, that there may be forces and dimensions of our world unbeknownst to our minds of day, working their magic at the periphery of our senses. What might happen if we were to tune into this metaphysical space a bit more often and see where it leads us?

There have been times in my life where such an attunement has felt closer at hand. Times where I have been grabbed a hold of – enough to rattle my perception of reality, but also striking a chord of deeper remembrance, beyond what I may or may not have perceived. I fear I lack words able to convey such experiences without doing them some degree of harm, so I will leave this one hanging a bit.

Struggling with how to end this piece, I just read these last few paragraphs aloud to Ingrid. She was then reminded of writing in her diary about this very thing last year – about the challenge of reaching that paradoxical state of mind where one can observe without observing, sense beyond sensing:

[It] seems like a directive process, a result of your actions, deliberate (although you don’t fully understand it). Once you find yourself in this mode, and if you manage to lightly, carefully balance yourself there, without effort or too much thinking, there may be openings in which new thinking, knowings, can manifest themselves. However, if you look for them too closely, try to reach, grasp, grab, logically deduce your way to them, they will instantly dissolve. This is just an inkling and I’m wary of thinking too much about it. But just know there is a balance between a willful, directive mode, and a receptive, softly conscious mode and both are needed. [..] I think that’s enough for now. (Feb, 2018)

the Japanese poet exclaims.
I see, say I.
But not until later, do I know.


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