THE STILL IMAGE


P h o t o g r a p h y  by  R e g  G o o d

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There’s an article in Scientific American that describes what some call the dark energy of the brain. The 10 % of the brain that is conscious thought uses only a small portion of the electrical energy used by the brain. The dark space of 90% of the brain uses most of the brain electricity. Especially when we are at rest, interestingly enough according to  the most recent research.

The researcher writing the article  about the brain's dark energy suggests that the energy in the dark space is used to talk among the different parts of the brain. That dark space of the brain that is the busiest when we sleep, works out all kinds of things quite unknown to us, appearing to us as dreams and intuition. One of my guiding lights, James Hillman, writes about our outer world being the shade for the inner world. We are born within this dark space in us, that of our dark brain, psychic self, soul for Hillman, a pagan by choice, darkness which reveals itself and expiates itself over the course of our lives.

On CBC, I heard an interview with Juliette Binoche, actress of note, whose sister has made a documentary of Juliette’s various artistic endeavours. Juliette mentioned feeling guilty for her success (money, fame). The interviewer, commenting on how hard she had worked so hard and driven herself, pointed to an irony in her answer that she has worked so hard for her success and then feels guilty when successful. Binoche corrected him. “I didn’t work hard for success.” her comment floored the interviewer. And me. She helped me understand what my friend Hans has been telling me over the years. Binoche went on to explain that she worked hard on her art for what it revealed. Working on a film was a way for her to discover herself. The work she does might be popular or might not. That result is insignificant. Popularity is not what the work is about. Thank you, Juliette and Hans.

Yes. I can be so caught up in needing affirmation just to feel legitimate in this consumer, material, status loving, success-driven culture where the winner has all the accolades and attention. I get hooked by  my insecurity to think that the attention of others is my validation. This culture sells us on the reward of popularity, money, recognition, material accumulation and status. I try to believe this is delusion  and I feel I should be happy doing what I am drawn to even if amounting to noting tangible. That it's enough to spend one's time on something simply because one is drawn to it and for no other expectation. My radio show WorldSpirit didn’t have to be applauded or recognized, I try to convince myself. It was work I wanted to do, needed to do, loved doing, that guided me through a profound life decision. WorldSpirit didn’t give me a pension or independence, acclaim or a career, but it fed my journey. And I see that more, rightly or wrongly. I was in the Humber College photography studio Tuesday night for my Portrait II course. Some of the day students’ work was on display in the hall. Looking at it I thought, well, here is polished work and they don’t have as good a lens as I do. What am I doing with this camera and these lenses? How can I justify them? Who do I think I am? And I felt guilty and foolish.

In the dark nights, when pain has been acute, my work and hope frustrated, I would reach out from my bed, take my camera, hold it, feel it in my hands, take strength and comfort from it, my physical anchor in the storm of thoughts arising from the dark space.

In fact, why I have a camera, why I cling to it, can only, too, come from that dark space. The camera is a gift of my dark space, a light that gives me hope. I have to accept that. Not feel it undeserved. It is not about the outer world, about how I compare with the Humber students or others. It happens to be the instrument for my soul work, unaccountable to me. I have been given the camera to make something of it. Love it back. I am learning what it is to be free.

Psychologist James Hillman writes beautifully of the inner working of the dark space of the brain, soul in his words. He describes the dark activity as gods in us, working away. How am I to say what all the busy unknowable work deep in that dark space, all the calculating electrical activity in my unconscious is all about? I’ve ended up with a goddam, money-sucking camera that appears, it seems, from some unexplained desire rising from the dark space. Let’s not make too much of this. Simply, I, this biological self, am acting out in this world for a little while. Frivolity perhaps.To laugh, to dance, to cry, to be. Living from out of that dark space in my brain, the 90% of my brain inaccessible to me, accepting its unworldly work, delighting in it, where I am free. Trust the darkness I have come to believe...with respect, kneel before it. It alone, not all my machinations, is what is.


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