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In Velo

Thresholds are places of transition, typically imagined as places we pass through, like doorways, or, metaphorically, rites of passage, or tipping points, moments on the brinks of exceeding capacity. Yet they might be reimagined as places that inhere, the halls of the imaginal, the realm of angels! To navigate a threshold, then, is to recognise the condition of transition, translation and transgression that is at the heart of being. Passing, changing, metamorphosing, emerging not once but always from the chrysalis, I finally have to concede that I am a threshold, a thin place, a nowhere, a habitat as much as an inhabitant.

Adventure is germane to such being, thought in this way, because adventure demands not just exiting via a threshold, but taking up residence in that space of change, where dwelling is poiesis. It is not unreasonable to conceive of adventure one day in life, early or late, at dawn or at twilight, and to suddenly catch a sense of what it might be like, to be different, and to touch difference in the moving currents of air. Through threshold dwelling, and poietic enchantment, every untold story awakens.

Threshold, as thin as a place can be, yet key witness to arrivals and departures, as well as indecisions. Mimmo, the cat, knows the forcefield of the threshold; he feels its gripping power as he leaps across the doorway, as if bounding over a dangerous chasm. He desires the place beyond, the room inside, but the movement toward it demands a relinquishing of the world he inhabits now, and therefore, a giving up of self. This makes him nervous, and he is determined not to touch any part of of the doorway, and he will not look back until settled within, when the exterior once again becomes a world relative to the interior. It is the turbulence of tides meeting, cross currents, in the impossibility of a nowhere place, that certain cats take fright!

All adventures begin with a threshold, as a real place: a doorway, a gate, a road entry, a port, a crossing. But they also begin at an internal threshold, a place within where things are in a heightened state of turbulence. Heidegger writes of  "Poises" as a "bringing-forth": the blooming of a blossom, the transition of a cocoon into a butterfly, the melting of snow into the new flow of a waterfall. Bachelard's account of red reddening - in Earth and the Reveries of Repose - can also be taken as an account of a threshold moment, but one that implicates a movement in the beholder of redness. Red is an excursion into colour, not merely a given quality or a signal. For Heidegger, these are "threshold events", moments of ecstasis, when something becomes different.

Heidegger elucidates the full context of Poiesis, as a bringing forth, and of particular relevance to the adventure - that which emerges from itself, from the effort and will - is his inclusion of physis: "the arising of something from out of itself, is a bringing-forth, poiesisPhysis is indeed poiesis in the highest sense. For what presences by means of physis has the bursting open belonging to bringing-forth, e.g., the bursting of a blossom into bloom, in itself (en heautoi). In contrast, what is brought forth by the artisan or the artist, e.g., the silver chalice, has the bursting open belonging to bringingforth not in itself, but in another (en alloi), in the craftsman or artist.”

[from ‘The Question Concerning Technology’, p. 10]

Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Torrance Kelly write of Poises as a reconciling of our bodies, through Techne - art -  in a sacred alliance with the uniqueness of matter that it encounters, and with which it enters an alliance of care in the world. (All things Shining, 2011, p.209). This, I believe is an essential caveat to take into the landscape of adventure: a mutual responsibility between wayfarer, and way

Yet adventures, what are they until they are told, recounted, relived, remade through the account. Adventures are to be had and had again: How did we get here? Don Quixote would agree, though Quixote's threshold was the difference between the outside world and the in, and as such, the two were always mingling. Is it ever other than this? Is it ever not a joining of these realms? Quixote is the very image of generosity, for he gave what he, himself, had not. 

I say "My Adventure" as if it were a a thing waiting to reveal itself. In a way, this is precisely what it is, but every nuance, every turn and every reflection, feeds back into the adventure, hence Aletheia - an opening for Truth to be revealed - and Poiesis - the act of opening, in a co-authored communion with the world. My adventure does not yet exist, but the idea of it does, the desire, the anticipation, the sudden realisation that it has begun, that it is the nervous quivering in my belly, the sharp gleam on the new bicycle, the maps spread across table tops, the irresistible feeling of the future, restrained into the presence, and already exciting the senses. I have already begun to perceive the distortions of my own expectations, and their warping and indifference excite the senses anew. 

In sixth decade of my life, I alert myself to a new brilliance... 

In Velo

Sharon JewellComment