Beauty is momentary in the mind; the mind is momentary in beauty. Every beast that ever rode upon Plato’s back into the cave of shadows wondered what direction the fates foretold. Being of one’s hour, ripeness is the heart of wisdom. No fruit ever hung longer on the bough than time allowed or memory juxtaposed.
In time, these places call us—the sinews of kinship and honest bones, the doorways of insight and misgivings. In the galaxies of honor and the pendulum of infinities, we will find the echoes of longing and the promise of happiness, blowing like leaves against a broken sky and our own passageway to impermanence. Pax vobiscum or not vobiscum. What we cannot face, we must avoid—board up tightly with sins and regrets that beckon through long hallways and cramped spaces, offering small windows, locked doors, and the soul’s yearning to come home.
TSTmpj: Beauty? Would you care to share more thoughts?
Christina Murphy: I am mesmerized lately by the beauty that is revealed to us by physicists studying the nature of reality—especially those working on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland (the world’s most powerful particle accelerator) that is confirming many of the speculations of theorists on the unity of the cosmos. Everything is obviously more complex than ever envisioned and also greatly simple—and the truth is that most of what constitutes our world is not even visible. Even deeper is the fact that matter and energy are interchangeable in the sense that matter is essentially a type of "slowed down" energy that appears to be stationary and solid but is not. It is very hard to wrap one’s head around that idea as we are accustomed, naturally, to believing our three-dimensional world is as we experience it. And the idea that matter can become energy is, to me, fascinating. It is perhaps the most beautiful concept of Beauty as it provides a construct or center to our cosmos that is perpetually unfolding and creative—and in which no energy is ever lost, just re-created endlessly.
TSTmpj: As an artist and poet, how do you reconcile the transitory with the shadow in your writing, juxtaposed onto your life?
Christina Murphy: In my own life, "reconcile" might not be as appropriate an answer here as acceptance—largely because there are not other choices, at least not functionally. There are no battles to be won against the transitory nature of each life, but that also gives each moment of existence the potential for both action and appreciation. A number of artists have seen in art itself the capacity or power to transcend time—or the transitory—and perhaps that is one of the greatest gifts that art offers to each person. John Milton once said he hoped to write something so beautiful that the world would not willingly let it die, and then he wrote Paradise Lost, which certainly has withstood the test of time. I am certainly not comparing myself to Milton as a poet, but I do understand what he was saying in that every writer or artist hopes to craft something that is inherently capable of being timeless in the sense of reaching a number of readers over time and affecting their emotions as they experience and interpret the work in their own personal ways. Then again, too, I do believe—as a writer and as a person—that the imagination is one of the most powerful energies in the universe, and one that has the power to reveal to us great insights and truths that are necessary to our own self-realization and self-actualization.
TSTmpj: I imagine you may believe that the soul will in the end come "home". How near perennial do you see, or feel, is its odyssey? How close are we, do you believe, to falling through the shadows into the abyss?
Christina Murphy: In a sense, my answer to this question is based upon my answer to your question #1. I think we are in an era in which our sense of the cosmos is of a perpetually creative energy that infinitely recreates itself. That is not only beautiful to me, as I said above, but genuinely awe-inspiring and hopeful. Many metaphors by great poets have been used to describe this sense of the unity of existence. William Blake talks about seeing a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower; other writers have described the same idea by talking about an ocean of water in which it is only a "deception" of human reason to think that one drop of water is different from the whole because it can be separated out. Now quantum physicists confirm for us through science what Blake and other poets imagined. If what the physicists say is true (and there is more reason to believe it is true than not), then there is both a way in which we are always "home" and also always heading "home." And, too, there is no real "abyss" that we fall into or through because what we might think of as falling into an "abyss" is a form of transformation and not one of loss, or ending, or separation. That is not to minimize in any way or our sense of loss or sadness over our own awareness of mortality and the death that awaits us at some point in time, but it is to see impermanence in a broader context of a creative flow and a "timeless" moment. In that regard, I think this is what T.S. Eliot meant in saying "Time past and time future / What might have been and what has been / Point to one end, which is always present." Our understanding of past, present, and future are interpretations of experience—and so are illusory; whereas the "one end" that is "always present" is the experience itself—and so is inherently true and complete.
Christina Murphy admires how Piet Mondrian found such artistic integrity (and solace) in straight lines and simple (yet complex) forms.