Sunday, 31 August 2008

interstitiality as a word to enliven our world

A voice on the radio shot a word into my sleepy brain this morning. It was interstitiality.

I had set my alarm to 'snooze' so I could slide back into that delicious half-awake state that begins the day. Suddenly I was focused, because the words coming from the speaker were so beautiful. Margaret Coffey, on the ABC program Encounter was interviewing a Catholic priest, a yogi and a Tibetan Buddhist monk who have set up an interfaith community in Melbourne.

I had a vague idea that the word interstice means the spaces in between atoms. So what did that have to do with spirituality? Swami Samnyasanand, who comes from a Himalayan yoga tradition, explained that the three men regard themselves as representing an interstitial zone in the spiritual life of our community - a meeting place. Water meets land, or day meets night. Dawn. Sunset. Beach. River bank.

These have been the subject of poetry and storytelling from ancient times. Powerful images.

The Swami spoke about the beauty of the sea at sunrise and sunrise and described the way you can sit there in silence to experience the moment where time and place intersect. I think we've all had experiences where we become sparklingly aware of the life of the world around us. It adds an extra dimension for me to be able to put a name to this kind of moment.

I had encountered the word before today, but now I know it in a different way. I think it will stay with me.


Lynn said...

I'm sorry I missed that program, may see if it is available on the web. My head has been filled with poetry since I went to a poetry reading at the Melbourne Writers Festival yesterday. Something about the reading penentrated beneath the logical layers to something much deeper.

parlance said...

Poetry. Sometimes I think that is the ultimate challenge for the writer. To shape a thought so sharply it spears into the listener's brain or heart - and I love your comment that it isn't always mediated by the logical aspect of our thinking.

Mark Lawrence said...

Aha! You have a new blog! How exciting to see. And on language and writing too – doubly exciting.

How marvelous the coincidence between your exploration of 'interstitiality' and my preoccupied reflections on margins and peripheries today – inspired by the news that scientists had succeeded in helping Saharan communities to green/reforest the edges of the desert.

There is a great fertility – and I would say creativity – in the margins/ edges, of things - usually the meeting/overlapping place between various spaces.

It is also an important concept in permaculture design.

I wonder how true this is of genres.

Hmm. I'm thinking aloud again. I should write this down somewhere. Exciting.

parlance said...

Mark, that's an interesting article. I was surprised, though, that they didn't have a photo of the greener landscape with trees.

I agree with you about the margins and peripheries. In some ways I think I prefer the places where people and philosophies intersect - perhaps that why I have such trouble taking a strong view on issues - I can always see that there's another viewpoint lurking at my shoulder.

I had never heard of Tumblr - it's an great addition to your already interesting blog.

Mark Lawrence said...

I think the creativity and fertility is particularly exciting in the intersections of genres – which is probably why I like creative non-fiction.

Drawing on the styles, character development, dialogue, scene development, description etc so practiced in fiction, creative non-fiction writers can make their stories and the people in them (who are not just characters) come alive. And hopefully let the readers edge closer to the subject matter.

And this is just one, obvious example.

And I think that blogging can harvest these edges and margins pretty well too.

parlance said...

Mark, I agree. Blogging is evolving as a genre and it's going to be interesting seeing what happens.