Land and Sea



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STATE - What is it: solid, liquid, or gas? Or something in between?


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Change - Becoming - The Sea - Shaking Up - Absolutes


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Life                           -                      Death
Solid                         -                      Liquid
Stability                    -                      Plasticity
Certain                      -                      Uncertain
Permanence              -                      Change
Rigid                         -                      Flexible
Cohesive                   -                      Random
Fundamentalism        -                      Relativism
Order                         -                      Chaos


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Change is in the nature of all things. Like the Sea, nothing stands still. It is speculated that all life began in the sea; and without water there would be no life. The land stands as a counterpoint to the sea. Nothing is permanent. All of our structures are castles made of sand, destined to one day be washed away. Everything is forever becoming, but nothing ever truly is.

To get from one state to another you must be prepared to sail the turbulent seas; to abandon your structures, say goodbye to the land beneath your feet, and journey to somewhere new. From certainty to uncertainty; known to unknown.

The Sea is a fertile place. It is the place from which new structures emerge, and into which old structures fall. It is the negative space between our structures. It eludes definition, and cannot be pinned down. It is a place from which alternatives emerge; where other things can be tried out.

1. Solid and Liquid

Every thing is composed of other things. Imposing order is like telling a story, weaving together separate elements to create something new. Order is, then, synonymous with fusion; and whenever we make connections between things we are creating order. The stronger the connections the more solid the totality.

I use the image of Land to represent this idea of order and solidity. If we want to build structures then we need Land - solid ground - to build upon. Our structures act as bulwarks against the uncertainty and chaos of the outside world, sheltering us from the elements, and providing safety, security and familiarity. They are sanctuaries in which we can express ourselves - our view of things - without fear of rebuke. They are predictable places, where things are arranged just as we like them. Each structure is a little ordered world, with its own set of rules, preferences and meanings; its own culture.

For a structure to feel safe, it must be well built. Each element - from the foundations up to the roof - must be put in place with a crucial amount of care and attention, by trustworthy builders. Faulty foundations can cause paranoia and insecurity, a constant worry that at any moment our structure could crumble to the ground. They necessitate an inwards looking mentality, a pathological need to support, defend and maintain. Every blow becomes potentially life-threatening. Firm foundations, on the other hand, allow us to look - and venture - outwards, safe in the knowledge that our structure will remain standing, in spite of our lack of vigilance. A strong, resilient structure allows the odd blow to be absorbed here and there.

We may be so afraid of the outside world that we become reluctant to travel beyond the familiarity of our own four walls; at which point our little world becomes the whole world, and we see everything through its prism. Our vision becomes monocular, and all meanings are conflated with our own. If red is our colour, then all we see is red.

Entering someone else's structure can be like a trip to a foreign land, a place of strange sounds, smells and tastes. When the 'otherness' of foreign structures becomes threatening, then our santuary may become a castle, a fortified position from which we go to war. With its reinforced walls and elaborate defences, a castle is the zenith of solidity: its purpose is to endure; to keep the inside in, and the outside out.

To prevent an embattled mindset, lines of communication must stay open. We must allow an opening in our defences - an entry and exit point - through which we give and receive messages. Dialogue is an invisible thread that connects us to the outside world, allowing a mutual exchange of influence. It stops us from taking our little world too seriously, by reminding us of its relativity.   

Our sanctuary can also become a prison: comforting familiarity can slide into dull habituation. Sometimes things need to be shaken up, constricting bonds loosened.

The Sea stands as a counterpoint to Land. A return to the Sea means a breaking apart of what was held together. Looser bonds allow more movement, and so as things come apart they become more fluid and flexible, and less solid. Water is formless and adaptable, assuming the shape of whatever vessel it is placed within. It is an antidote to the fundamentalism of solid matter.

However, we cannot build upon, or with, water. It is indecisive, enamoured with novelty - here, then there; this, then that - and so cannot be relied upon. In this sense, solid matter stands as an antidote to the relativism of liquidity.


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"stuck in your ways," "firmly rooted"


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Main posts:-
All is Change
Status Quo
Escaping Uncertainty
Solid Ground
Everything and Nothing