Monday, February 11, 2008

The Nuanced Language of Image

This time last year I was engaged in a project I called the Pomegranate Exercise. I had begun finding hollowed out pomegranates on my walks in Ojai and the image of the empty fruit spoke to my imagination. I was (and am) working on a novel about an underground group of older women. The pomegranate, its lush innards gone, skin dried dark and leathery put me in mind of the Crone. After meditating on the fruits and on all the friends who were in various sorts of life transitions, I invited women I know to engage in a meditation on the topic of age, creativity, the pomegranate itself, whatever came up. I mailed the pomegranate shells to about twenty women friends and friends of friends who responded and asked them to create art about or with fruit. The resulting art and witness writing can be viewed on my website (click on collaborative projects).
Last year the pomegranate shells were few and far between, the scarcity contributed to my sense of their preciousness. My own intention was to feel less isolated as I engaged in my fiction writing as my primary form of expression during the winter months. I also sought to experiment with collaboration, a skill I would like to learn more about. Sallie Wolf, one of the artists, agreed to host a show of the actual objects in her studio and I committed to create an exhibit on my website. All of this transpired and was very fulfilling.

This season, the pomegranates appear very differently, many remain on the trees, eaten, but not as thoroughly eviscerated as last year. I suspect weather conditions made the fruit more abundant so the birds and animals didn’t have to do such a thorough job of cleaning them out. My association this year is that the fruits look like exploded grenades. (In Hebrew, the word ‘rimon’ is both pomegranate and grenade). I am offered an opportunity to consider that destruction is aspect of creation. Death, endings, finishing something -- all these are necessary for anything new to manifest. I have some resistance to this. There is some grief scratching at my door, just outside of my consciousness and I have been staying a little too busy to answer the door. Until I greet that guest I know that something else that is waiting cannot arrive. What’s keeping me? Do I need a suicide bomber to enter my space? What would such a being look like? The storms of the winter attempt to instruct me, tear off the roof, flood the living room, burn down the storage shed. But do I?
It is something to do with just being, not doing, withstanding the winds of chaos, the explosions of things breaking down, with my eyes wide open and my heart wide open and my feet planted firmly on the earth. And this, strangely, feels like death.