Sunday, 10 October 2010

On the Threshold

"Liminal" is one of my favourite words. It derives from the Latin word for a threshold, and its cultural richness is well conveyed by this Wikipedia compendium. I have found that I am most fully at home in liminal states and situations, and love that state of suspended difference -- ignoring distinctions of age, status, and gender -- that is the natural condition of a temporary group enterprise, such as a journey or, indeed, a photographic workshop.

When I was about 12, my stated aspiration was to be a tour guide on coach holidays to Austria, which made my teachers smile. Well, at least it gave the boy a reason to study German. But I had a genuine if slightly absurd attraction to that role, which might be seen as a permanent facilitator attached to a series of liminal groups, shuttling between different realities. Tarkovsky's Stalker but with comfy seats and air-conditioning.

I love the transitional seasons autumn and to a lesser extent spring, But I've posted about that before (As the Sparks Fly Up) . They are shape-shifting times when boundaries are thin and transparent, and light can shine through to imprint shifting shades of the future and the past onto the fading present.

Here are a few liminal pictures from this week's haul.

1 comment:

Gavin McL said...

Well I liked the post and the pictures - I've taken some like this the shadows of trees - not so nicely exposed though.
I clicked through to the post on autumn as all this talk of thresholds reminded me of the old tale that Halloween was a time when the gap between this world and whatever lay beyond was thin and you could move between the worlds and things could move the other way. I do have to take exception with the idea that Halloween is imported, up North beyond the border in 70's Scotland Halloween was a big thing - not the scream masked pumpkin thing bought from Tesco that passes for it now, but a real homegrown "happening" for want of better word. Lanterns were made from Turnips or Neeps (what in England is called a Swede and in the States a Rutabaga) which is hard work but the roots and mishapes often found on a Turnip can be incorporated into the grotesque face. There was no trick or treats but Guizing where you went about the houses with your lantern (to protect you from the ghosts that might have crossed the limen) and did a skit or sang a song for money or a sweet. We'd heard about trick or treat from american tv but nobody had the guts to play tricks on our neighbours.
We had parties as well with ducking for apples (dooking) and scones covered in treacle hanging strings which you had to eat with your hands behind your back.
When I moved south in 78 I was sorely disappointed to find that nothing much happened on the 31st.
But Guy Fawkes was a much bigger thing so some compensation