Picturing the Dark - our relationships with Space
Updated: Mar 21
This is the first sentence of "The Books of Magra: Hax-Sus."
It holds a number of potent ideas in its imagery: the nature and depth of sound, the compelling draw of the unknown, the call towards exploration and the ambiguity of the distances yet to be crossed. The implications and contents of this sentence echo again and again throughout all the books, appearing in a variety of events and complementing the philosophical and conceptual structure of the entire series.
But along with these nuanced and rich ideas, is a very simple acknowledgement, the importance and the implications of Space.
Many of you have probably seen my social media posts regarding my current research, predominantly of 19th Century Europe and the sciences.
I have been delving into a number of sources: Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Newtonian Mechanics, astronomy and astrophotography.
The main reason for this is that one of the two settings for the book is in a pseudo-19th century Europe (the other is medieval, but that will be for another post).
Its main character, Sreth, is an astronomer who is photographing dark regions of space. His work focuses on solving what is between the stars: is it empty, and if so, how far does it go; are there other obscured objects; is the dark of space thicker in some places than others?
He is at the forefront of astrophotography in his time as he attempts to go beyond what the human eye can see and what insights the technology will allow.
Recently widowed, Sreth is raising his young daughter Anolinn. As he attempts to balance the passion he has for his work, process the loss of his wife, and raise his daughter, the relationships between what is going on inside and outside of him gradually change.
And so, as he delves into the content of celestial space, his emotions and thoughts come into view, often with a clarity that is very uncomfortable for him. Through his journey we see a profound and rich exploration of his experiences of external and internal space.
"Space places a pivotal role in the exploration of consciousness..."
There are many ways in which we may conceive of Space:
- within atoms
- between molecules
- within ourselves
- between us and others
- of forests and cities
- of outer space....
Space may take shape in how we relate to it, and how it relates to us. There is an ongoing interplay: as space changes, so do we; as we change, so does space. Regardless of how we wish to name, measure or utilize it, space appears to be a fundamental component to our experiences.
For Sreth, space is itself an object of attention, yet as he delves further into it, the space of his relationships, whether it is place, people, or the landscape of his own mind, body and emotions, directly affect that exploration he sets his telescope upon in the darkest regions of outer space.
In "The Books of Magra," space places a pivotal role in the exploration of consciousness because it reflects the simultaneity of our interconnectedness and our perceived, and at times, asserted separateness. And again, that first sentence of the first book...
...resonates of this ongoing, complex, and shifting presence
that space has in our lives.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
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