Thursday, May 23, 2013

Neptune speaks to me in two voices

Neptune Man
CC Jean Stimmell     5/22/13
The following dialogue is with a mask I made (shown above), just as he emerges from the warm kiln, fully formed, newly born.  I recognize him at first sight: He is Neptune Man.

Neptune speaking to me in his transcendent voice

I cradle my mask still warm from the kiln,
laying him down on the stonewall
I had built when I was young
now shrouded by vines.

Peering down at his face,
I exclaim in amazement…
 “How old you’ve gotten!”

“Indeed it's true,” my mask replies,  
“I'm not what I used to be, 
beached here like a piece of faded driftwood,
stranded after the tide went out. 
But it has its own rewards.”

 “Far from the bombast and clamor of the sea,
I find it a relief to just sit here and be.”

Neptune speaking in his descendent voice

I cradle my mask still warm from the kiln,
laying him down on the stonewall
I had built when I was young
now shrouded by vines.

Peering down at his face,
I exclaim in amazement…
 “How old you’ve gotten!”

“What did you expect,”
my mask spits back at me,
“you meditation master
 son-of-a-bitch!
Dragging me from the depths
like a fisherman of old
 hauling up a cod
to be filleted, salted,
and left to sun dry
 on the rack.”

“You are killing me!

Return me to my rightful place
with the mermaids and sirens
in the depths of the swirling sea:
Ecstatic, irrational, imaginal
The Realm of Dionysus
Where the only rule is:
No Buddhas are allowed!”

One interpretation: Neptune is speaking to two, very different sides of me.  Stanza #1 represents my transcendent, upward journey toward the sun, my dry, masculine side, my yearning to merge with the eternal and the absolute. Stanza #2 represents my descendent journey, what Thomas Berry calls “inscendence,” a damp, downward journey toward my  subconscious depths, my feminine side: a journey that deepens me by opening up my emotions, passion, and creativity.

According to Bill Plotkin, there is no conflict between transcendence and inscendence. “Each supports and enhances the other. Like Rilke, we discover we can have both:” [1]

“You see, I want a lot
Maybe I want it all;
The darkness of each endless fall,
The shimmering light of each ascent.”[2]



[1]  Plotkin, Bill (2008-09-30). Soulcraft (Kindle Locations 840-842). New World Library. Kindle Edition.
[2] Rilke, from Rilke's Book of Hours, p. 61. Plotkin, Bill (2008-09-30). Soulcraft (Kindle Location 5300).

*  Note: This mask has a long history.* As I wrote in my blog on 12/14/12, this project started when I contacted my friend and mentor, Peter Baldwin, expressing my desire to better understand Carl Jung’s work, particularly his meditative technique called “active imagination.”  I expected Peter to recommend a book to read but should have known better. He told me to build masks and dialogue with them. And so I did. The dialogue, including poetry, continues in Part II of my blog. All that happened six months ago when my mask was just raw clay. Then the project languished as I moved on to other things. By the time I finally glazed and re-fired the mask last week, so much time had elapsed that my mask was like brand-new, a blank slate, something I had never seen before. 

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