The Vale of Soul-making
This collection of pebbles in a mountain stream called a website aims at a specific notion of reality and a particular way of seeing: that nature is multiplicitous, polyphonic, always churning, in process. Brooding, really, sitting on an egg. The persistent heat of transformation is what keeps a thing glowing and growing — a life, embers in a fire, irons burning hot.
Pebble: a finger pointing to the world as anima – soul – filled up with essence, embodied in the aliveness of nature but also in the complexity of human-made spaces created with eros and ethos, love and care. Plants, animals, sky, earth, culture – mundus – the mundane world of which we come and which we will go. Anima mundi, then, is the soul-filled mundane world; in here and out there are nested. After Keats: "Call the world if you Please 'The vale of Soul-making.' Then you will find out the use of the world."
Ars Botanica – botanical arts – are the arts of the animated, mundane world. To narrow the theme of this meandering stream to "plants" would be constraining and limited. In studying nature we study ourselves, our culture – we reflect and stretch and grow like trees; we gain metaphor. We move to de-literalize the things around us, un-anaesthetize, re-imagine our place, be affected by beauty. We learn to participate in, create, beauty.
Beauty then is our purpose, is the pattern of pebbles more than the sum of their parts. Join me.
Joshua Paquette, website designer and content creator.