Waterfalls I (from Chinese Gardens)
Listen, when the crowds are gone. Only one sound can be heard; a perpetual background murmuring, nature’s white-noise, the sound of splashing without end. Eternally present.
Drawing our attention. Our eyes seek the source.
The sound of water falling. The sound of a waterfall.
A feature. To hear… To look at…
A focal point.
A shining movement, motionless… framed by rocks and greenery.
Dancing light, motionless… A waterfall.
In sound, as in sight, a centre, a calling out; a calling out of itself as a centre. A centre to look at, to fix at the centre of ones vision, to fix all that lies around as in relation to this centre, to transfix all that lies around it, as it transfixes our vision. Like all features: like statues, whose standing also reorders the landscape around themselves; the waterfall is a mobile, evanescent, statue. A writhing statue. A perpetuam mobile, a thing of perpetual motion. Its appearance for us, unlike any other thing. Made of motion, movement unceasing.
And as the unstopping sound calls forth our attention, it provides an alternate background to all the other sounds we might hear; for the other background now silenced, drowned in falling water, is silence itself… The sound of the waterfall, providing… a new silence… one you can hear… present behind things, behind the noise of things (at times conjoined with the voice of the wind as if in a duet; the sounds of silence…).
Contrasting stillness; water and growing things, stones, and sound, splashing of sound, and splashing of light, a falling sound and a falling of light, from the sky and in the motion, the falling of the waters. A reference to moving light, all else around, its frame, context, home… is slow moving or visually still; the waterfall creates a point of noise, of activity, of life moving at speed… all else is placid. The light reflected is unlike the light reflected in the water of the pool, or that above, all changing with the time of day, days passing, and the passing of clouds - yet all still relatively still. A waterfall changes constantly, but changes less… because always the rush of white noise, always the laughter of flowing water. And then the ‘white noise’ of the eye, the mixing of air and light in water falling onto water and stone…, a splashing of light, an image of life, of world time moving, transforming, amid slower geographic, geologic, epochal speeds of the rhythm of time, time of day, season… and that of the waterfall… its own time... its own temporality…
To which we connect.
Energy filled, energy generating nexus, like a quote, or a cut and paste citation on the stillness of the surrounding and so-different texture of space… and time... the bubbling of the eternal present out of… the eternally splashing present… the gift of life, the waterfall as a symbol of the presence of self. A coming into being… and a disappearing; a short duration of being, but irresistible. Unforgettable. Because if we listen, still there. Splashing in the stillness. Stillness moving, Just like ourselves…
Focal point of view or feeling. A shrine made from water; unlike other shrines, a shrine made from motion… scattering of light and sound as the sign of the sacred… set in its landscape. As landscaped by itself. Or by some other self; perhaps the genius loci, the spirit of the place, is the architect of this landscape so reordered, so ordered around the fall of water, the focal point of still motion…
Fall of water and trapping of light, a transformation of light. The fall of light from the heavens, visualized, made matter, living, moving, shining matter… the waterfall as shrine, in motion, a shrine perpetually in motion, again figure of renewal, self-creation, and in its apparent self-standing and renewing, figure of the gift of life, and the gift of value of making sacred. Like a spring, font of life as eternal as the stillness of the traditional shrine, where perhaps too, candles flicker, and smoke rises restlessly from burning incense sticks… For the magnetic force of the waterfall is like that of the fire, the flame that hovers, flickering above that which it consumes, as a waterfall wears away the portal that allows it to exist as a shining fall of water - manifestation of the forces of life and change. Symbol of the world as an offering made to us… offering to us. Eternally offering to us…Of us as recipient of an infinite gift, the waterfall as natural symbol of this giving, symbolizing absolute gift in its appearance. This appearance pointing back to our feelings so activated… a species sense organ we harbour in secret; the secret of being human, the ability to find this transfiguration… wherever we look for it. Fall and Flame as witnessed by us, so suggesting that the world may be sacred if we so wish it to be so. That the sacred sense of place, of space and time, is not the gift of the heavens, not the moon, or even the sun and stars, neither of light (though we would believe it so) nor of darkness (if we cannot believe), but solely of ourselves. If we so wish to give it…
As it gives itself.
For it is not ‘its own temporality’… but ours.
Copyright Peter Nesteruk, 2019