Behold, the Power of the Fading Light
I recently finished watching Wallander on my local PBS station that playback back to back episodes for over a month for their Thriller Thursdays. I had begun watching Wallander years earlier (probably 2016 when it first came out), but due to public television fundraising or something like that, I never saw all the episodes until now.
The final episode is called The Troubled Man where Kurt is in a race against time as he embarks on his final case — the disappearance of his daughter’s father-in-law. It is a complex convoluted mystery that starts and ends with this poem: Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Tranströmer. Ever since hearing it, I have not been able to get it out of my mind. I found this reading of the Half-Finished Heaven by the London Buddhist Centre.
I decided to animate key lines of this poem by creating moving musical archetypal images–the ones that have become my signature artwork on this site. Archetypal images as explained by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. He suggests archetypes are archaic forms of innate human knowledge passed down from our ancestors. Kendra Kelly writes in an article for the verywellmind, “Jung believed we inherit these archetypes much in the way we inherit instinctive patterns of behavior.” Indeed, Jung further postulated that archetypes are mirror images of instinctual responses that have been modified by conscious awareness. An archetype is an unconscious collective reservoir of information of what happens to people each time they make a choice to act different from what nature would have otherwise dictated through instinctual responses.
Indeed, archetypes form a psychological body much in the same way that ears, eyes, nose, arms, liver, spleen, and heart form a physical body. Just as individuals can choose to treat their bodies in different ways (e.g., some people recreate by doing drugs while others find joy and relaxation hiking outdoors), individuals fill the void of possibilities that an activated archetypes opens up inside of them in different ways (e.g., some people act on violent, criminal impulses others choose to direct their anger and rage in less violent and destructive ways).
See this well-written article about Carl Jung’s views on Crime and the Soul. And so without further ado, here is the Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Tranströme along with my individual interpretation of images activated by each line.
The Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Tranströme
- Despondency breaks off its course.
First Archetypal Image for First Stanza
2. Anguish breaks off its course.
Second Archetypal Image for Second Stanza
3. The vulture breaks off its flight.
Third Archetypal Image for Third Stanza
4. The eager light streams out, even the ghosts take a draught.
Fourth Archetypal Image for Fourth Stanza
5. And our paintings see daylight, our red beasts of the ice-age studios.
Fifth Archetypal Image for Fifth Stanza
6. Everything begins to look around. We walk in the sun in hundreds.
Sixth Archetypal Image for Sixth Stanza
7. Each man is a half-open door, leading to a room for everyone.
Seventh Archetypal Image | Seventh Stanza
8. The endless ground under us.
Eight Archetypal Image | Eight Stanza
9. The water is shining among the trees.
Ninth Archetypal Image | Ninth Stanza
10. The lake is a window into the earth.
Tenth Archetypal Image | Tenth Stanza
Winter Solstice | Ancient Pagan Day of Ritual for Peoples of the Northern Worlds
While the winter solstice marks the “beginning of winter” in the Northern Hemisphere as marked by the longest night of the year. The same day is marked by people in the Southern Hemisphere as the beginning of summer as they experience the longest day of the year.(See article in Business Insider for a full view of the nature of time and light as experienced by life on Earth).
Across the Northern Hemisphere, peoples of all times and cultures and religions took note of when the dwindling light finally relented its steady march to darkness and turned the other way. Earth probably owes this time honored pattern to a collision with another planet thought to be about the size of Mars. This colossal collision s a hypothesized to have occurred way, way back at the dawn of the creation of our solar system when an ancient planet called Theia collided with early Earth about 4.5 billion years ago. The impact knocked ancient Earth off its axis titling it so that it wobbles back and forth with the Northern Hemisphere facing towards the sun for six months and then the Souther Hemisphere. It also is thought to have created the moon and could have been a critical conveyor of water to our planet. [Image from Universe Today | A Cataclysmic Collision Formed the Moon, but Killed Theia by Evan Gough | 2/2/16]
Due to our fantastic ability to focus consciousness like a beam of light, humanity has built up a vast reservoir of knowledge like this, but our ancestors were no less clever–they simply had different ways to explain what they were experiencing. Especially significant events such as the dwindling of sunlight that made food hard to find and increased the need of ancient man to find shelter. If Earth one day never wobbled back to warm the Northern Hemisphere, it would spell doom for millions of living organisms that inhabit these realms of the planet.
Just a small representation of the diverse celebrations marking the return of light to the Northern Hemisphere include:
- Saint Lucia’s Day, Scandinavia.
- St.Lohri, Northern India.
- Dongzhi, China.
- Newgrange, Ireland.
- Soyal, Hopi of Northern Arizona. .
- Yule, Northern Europe.
- Santo Tomás Festival, Guatemala.
- Stonehenge, England.
- Saturnalia, Ancient Rome.
- Toji, Japan.
There are many more Winter Solstice celebrations in the Northern Hemisphere besides these. In my previous blog, Satan’s Sister & Santa Claus, I explore the colonization of these vast, diverse Winter Solstice celebrations as the ancient roots of Western Civilization stretched far into the northernmost regions of Europe, and then far beyond to become a dominating force around the world imposing a worldview that “sees humans as dominant over nature and feels natural resources should be used for the benefit of humanity. The western worldview puts man first and declares human beings as superior to all other living and non-living things in the environment. ” — Environmental Worldviews: Western & Deep Ecology
For the ‘civilized’ Romans colonizing northern Europe long ago, this is where the barbarians lived. Even today, their fear mixed with disgust and desire to control and gain more loot for themselves looms large in the psyche of modern Western man. Conduct a Google search of barbarian, and you will find tons of images of primal Germanic-Nordic warriors.
All this is a long way of saying that we are complex beings with written histories that are highly biased to glorify the conquering tribes. Or if not completely conquered, the assimilation of whole groups of people into a larger and/or more technological advanced group. But we also have psychic histories that are stored in the collective well of consciousness, the one Carl Jung helped to bring into the sphere of the long, narrow beam of Western consciousness.
Here, nothing is lost or forgotten. Here, a completely soft-spoken, normal, well-adjusted modern man can turn into a barbarian in a split second when some sleeping archaic archetype is trigger into action. When we fail to grow as conscious beings, we can easily succumb to the power of our sleeping psyche.
Consider Robert S. Palmer, 54, of Largo, Fla. who pleaded guilty in October to assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon during the Jan 6 assault on the Capitol. The Washington Post reports that he had thrown a fire extinguisher — twice — a large plank and then a four- to five-foot pole at police before he was struck with one rubber bullet. At his sentencing, Palmer said, “I’m really, really ashamed of what I did. I was horrified, absolutely devastated to see myself on there.” — Fla. man sentenced to 5 years for attacking police, the longest Jan. 6 riot sentence yet by Tom Jackman, 12/17/21
He will now serve 5 years in prison for his actions that he himself is ashamed of committing almost a year ago. How does an average, law-abiding citizen go from a normal man to a berserker capable of murder?
The Old Norsemen knew how. They cultivated and embodied a whole class of warriors known as berserkers. Men who put themselves into a trance-like fury making them furiously violent and out of control. — Wiki Berserker | Images from Wiki and Google Berserker search
Got to admit that there are striking similarities between depictions of ancient Norse berserkers and the Jan 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol–mainly furious white men in a rampage. This is the ugly under belly of Western Civilization beaming brightly for all to see. The barbarian is alive and well in modern times. It has not been vanquished nor destroyed in the minds and psyches of modern men and women. It only needs to be tripped or triggered to roar vividly back to life.
And so, here we are back to the barbarian. This is why I choose the poem by Tomas Tranströme for on this shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere we are reminded of our finite time on Earth and the question begs to be asked what kind of life do we wish to choose for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for everyone else. It is all connected–individual actions are connected to collective actions that are connected to our shared reality.
I like Tranströme’s poem because it mines the deep archaeological cervices where valiant, cowardly, noble and ignoble parts of our all-too-human-soul lie forgotten but very much ready to take over control of the reins guiding our thoughts and actions in the world. His poem helps modern men and women who scarcely have a moment to think a thought for themselves anymore to pause and sink deeper into who they really are as living, conscious beings on a miraculous planet chock full of life.
This is what ancient Winter Solstice celebrations paid tribute to–the miracle of life on Earth. This is something all humans everywhere and through all times felt and perceived and celebrated. It is what the early Christian missionaries understood and so moved the birth and celebration of Jesus to this time of year to harness and redirect this powerful flow of collective human consciousness. It is what Tranströme’s poem hints at, very delicately but in a dynamic, compelling, numinous way. This shortest day of the year is an opportunity to feel and remember who and what we really are.
The interpretation of Half-Finished Heaven by the London Buddhist Centre is different from my interpretation as captured in the animated musical images above. However, rather than negating my personal interpretation, the Buddhist Centre’s interpretation widens and broadens the archetypal image that offers a glimpse into a room for everyone as captured by Tranströme’s seventh stanza of his poem. This room is the rich reservoir of humanity’s collective consciousness–as illuminated by the light of our collective conscious attention and as sleeps in the depths of our collective unconsciousness.
What follows is not a detailed analysis of the images above but rather an accounting of what used to create them. The power of an archetype always lays inside of you and what is evoked in your heart and mind. [Note: My division of Tranströme’s poem does not necessarily conform to his original publishing of this poem as available in The Half-Finished Heaven: Selected Poems and other publications featuring Tranströme’s work.]
Shutterstock | Child with Candle
Baby’s first party trick! Little boy celebrates his first birthday by trying to eat the flaming candle on his cake
Image from: Wheel of the Year: Yule
“What is the meaning and symbolism of Yule on the Wheel of the Year? Yule is the time of the rebirth of the Sun at the winter solstice, a time for parties, gift-giving, and more. Join our virtual discussion group on Zoom or follow our livestream on your YouTube channel.”
“The confabulation of pagan and Christian symbolism for the Winter holiday. “It is not the birth of the Sun but rather that of the Son.”
“When the Church became ascendant in the Empire, it did all it could to squelch the festival, but like many popular pagan customs, it was so integrated into many daily lives that it inevitably influenced how Christmas, by then assigned to the same calendar day, was observed.“
Music for the Feature Archetypal Image is Magic Forest — Winter Solstice on Ice. This is a beautiful song filled with mystery, wonder, and magical being in a world full of life.
First Archetypal Image | First Stanza
Despondency breaks off its course.
Album cover for Despondency by Dead in the Manger — available on amazon music
I was drawn to the image first. The parallel to this poem, the winter solstice, and Christmas is very interesting. I hadn’t expected these connections when I selected this image.
This is my work. You can see how I used it in Tribute to Cider
This video is a Tribute to Cider. She is our beloved dog who we lost suddenly and tragically two days before Christmas of 2019. She was 11 years and 1 month old. She was a senior dog, but she was full of life and acted like a puppy always. Our illusions about reality can break and shatter into millions of tiny pieces so suddenly, and how they prevent us from really seeing reality. Hang on to all those who you love be them people or pets or our beloved planet Earth. I began these drawings 7 months before Cider’s death.
Music for the archetypal image of despondency is My Friend by NKOHA, which is beautiful, haunting, and enchanting–capturing the sweet silence of despondency and the betrayal of something sacred that often leads to this powerful emotional force within us.
Second Archetypal Image | Second Stanza
Anguish breaks off its course.
The Thing in Tribute to Cider
Another one of Seo Young-deok‘s pieces that is both stunning and haunting.
Anguish 18, 2013
Also by Seo Young-deok
The missing face of this figure is especially poignant and evocative of the powerful emotional currents of anguish.
Music for the archetypal image of anguish is Anguish by Devil Airlines. It is particularly chilling and haunting as it captures musically the terrible cycle of captors and captives that leaves so many people in warped and mangled states of anguish.
Third Archetypal Image | Third Stanza
The vulture breaks off its flight.
Image from: Why African Vultures Are Collapsing Into Extinction | National Geographic
Image from: Ruby the Turkey Vulture | Portland Aududon — In 2007, a woman called the Wildlife Care Center to report that a friendly Turkey Vulture was hanging around her property near McMinnville, Oregon. It had flown down to the ground and thrown an acorn at someone’s feet, slept on the woman’s porch, followed her around and into her barn, and jumped onto her arm.
Image from: Absurd Creature of the Week: The Magnificent Bearded Vulture Only Eats Bone. Metal, Dude | Wired Magazine
The beautiful bearded vulture feeds almost exclusively on skeletal fragments.
Image from: Vultures, tongue orchids: why are rare species here in UK? | Birds | The GuardianVisit | The Guardian
The Egyptian birds are one of a number of foreign visitors, but why have these continental drifters fled north?
Image from: Why we should all love the vulture by Matilda Battersby | BBC Earth
Have a bone to pick with the scraggy vulture? Just remember they’re vital as nature’s waste disposers – which is why their decline is very bad news…
Music for the archetypal image of the vulture breaks off its flight is OST: PURPLE EYES ~ Pachislot Akumajo Dracula Lords of Shadow. I chose song for its sound, which is edgy, uncanny, unearthly, eerie, which are all qualities that an image of a vulture can evoke–after all they are a bird strongly associated with death. And so is count Dracula come to think of it. Perhaps this stanza of the poem suggests even death breaks off its path in the light of life.
Fourth Archetypal Image | Fourth Stanza
The eager light streams out, even the ghosts take a draught.
Image: Ghosts Alcohol GIF
Music for the 4th archetypal image is from Spooky Mall by LIL Runners (Available on Amazon Music). I felt the sample I found to have the perfect mix of mysterious, spookish, and uncanny, which felt right for this 4th stanza of Tranströme’s poem. I am afraid you have to have Amazon music or listen to the sample embedded in the animation above.
Fifth Archetypal Image | Fifth Stanza
And our paintings see daylight, our red beasts of the ice-age studios.
The Fortune-Teller — probably 1630s by Georges de La Tour French
Darting eyes and busy hands create a captivating narrative between otherwise staid figures, each of which is richly clothed in meticulously painted combinations of color and texture. La Tour has taken on a theme popularized in Northern Europe by prints and in Rome by Caravaggio: an old Roma (traditionally known by the derisive term “Gypsy”) woman reads the young man’s fortune as her beautiful companions take the opportunity to rob him. — Visit the Met Museum online to learn more about this painting
I lost this one… sorry
Sunlight–reflected and refracted–paints an ever-changing color composition.
Created by artist Bob Miller, this classic Exploratorium exhibit is a “live” painting that uses light from the Sun as its palette.
Image from Ice Age Wiki: Rudy is a Baryonyx that lived in an underground world during the Ice Ages. He makes his appearance in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs where he is the main antagonist.
I am pretty sure this stanza is referring to cave paintings but something adorable and deadly caught my attention with this image, and so it found its way into this animation. Perhaps a nod to man’s deadly ice-age, dinosaur side laying asleep deep inside his psyche until something triggers it wide awake!
Another image of Rudy who appears through mist to Buck.
I really love this red dinosaur!
Music for the 5th archetypal image is from The Velociraptor Song from Press Play Picture House. Watch out! This song really gets in your head!!! I love it, and I feel it really does speak to a feeling buried deep in this stanza of Tranströme’s poem. I think he is hinting at the ancient, primal parts buried deep inside of us and barely illuminated by our individual small flickering flames of consciousness. They really can catch you inside the deep recess of your soul, the parts hidden in the dark.
Sixth Archetypal Image | Sixth Stanza
Everything begins to look around. We walk in the sun in hundreds.
Image from the Facebook community:
Image from article in The Atlantic:
A pair of political-science professors are combing through news stories and individual reports to estimate the number of people who demonstrated on Saturday. By Kaveh Waddell — I was there:
Image from Wired:
An analysis of tweets based on 40 march-related keywords and hashtags reveals the topics marchers are prioritizing.
I interviewed over 30 people at the DC Women’s March that took place in 2017.
Image from article in Elle: Portland Protester ‘Naked Athena’ On Why She Stripped Down
“My nakedness is… my expression.”
And don’t miss my blog about Naked Athena and her power.
Image from Crowd Png Image File – People Crowd Walking Png, Transparent Png
I liked the long and endless feeling that this image adds to the animation
Music for the 6th archetypal image is from by Thomas Bergersen – Cry (Sun). This is a powerful, compelling, hair raising symphony of voice and musical instruments that captures an endeavor, which is what this stanza makes me think of and feel.
Seventh Archetypal Image | Seventh Stanza
Each man is a half-open door, leading to a room for everyone.
Image of Victorious – Man standing on the top of a mountain raising from Free Stock Photos
Image from HALF OPEN RED CHURCH DOOR, SPAIN, GALICIA
Image from An Open Door
Photo credit: Brad Smith, “An old door in an abandoned log house”
An old door in an abandoned log house uploaded to Flickr on January 31, 2007, by Brad Smith.
Image from A Half-Opened Door is Half-Opened Happiness
“Everyone who lives life intensely has, at one point or another, experienced what I like to call a half-open door. We know it can get complicated, but we only get one shot at life and at finding what really makes us happy while living it. Part of our happiness depends on knowing which doors to shut and which to fully open. It’s extremely healthy to remember that a half-opened door is half-opened happiness.“
Image from: Door | Spremberg, Germany, Urban Exploration
Here are some other spectacular photos on this site —
Music for the 7th archetypal image is from The Doors classic Break On Through (To The Other Side). Definitely works for this image!
Eight Archetypal Image | Eight Stanza
The endless ground under us.
Image from: Endless Facebook Group | Party Entertainment Service
Image from: Fine Art | Endless Dream (International Awards Winner)
Image from: Stormy Heart Valentine
Music for the 8th archetypal image is from Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days. Honestly, this is the best darn song for the feeling I got from this line in the poem.
Ninth Archetypal Image | Ninth Stanza
The water is shining among the trees.
Image from: Sunlight through trees images | Shutterstock — a few others from this site are:
Image from: Sunlight Through Trees | Pinterest
Image from: Sunlight Through Trees | Pinterest | Other images from this site
Image from: Royalty Free Stock Photos | Turquoise clear water with the rays of light in a swimming-pool
Image from: Photographer Creates Amazing “Liquid Light” Images by Splashing Around in Water | Some other magical shots!
Image from: Liquid Light Tools | Denis Smith | A few other photos from this site —
Music for the 9th archetypal image is Shining Water by BUIWUI on Spotify.
Tenth Archetypal Image | Tenth Stanza
The lake is a window into the earth.
Image something similar to: Aerial flight over small lake of perfectly round shape
Image from: DreamsTime Photos
Image from: Doctor Who Series 1 “The End Of The World”
Music for the 10th archetypal image is At the End A mix for the end of the world part. 1 The National Parks. This is an awesome song and perfect, absolutely perfect for this last stanza of this amazing poem.
We Are Indeed Tranströme’s Half-Finished Heaven
We the people of this beautiful Earth. And winter’s fading light is a stark reminder of our own fading life–for no living being exists forever. Each of us has a limited amount of time to be (truly be) in this Half-Finished Heaven or this Half-Finished Hell for both are possibilities inside of us. And we choose, as conscious living beings, which one to inhabit moment by moment.
It is because of this dwindling light of life that each of us must face that I would like to dedicate this post to my dear friend Brian Bergman. He passed away suddenly 4 months ago to this day. I only found out last week that he had died. This is a video that he helped me make back in 2016. We always talked about making more. Life is precious and fades too fast, just as the setting sun almost disappears during the winter months.
Be well. Take care. And Happy Winter Solstice to you on this good and longest night!