Pools, Ponds, and Portals
Of Oceanic colour
This morning I woke up in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the tree farm above the little village, rain coming down like applause on the corrugated tin roof on the nutmeg bush, on the tangerine trees, and the hot pepper plant, and the unassuming bark of the cinnamon tree, and on the little fists of the crab spiders clinging to their dew-jewelled ziplines strung across the lichened branches of the lime trees. I am in it. Submerged.
Being deep in this watery all green all-growing world that asks for no writing or description I was almost going to wait till I got back to send you a note. But then, I thought I could say something not just from this other world but about other worlds.
Where I am now the word immersive feels shallow. I don’t want the flow of empathic pixels to bring me on a painless user journey into the metaverse or anything like that at all. I don’t want anything called an immersive experience. I prefer submersion.
If you have an organic tree farm where you can pick anato seeds and scrape mesquite amber and collect liliquoi vines with the sound of waves on a coral beach way below in background, you might not need this note about portals. But there is another way into other worlds that does not require air travel or drugs. There is a way to dive into a pool that is the pool that you make yourself. Ink can be your portal.
I love the way C.S. Lewis describes it. The first book of Tales of Narnia does not begin with a wardrobe which is only a doorway to another world but with the dream logic of magical pools:
UNCLE ANDREW and his study vanished instantly. Then, for a moment, everything became muddled. The next thing Digory knew was that there was a soft green light coming down on him from above, and darkness below. He didn't seem to be standing on anything, or sitting, or lying. Nothing appeared to be touching him. “I believe I'm in water,” said Digory. “Or under water.” This frightened him for a second, but almost at once he could feel that he was rushing upwards. Then his head suddenly came out into the air and, he found himself scrambling ashore, out on to smooth grassy ground at the edge of a pool. As he rose to his feet he noticed that he was neither dripping nor panting for breath as anyone would expect after being under water. His clothes were perfectly dry. He was standing by the edge of a small pool — not more than ten feet from side to side in a wood. The trees grew close together and were so leafy that he could get no glimpse of the sky. All the light was green light that came through the leaves: but there must have been a very strong sun overhead, for this green daylight was bright and warm. It was the quietest wood you could possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You could almost feel the trees growing. The pool he had just got out of was not the only pool. There were dozens of others — a pool every few yards as far as his eyes could reach. You could almost feel the trees drinking the water up with their roots. This wood was very much alive. When he tried to describe it afterwards Digory always said, “It was a rich place: as rich as plumcake.” The strangest thing was that, almost before he had looked about him, Digory had half forgotten how he had come there. At any rate, he was certainly not thinking about Polly, or Uncle Andrew, or even his Mother. He was not in the least frightened, or excited, or curious. If anyone had asked him “Where did you come from?” he would probably have said, “I've always been here.” That was what it felt like — as if one had always been in that place and never been bored although nothing had ever happened. As he said long afterwards, “It's not the sort of place where things happen. The trees go on growing, that's all.”
from The Magician's Nephew C.S. Lewis
I love the way that ink pools on top of paper, the way the water pulls itself together into a convex cohesive whole, the way its surface shudders with every movement but still holds itself together in smooth curves. The first large drop on the paper defines the ring in which all the other ingredients and drops of colour can play. The first drop is the pool the pond the portal. A rock you can look into. A moment. The source. The way the smaller drop enters this pool scratches it surface and enters it. And if you have your ingredients around you and enough sheets of paper and some quiet that comes from shutting out the internet and the right mood you can follow the ingredients in and under until an island forms and you are washed up there, not lost but waking up somewhere far away.
For full subscribers of the Colour Lab, I’ve included a few more portals below. And I’m curious what kinds of doors has ink opened for you? How have materials from this world let you dive into the unexpected? What is your portal? And if I don’t get right back to you, I am hoping the community can carry on for a few more days without me. I am, after all, in the middle of something.
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