Bridges over troubled waters

Bridge symbolism is evident in the film The Bridges of Madison County, where Meryl Streep’s character, a homely and dedicated wife and mother crosses over into her antithesis via a secret and passionate encounter with a visiting National Geographic photographer, played by Clint Eastwood.  That he was creating a photo-essay on bridges was not a mere trivial fact but a poignant and meaningful one.

 

The bridge as a symbol occurs in numerous contexts and can be thought of through a range of different meanings. The key function of a bridge is a connecting one – to join opposite sides and to bring people together. Previous President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, made ‘building bridges’ a central theme in her maiden speech and indeed it came to define her presidency.

The integrated education movement in Ireland really got off the ground with the launching of Lagan College, in the Castlereagh area of Belfast. The school’s ethos, to educate together children of all religions and none and of all abilities, is encapsulated in the centrepiece of its badge, the bridge over the river Lagan to symbolise the connecting of diverse and separated communities.

Lagan College Integrated School Badge

To bridge the final gap, listen to Simon and Garfunkel’s timeless Bridge over troubled water

Enjoy 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYKJuDxYr3I

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Falling into Life

                                               Famous for his shapeshifting and experimental, entrancing songs, David Bowie’s role in the film The Man Who Fell To Earth is rarely noted nowadays. For me this is one of his finest pieces of work, alongside the song Changes from the 1971 Hunky Dory album. As a rare example of a movie that closely mirrors the book, Walter Tevis’s novel of the same name published in 1963 tells the story of a Martian who comes to earth to find a way to save his planet, his species and his own family. Bowie captures perfectly the loneliness and at times despair of the alien as he tries to make himself understood by the people he becomes involved with on earth. There is always an archetypal quality to Bowie’s work and in this role, he seems to me to mirror the Jungian process of  individuation, that always requires some kind of descent into the unknown and often alien realms of the  unconscious.

Other symbols of a pending descent into the inner world include dreams of stairways down to a cave or basement, or sliding into a lake or ocean. The classic example is Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, whose descent down the rabbit hole and encounters with numerous archetypal characters represent the way in which humans can grow through encounters with the unconscious (see Clifton Snider’s article at http://www.csulb.edu/~csnider/Lewis.Carroll.html ).  

 Ancient myths also reflect this theme, like Orpheus in the underworld and Persephone’s cyclical return. But the ultimate goal of descent is to touch base in some way before returning to the world a more expanded and integrated person, like the hero returning with the elixir of life or as Jung expounded, the alchemist finding the lapis lazuli.

While not everyone’s cup of tea, The Man Who Fell To Earth gives me a sense of the ultimate creativity of the hero’s journey and takes the sting out of uncertainty and change, for though the hero may not achieve his or her intial plans, they often find connections and meaning in the new world, so that ultimately it is the journey, not the destination that matters.  Here’s a link to the Bowie song Changes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xorNjvg1B48

Let there be light

Hi and welcome to 2012. What about that full moon last night, January 8th? It was spectacular and so bright you could have done your bedtime reading by it!

There is something about winter light that is refreshing. Perhaps it is the promise of Spring, as seeds and bulbs lie dormant, waiting for their cue to burst into new growth.

With all the recent mildness though, our daffodils have already started to sprout. Worried at first in case the inevitable frost will kill off the budding plants, I found a friendly gardener at our nearby garage shop who assured me this morning that they will thrive nonetheless, even under ice! So that’s something to look forward to.

Annaghdown Abbey, County Galway. Photo by Fintan McDonnell

My picture today is another one from my husband’s Galway Gallery, taken in the ruins of  Annaghdown Abbey, where St Brendan is said to be buried. A final track from my favourite artist seems fitting: Into the Mystic, by Van Morrison. Peace and Joy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0DJ8hWgNes

 

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