I’d like to stay in the dark forest and unexplored territories for one more day. I was listening to a Jungian analysis of the film Lion King the other day and they were discussing something Mufasa says to Simba, when he shows him the kingdom: everything the light touches, is our kingdom. I found this sentence very rich and relevant for our journey through the dark forest.
Light touches, light is being presented as an animate entity that has an ability to touch. What is this light, what drives it and how it moves in space? Remember we were talking about the gatherings around the fire to fulfil the need to belong? Once there is light in the forest it attracts others to come and join. First a few people gather together then the group starts to grow, people share their fire, create more light, transforming and expanding the territory. There is always something that starts the fire, one has to be brave enough to light the match and chances are the fire will start growing bigger. If the fire is strong enough we don’t have to maintain it for very long, we can get busy with other things — expanding the camp, arrange the house, etc. The fire will provide comfort, warmth and light. Light is also a source of information — it uncovers the unknown, making it less scary and accessible for many. Light has the ability to expand and thus absorb darkness. The way information spreads is a good example, think of the news and how they spread around informing people about the events creating a feeling of shared identity.
That’s also how culture works. Culture is a vast, solid, well-lit structure that holds people together, a big fire that gathers many people around to dance, perform rituals and take home some bits of it. It is an important function of culture to create a feeling of belonging, belonging not only to each other but to something bigger beyond ourselves, a source of divine light. Everything the light touches, is our kingdom. Something that started from a spark, if it resonate with others, will be absorbed by culture. From an act of bravery to the omnipresent mainstream.
Every light source has its edges. There is no light without a shadow. Notice how the sides of the objects dissolve into the darkness and gradually loose their sharp contours. The further you move from the bright center the more excitement you find. The longer you stay in the same spot, the more your eyes adjust and the excitement fades, pushing you to move seeking new territories. The blessing and the curse of existential unsettlement, constant movement in the quest for meaning.
We only need very few, but just enough, details to catch our gaze to get our imagination flowing. Full exposure and lack of mystery kill the luring magic of the unknown. It is like going to a Chinese restaurant with TL lights compared to a candle light dinner. Light gives information but kills self-discovery. Filling the gaps, taking risks, engaging with the unknown and making own interpretations is what fuels and enhances the feeling of aliveness. We like to make ourselves work, challenge fortifies us. Enlarging the fire makes our kingdom bigger, but the point is that it is also pushing us to explore the edges looking for the excitements of discovery.