Sitting in the woods the other day I was surprised by the sound of a fox; had I really heard one during day in such shallow woods? It wasn’t impossible, but the image of the fox had already taken root earlier that day, encountered in the form of a painting . The realization of what I might be experiencing dawned on me. It seems the fox had been nestled in some deep corner of the imagination waiting to be stirred, and was now making his approach. Everything our organism comes into contact with leaves an indelible impression on the psyche whether we know it or not, remembered or forgotten, like it or dislike it. They inhabit a world we are mostly unconscious of, but it is always present. Different paradigms and many worldviews have been used to describe this. The neurologist speaks of neural pathways and networks, the psychologist the world of the unconscious mind, and the spiritual and artistic traditions of the world have given it expression through poetic language.
The sense is that we may catch a fleeting glimpse into this world through dream, intuition, or a sudden flash, perhaps like my fox, but that world is forever staring back. Experience tells me that in the greatest works we may not even be truly aware of what is happening to us. Maybe this is why individually we may never know the true greatness of a work of art, and why it takes time for us to know as a race. In it we hear the language of the hidden world. Art has the ability to speak to the parts of us we do not know are looking.
So I guess my fox didn’t just make his approach but made contact. Pictures can be like that; a call at the edge of the woods to see if some part of us will recognize and experience the wilderness they have came from.