Discover more from Jonathan J. Harris
The Joyous, Lake
Reflections on fragmentation and wholeness
The Joyous, Lake carries a few different intentions:
It’s an I Ching hexagram that offers an evocative image for what might unfold at High Acres Farm in the future: namely, a joyful community of learning beside a peaceful lake — thereby serving as a prayer;
It’s a meditation on the mirror-like quality of “glassy” Lake Champlain — thereby introducing the notions of glass, reflections, and perception into the project;
It’s a recognition of the “motherlike” presence of this primordial body of water through its many shifting moods — thereby introducing the notion of “mother;”
It’s an invitation to reflect on ourselves — as our own bodies are 60% water.
When I walked through the deep snow a week ago this evening to visit the lake, chunks of ice were forming in its freezing waters under the twilight.
As I looked at these pieces of ice, it occurred to me that they were fragments of the lake itself — portions of lake water temporarily cut off from the lake, suspended in ice perhaps for the rest of the winter.
These floating pieces of ice were both individual things (this fragment, that fragment) and yet also inherently a part of the lake that created them. In other words, these fragments of ice were just like us — recognizable as individual people, each with our own bodies, personalities, and memories, and yet also inherently a part of whatever deeper underlying thing created us: the primordial lake in us all.
The local Abenaki word for what we currently call “Lake Champlain” is Pitawbagok — meaning “Lake in Between” or “Double Lake,” sandwiched as it is between two ranges of mountains: the Greens of Vermont to the east, and the Adirondacks of New York to the west. This notion of a “double lake” corresponds to the image of the I Ching hexagram, The Joyous, Lake, which shows one lake resting on top of another (as seen in the hand-drawn pictogram at the top of this post).
In the simple film that documents this ritual, yet another kind of “double lake” is explored. As the mirror-like surface of Lake Champlain reflects the mountains and the sky, the image of the lake itself becomes the mountains and the sky — thereby creating two sets of lakes and two sets of skies: a living image of the hexagram, revealing the body of water’s original indigenous name.
The essay that accompanies this film goes into greater detail about the lake’s geologic history — including the way in which it was formed by an adventurous arm of the Atlantic Ocean, and the presence within it of one of the oldest fossil reefs in the world.
This opening film is a brief meditation — a way of helping you become attuned to the emotional tone of the project, and a gentle way of preparing you for the greater intensity that is still yet to come.
Thanks for reading Jonathan Jennings Harris. Subscribe for free to receive new posts.