Arts

The Colonial Back Country

What is “behind”? What is the “back country”? What is it back of?  What is it behind? “Behind the valley” perhaps?

The View from Central on the Keremeous River 

But that doesn’t make sense. The valley is within the mountain. But the image below gives a clue.

See that? It is behind where the observer stands. If I had climbed the valley wall and looked down below, I would have captured an image of “below.” It’s all relative. In other words, it is an effect of the mind and its perspective in neutral space. Or it appears to be so. Still, there are stories in the rock above. If one read them in the images of commonly popularized images of the mind, they would be that relativity (which is really an image of unbounded power or neutrality, ie. of the power of the state and God). If one read them in a related set of popularized images of the body, they would be images of uplifted mountains in several cataclysmic events, ground away by glaciers and Jókullhaups, which are images of deep time, which place the mountains (and the human body) in a place called “beyond” or “the past,” leaving the ground free for a foreground (“the present”) and for development (the house and road you see below.) Notice how this foregrounded body (the present called “life”) houses the body in a constructed (“developed”) space, from which it looks out (at the valley below and the mountains behind.)

Here are the mountains behind (in a fine spring rain):

But, let’s look again at that house-body-present-development. Notice that it is not really in the story of the valley (or the mountain) but laid over it and replacing it with a focal point, which is so unavoidable that it places the mountains “behind.” In other words, “behind” is an expression of the grid of assumptions and understandings laid over the land by colonialism.

You can see the notion at work perhaps more clearly in the image below (just to the south of that house):

Notice how the road “up” to the “mountain” follows the story of the rock, without entering it, yet effectively replaces it. The point I’m making here is that these colonial developments (including the forms of thinking that lie behind them) have replaced the story of the rock as experienced by the body. And what’s that? Well, look.

The entrance through height and perspective is through two vertically-parted lips which speak the deer that spend their summers there.  Water comes from the same height and is spoken by the same lips. I think you can read the rest. You know this story, right?

~

Next: the colonial problem called “metaphor”

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