Reify II: The secret water
Another short essay on grief
In my last piece I tried to write about grief but I wrote about ethics. It was a welcome deviation, all in good time as they say. But I still feel unresolved in pursuit of understanding the grief object in relation to reification: the experience of becoming material; what Deleuze and Guattari (1996) call territorialization.
To reify is to become real, to materialize, to have a dream become viable, to consummate in pursuit. Its associated experience, of reification, is a turbulent confluence of relief, elation, grief, and all things between.
As an aside, reification is only one letter away from deification. But this short essay is not about that, its about grief.
Or more accurately, this short essay is an attempt to become in relation to grief, to integrate with it, to accept the call of its otherness, in the face of its ever-presence.
David Whyte calls grief the secret black water beneath the still surface. “Those who do not slip beneath the still surface,” he writes, “will never know the source from which we drink the secret water.”
If becoming with grief is to become materialized with grief, then perhaps there is a materiality to be felt in the process. By which I mean not just to grieve, but to know the texture of grief. To know its liquidness, its wateriness. To feel its surface and take in its blackness.
In my own mind grief is deep blue. Cold in temperature, warm in colour, without space. Without light. As if its colour were a property other than that which is revealed by reflecting photons, as if it were colour itself; nowhere to be seen, but essential. Solid.
Grief feels frozen in me sometimes. Impenetrable. Non-Newtonian. And I want it to burst. I’m reminded of a line from John O’Donohue’s poetry, “were it to break forth into day its dark light might quench your mind, so it knows to dwell in you gently, offering only discrete glimpses”.
O the Irish poets.
The kind of solid grief I feel is held by anger. The anger binds it, presses it between a prior hurt and an outward, more violent expression. Anger grips, like fear, only more determined. And grief cannot breach the force of its containment, so it sits passive, and seeps through the cracks when it can.
O my grief. My friend, what becoming takes place in you then? By what transformation are you made material in the world?
I suppose there is something of you in these words now. Or between them. Something of us both. My grief. And in knowing you, in the glimpses you offer, I am made real with you, brought to life, initiated into the secret water we pour into words, into pages, into hearts, into the soil from which we then grow in our capacity for love. In our being for the other.