Of Fred…and chaos…and creation….and…..

by Bernie Bell - 09:52 on 29 July 2022

Just a bit of philosophising…..

I’m reading some new poems by friend Fred  https://frederickturnerpoet.com/?page_id=2 in one of which – The Zenkoji Temple Crypt - he quotes the philosophical concept that……‘You can’t step into the same river twice.’

I told Fred of a memory which this brought back to me of when, in my first year at Uni.  I studied English, Philosophy and Greek & Roman Civilization. I remember in a Philosophy tutorial Mr. Walford presenting the idea of not being able to step into the same river twice because the river you first stepped into has moved on, and I piped up with……”But…you can’t even step into the same river once, as the river you see and register as being that river,  isn’t the river you step into.”   And Mr Walford said …”We’re coming to that, Bernadette.”  He was patient with me – he was a philosopher.

Fred then replied…”And of course if you’re floating in the river you’re in the same water you got into. Only the banks look different…”

And that is just one of the reasons that I value Fred.  He sees – all around, in all kinds of ways.  

You can get some idea of Fred’s ideas from these pieces….  https://theorkneynews.scot/?s=Fred+Turner++Bernie+Bell


In my mind I’m still roaming round the Ness - and thinking….

Trench T – Structure 27

A layer of yellow  clay

Did yellow mean something to them?

Did clay mean something to them?

Maybe what’s covered

By the clay

Should stay that way?


What would breaking the seal


BB July 2022

In the Taoist view of creation – the chaos or void out of which emerged the opposites of Yin and Yang – ‘dark’ and ‘light’ – is coloured pale yellow.

As chance would have it, I’d just written to Fred about the Void and the creation myth of the Ball of Towie, prompted by another line in one of his new poems…

‘The dreadful instant of eternity’  from 'The Traveler Packs His Tent of Words'….

Reminded me of …..

Some years ago - I think it might have been 2008 - Babette Barthelmess had an exhibition of her work in the Kirkwall Museum which included her re-creation of the Ball of Towie, which she interprets as presenting a creation myth – and I agree with her!

Babette said that if Mike and I went in on the day that she was dismantling the exhibition I could hold her re-creation. I had thought of the Neolithic carved stone balls as aids to meditation.  I thought that, if a person held the carved object and followed the lines, it could take them…….where they needed to go.

But….when Babette gave me her re-creation to hold I went and sat quietly in a corner and found myself immersed in the blank disc – the Void.  That was the aspect I was drawn to, and that was where I stayed!

The only original carved Neolithic object which I have actually held is the clear stone ball found at the Ness in….I think it was 2012.  The lad who was showing us the finds said that it was probably going to be a carved stone ball.  I'm of the belief that it wasn't, that it was meant to stay just as it is - clear - the Void.  Just as it is - everything in one, perfect, stone ball.  No carvings needed.  It tells the tale by being what it is.  That's just my idea of it.

When I held that ball I passed it from hand to hand - it was getting warmer and warmer and I very much felt that the next thing should have been to hand it on - so I passed it back to the lad who was showing us the finds.  Hand to hand, then hand to hand.

The void – nothing and everything.

An instant - eternity.

Though some of those instants seem to last an awful long time.

And sometimes, so much hinges on them.”

The one next to it is the Extra-Ordinary-A-Symetrical-Six-Knobber - which is a whole other ball-game...... https://theorkneynews.scot/2017/12/29/mathematical-musings-of-the-neolithic-kind/


Clay – according to Judeo-Christian belief – God formed Adam from clay.  ‘Curiouser and curiouser’ said Alice.

Where was the clay in Structure 27 brought from?

Andrew Appleby & chums did a lot of research into ancient  pottery….  https://www.pcrg.org.uk/ and discovered workable clay deposits around Orkney – do they include yellow clay?  And, if so, is that site/are those sites where the clay in Structure 27 was brought from?  And was where it was brought from significant too?  As far as we can tell they were very ‘aware’ people – aware of the significance of everything around them – sourcing and placing mattered to them – meant something to them.  https://theorkneynews.scot/2022/03/31/placing-the-shapes/

This discovery of a yellow clay layer - whether floor or sealing, led me of into many thoughts and paths. And my poor old brain struggles at the best of times. Still, I keep on ramblin’ on – thinking, roaming around in my mind, and out of it.

Knowing Fred and reading his works - poetry and prose - helps.  Another line – another line of thought….we’re back in The Zenkoji Temple Crypt……

“He comes out right where he had first begun.”  Walking the spiral.  Begin, follow the path, return.  http://www.spanglefish.com/berniesblog/blog.asp?blogid=15842

Learning along the way is good – but it don’t always happen.


And here’s one I made earlier…… https://theorkneynews.scot/2017/11/26/the-things-you-find-on-an-orkney-beach/




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