Unresolved visits

Jung made several attempts to go to Rome and failed. He indeed collapsed on what proved his final attempt and decided that so powerful was his psychic relationship with the eternal city, he would not make any further attempts.

I have not collapsed at its thought but I am intrigued as to why I have never made it to the Orkney Islands.

They are the home of two of my favourite writers - one of whom, Edwin Muir, is so close I find it difficult  to find the rightly evocative description of our relationship. When I first read his 'Autobiography', I thought this is me (which, leaving aside forays into reincarnation, is, at the very least, intense)! The second, George Mackay Brown, a student of Muir's, I am both reading and reading about (in Ron Ferguson's 'George Mackay Brown: the Wound and the Gift') presently.

I have seen them. On a visit to Scotland in 2007, I spent a day driving north from Inverness and found myself on a blustery day looking across the Pentland Firth to their distant outline.

It was a land apart.

I was reminded of Chagall's refusal to re-visit the land of his youth because it might not sustain his imagination of it. Orkney is a place so clearly imagined and participated in, it might in actuality disappoint. At one level, this is inevitable - no place can sustain our imagination of it because we cannot sustain our imagination: the world roles back into its place, in dull materialisation.

At another level, I am afeared of it - what if its claim on my imagination proved absolute? What would my response be?

When Dorothy Carrington visited Corsica in the late 1940s, she was greeted on the quay with a warning to flee for if she did not, she would be captured. She did not flee, she was captured, and her life was shaped by her life and writing of Corsica to her joy.

But losing oneself in that way is always a challenge, one that Jung refused, rightly or wrongly, and one that I ponder - to visit or not to visit?

It might be splendidly anti-climatic - Jung may have come back, replete with experience and souvenirs, and fundamentally unchanged and yet he may have returned yet being someone other (to quote Eliot)!

How would 'I' bear that?


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