I have always loved archaeology – the desire of man to understand from scratching below the surface of a dusty earth – an unknown but real buried past. Above is a photograph of the site of Troy – a city in Turkey besieged for ten years and finally conquered by a Greek army led by King Agamemnon in search of Helen a Queen from Sparta – in Homer’s “Iliad”.
What a story! What passion, focused desire, tenacity. What led up to it? What happened during the ten year siege? How did Helen feel? What happened to her afterwards? The reader wants to know. The first recorded archaeologist Henrich Schliemann began excavations in Troy in 1870. What drove him to investigate this place of a history of more than 4,000 years? Another great story.
This morning I was reading Thomas Keating writing on “The Human Condition”. He described the human journey as being that of an archaeologist – excavating the “self”. In the Near East centuries ago, Thomas reminds us that after a battle was won after burning down the old city a new culture was built on top of it. These ruins of ancient cities built on top of one another when excavated and discovered are called “tells”.
Our journey in life is to “excavate” the self – to dust of the surface with extraordinary care and pick our way gently to the layers below. On the way down to the centre, we will face our demons. The collapsed cities of our inherited past, the screaming terror of an existential fear of existing which we ran away from, the hurt, pain, disappointments, sorrow, despair which moved us to act in ways which caused us to curl up in shame.
We unfold with gloved hands, these artifacts of who we are with gentleness, curiosity and love. We bring them to the surface and place them in glass cases to be known by others, loved and admired. We keep digging.
Eventually we arrive at the place where the first brick was laid – the first creation of the culture, identify of our lives. We have the courage to remove this. What do we find?
I will share that with you in my second novel “The Secret Wound”which I am finishing this summer and which will be published by Matthew Smith in Urbane Publications in Spring 2017.
The author is not only someone who is prepared to excavate the site of their own identity but is prepared to create new worlds, built on multiple cultures and allow the reader to join them in the mutual discovery of hidden secrets, amazing treasures and the mystery of human existence.
As an author you become a creator who has forgotten his/her creation and is fascinated by the act of creating and uncovering the characters and motivations which drive us to such amazing acts of barbarism, love and an unquenchable drive of the human spirit to keep going. The author wants to experience again and again the mystery of squirming, fluttering and floating on the surface of life and painstakingly discovering the mystery of its depths.