Ancestor, Pyromancer

            Sometime ago, as I huddled against the rain and wind of Dublin, I happened to glance skyward, hoping no doubt to catch a glimpse of blue against the infinite grey.  What I saw instead alarmed and excited me: a woman in a window, high above in an ancient tower.  Despite her hooded garment, which partially obscured her face, I could see that she was sitting and staring downward.  Illuminated by the flame of her candle, it appeared that she was writing. 
           I turned momentarily towards the sound of rustling in the trees below, but when I turned my attention back towards the window, she was gone. 
           Inquiring at the church, St. Luighseach’s it was, I was told that it was impossible that any such person would be in that tower as it had been closed and off limits for many years. Indeed, the church authority went on, not even a cleric had been permitted to climb that ancient staircase for decades. 
            Not one to shy away from the inexplicable, I embarked upon a new and absorbing undertaking, as I determined from that day to investigate my vision, or whatever it was that she had been.  And whatever she was, she was not a figment of my imagination, overactive as it may be.  She had been quite solid as was her candle, her cowl and her writing implement.  I knew as well, that even if I could not gain access to that tower and even if I could and should find it uninhabited, there was something in this experience that I was meant to uncover.

            My Ancestor, Pyromancer, as I came to know her, is a contemplative.  A woman of letters, she invents symbols and word characters to represent written and spoken language.  Her ciphers are transpositions of synesthetic events, ambient audio, psychic visions, animal communications.  Too, she is weaver, a crosser of threads.  And it is through the association of this activity, which actually anticipates her body of glyphs, that she discerns the links between thread, structure, communication and tactile and innate experience.
            Her methods, the knot forms and burned paper counterparts are unions of opposites: utility, durability, vulnerability, dissolution.  Yet, the devices of candle flame, cord and twig refer to the histories of basic fiber configurations and archaic forms of communication.



           Following in her footsteps then, as we do our venerable ones, I made my own knotty language*, imagining as she does, the connections between nets, knots, loops and braids, and communication systems.  Inspired by Celtic knots and networks, the traditions of the Incan Quechua language and its system of Quipu knots, Shime rope structures and demarcations of the Shinto religion, and other less culturally specific fiber forms, this research reiterates the notion that in addition to their material uses, basic thread formations operate as language.

*Link to A Language of Simple Twists, 2010-11.


See also:

On the Topology of Celtic Knot Designs

Unknotting Knot Theory
by Julie Rehmeyer

rock flower: transience and renewal in japanese form
by Günter Nitschke

Mathematics of the Incas
by J. J. O'Connor and E. F. Robertson

Ceclia Vicuna: Quipus


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