The Night Sea Journey archive, very small

The Night Sea Journey


For the ancient people when they watched the Sun set in the west, particularly on the ocean, they would imagine the Sun had descended into the ocean all the way to the ocean floor–traveling closer to Earths center, as if it was descending into its belly–and it was uncertain what would happen. In its eclipse it was believed that the Sun had to encounter its bête noire–victorious it fought its way back to the east and rose again. A dawning of renewal and rejuvenation, something has ended yet it still moves–Eppur si muove–to the east, to the beginning.

A nekyia (νέκυια) is a rite by which the spirit of a deceased ancestor was called upon and questioned about the future. This was undertaken by way of a descensus ad inferos by Aeneas (who carried his father on his back), and Inanna (who visited her sister Ereshkigal). They descended into the dark, hot depths of the unconscious mind. The return from the underworld was the superlative feat, restoring the wholeness of the World beyond opposites: high and low, the past and the future–having now traversed this dark continent and made the unconscious conscious.

The roundabout route is the only direct one, unless Odysseus first descends into the underworld, he won’t be able to return to his own true nature: Ithaca. Circe, the enchantress (daughter of the Titan Helios and the Nymph Perse) who turns Odysseus’ men into animals, instructs Odysseus to consult Tiresias—the clearsighted prophet in Hades. Upon returning from the underworld, Odysseus returns to Aeaea where Circe meets him. She congratulates him on meeting death twice, in comparison with those who die only once. She gives him precise directions–a map–to save him from any disasters at sea or land and tells him he must leave at daybreak.

Galileo Galilei observed the sunspots which he drew as diagrams in his book: Istoria e dimostrazioni intorno alle macchie solari (1613). He confirmed Copernicus’s Heliocentric model based on the movement of the Sun’s spots. In Galileo’s book we are reading about a shift in center, from Earth as center (what the Church claimed), to the Sun as the center in the Solar System (what Copernicus claimed). In Galileo’s vision a tension manifests between two centers–a change in the moorings of Being.

The spots of the Sun–as voluptuous as a Jaguar’s rosettes–appear in active regions in pairs of magnetic polarity. They emanate a charge of electromagnetism, frequently resulting in solar winds that hit Earth’s electromagnetic field and cause northern lights.

In my drawing: The Night Sea Journey, Kjersti Alveberg is summoned, her axis aligned with the Sun’s. Her body uncoils as the landscape itself, in descending something greater is mediated: universality.

Movement and metamorphosis–a vertical tension aligns between heaven and earth, and the drama of the Sun’s trajectory. Something is eliminated, something added and everything’s lifted, for even if the content of this image shows an eclipse, something simultaneously resurrects.

Noah Assjer Alveberg