Horizons as Metaphor

The view from Phu Khun northern Laos
The view from Phu Khun northern Laos
The landscape, near the junction of Route 13 and Route 7, at Phou Khoun (alternative spelling), alludes to the astonishing beauty of the country which, proportionately, has the highest forest cover in Asia

The horizon is where the known and the unknown meet. Where what we can see and traverse, meets what is unseen, perhaps unknown, and possibly impenetrable. So too with our concepts. What we know is integrated within our mental grasp, but beyond the edges of these concepts is matter which we may accommodate, or which we could fail to comprehend. On approach, or upon enquiry, the horizon recedes. The edge of our physical or mental world, like a wary dog, keeps its distance.

Above each outline of trees on succeeding distant hills could be a horizon from another viewpoint. From where this picture was taken we have an overview of those possibilities; some of what would be known and of what would be unknown, to a traveller in one of the valleys, is known from where we stand. From here we can see that there are no lines, boundaries or limits on the traveller, that each horizon reached will open up another panorama. And so too with concepts. The known and the unknown are divided in the same way as the horizon divides the landscape: it is only the viewpoint that creates the boundary or the distinction.

What we see as being within our horizon is our home, where we belong, where we operate safely, and know what to expect - geographically or conceptually. Beyond the horizon lies the unknown which may attract us with its potential for solutions to our problems, bright diversions to our boredom, or maybe solace to our pain; but also fear of these changes, uncertainty as to our ability to weather them, and mourning for the loss of home. This is the beauty of the horizon as metaphor, verging on symbol, fusing as it does familiarity with mystery, producing a semi-conscious fecundity which can be awoken by a mere turn in the road.

When we do stand on the far hill, there is no line in the ground, no barrier to our footsteps, but the view? It may be, as in the image above, a repetition of what lies behind, or it may be that we are now standing on the edge of a sea cliff. The horizon is the cusp where what we know meets the new: the unknown becomes the known, and a new unknown unfolds.

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  4th March 2015 ~ 11th July 2015