“Whenever my writing snarls itself into a tangle, I always take the same approach—I carry that horrible knot to bed and quench the lamp. Then, I wait. In the dark, my drowsy mind probes that tangle, whirling under it and around it, nudging and poking, tugging at any slack. The threads seldom loosen before I lose consciousness. Instead, I’m yanked awake at 3:00 or 4:00 AM, to fumble for my phone and tap urgent clues to my waking self. I have learned to trust in the ordinary darkness of a bedroom, because I trust in the illumination I’ve felt there. I recognize this sensation in Hilma af Klint’s ‘Altarbild 1,’ in which we see an inky darkness suddenly lit in vivid clarity.
It was autumn when af Klint wrote the final entry in her diary, ‘you have mystery service ahead, and will soon enough realize what is expected of you.’ Mystery service seems an apt description of an artistic practice too, rummaging through gloom in service to some mystifying force. The words and thoughts that fill my pages occur from elsewhere, by means I have never understood; tangles only arise when my conscious mind stands in the way. Only my sleeping mind can thwart such knots, enabling me to see how I might proceed. Certain visions may only be seen by closed eyes.”
—Doireann Ní Ghríofa, author of A Ghost in the Throat (Biblioasis, 2021)