from “The Dreaming of Place” by Hugh Lupton.
Musing by Malcolm Green
There was something that fascinated me when I was thinking about the essay ‘Apollo’s Lyre and the Pipes of Pan’ in Hugh Lupton’s new book, The Dreaming of Place.
He describes how he sees the famous image of the ‘Sorcerer’ in the Trois Freres Cave in France transforming over generations into the God Pan in the Greek Myths, to Satan in the Christian Bible, and eventually relegated to a nothing in the wilderness in the modern technocratic age. In each incarnation he is half man, half animal, standing on two feet with horns on his head. In each he represents something wild and uncontrollable in nature. But at each stage of the succession, he becomes diminished. In the first, he is presiding impressively over multitudes of animals, in the second he is a forest God but of a lower order, in the third he is evil, in the fourth he is banished. This is as opposed to his nemesis, the God Apollo, whose refined music defeats the wild rhythms of Pan in a music competition and goes on to become synonymous with rationality, increasing in stature to reign supreme in our modern age.
It was only King Midas (who had learned his lesson from the golden touch debacle) who claimed Pan the winner of the competition and was rewarded by Apollo with donkey’s ears for the insult. Midas then hides his ears in embarrassment.
Hugh surmises that what if it was Pan who gave Midas the precious, sensitive donkey’s ears. Midas who then whooped with delight at the gift, as suddenly he could hear the real rhythms and sounds of nature.
A gift, perhaps, we all need in this age of rationality. To bring back the wild rhythms of nature and of Pan into our bodies and minds, as counter to the culture of increasing separation and isolation.