Of floe and flow

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Aug 2017 10:57:20



By Vijay Phanshikar

Sheet of floating ice, as the dictionary says.
The ice floating on a glacier, on a frozen
river, on the Arctic or Antarctic surface! The scenario is etched deep on human memory, no matter if one has seen any such spectacle or not, no matter if one has ever been to the North or South Poles, no matter if one has actually seen a glacial phenomenon. Everybody has a vivid memory of the
thick – or thin – sheet of ice on the surface of a water-body. Poets have exerted their
imagination to capture the process in words, the painters have spent hours in trying to
create a close-to-reality pictures of the floe. Calendars, story-books, picture
post-cards – all these media have often
resorted to presenting the sheet of ice on water’s surface.
In literature, the expression ‘glacial’ response is used often, denoting a cold, frigid, unresponsive response to anything. All these facets often come up in human imagination whenever ice spread on vast expanses comes up in thought.
It has its own chemistry, its own physics, and its own relation with human psychology as well.
Human psychology?
Yes, human psychology.
We have often used the word personality – stemming from the original word ‘persona’ – in human psychology. ‘Persona’ means ‘mask’, an external cover, the exterior of a human individual. The psychologists try to unmask the inner human individual whenever he – or she – has a little problem with self. Unmask the individual and you would know what is happening within, they say.
The idea is clear: Peel the layers of human mask – which everybody wears invariably – and the inner core of the individual would
lay bare.
Thus, we may say that beneath the surface of human mask – floe -- is a body of clear water!
A rather courageous statement! – as some may tend to say. But then, that is how I feel tempted to describe human being’s existence. Underneath, there is clear water whose
top-layer freezes to form the floe. This floe floats on the water, demonstrates movement as well, howsoever slight it may seem. In terms of physical ice frozen on the surface
of a water-body, things may appear very rigid, unmoving, giving the impression of
absolutely still.
But those who have watched glaciers for hours often report that there is a slight
movement all the time, noticeable only after hours of watching, as if in meditation!
‘Floe’, thus, has also a subtle yet
pronounced, connect with flow of the water underneath. In a glacial architecture, the water may not show any flowing movement. Yet, water – in any place including pots at home – has a tendency to look for flow, look for its level (of course lower). There is often a subtle, unseeable drag, a tendency of flow. And that suggestion, howsoever unseen, silent, beneath the surface, is covered by floe, the tough-looking sheet of frozen water, ice.
Floe, thus, is intimately connected with flow. In other words, flow and floe are parts of a same phenomenon! Remove the sheet of ice and you will get clear water in which lives a whole world of under-water organisms whose numbers are still getting added up by discoveries of newer species. In Jules Verne’s novel ‘Twenty thousand leagues under the sea,’ there is the description of how Captain Nemo of the submarine Nautilus finds his ship having gotten under the miles and countless miles of frozen expanses and tries to break free into clear air by piercing the
submarines ‘nose’ through the thick sheet of ice. In that condition as the struggle goes on, the professor notices the ‘life’ underneath the continent of ice.
A similar picture is available with human personality as well. There is the exterior, the mask or the floe as one may want to state, covering the actual mind underneath. The exterior -- the floe -- may be tough, but under it is the actual human being. This unstated human being has his own flow, which is
invisible from outside.
True, every time, the unstated being may not be very clean. It may have its own filth (which may be happening in most cases). Yet, there is always a possibility that under the tough exterior, floe, there may be a very
wonderfully sublime human individual,
having his or her own sense of flow!
This is, in short, the floe-flow connect!