IMMANENCE

There is an immanence inherent in all things,

a constant becoming

not separate from, not outside of.

Here.

 

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***

Immanence – it’s a tricky word. It’s not the same as imminence. It is of course, the state of being immanent, which Merriam-Webster defines as indwelling or inherent, or within the limits of possible experience or knowledge.

The sense of immanence I’m getting at with these images (hopefully) is close to the concept discussed below in a Wikipedia entry about a French philosopher named Gilles Deleuze:

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Plane of immanence (French plan d’immanence) is a founding concept in the metaphysics or ontology of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Immanence, meaning “existing or remaining within” generally offers a relative opposition to transcendence, that which is beyond or outside. Deleuze rejects the idea that life and creation are opposed to death and non-creation. He instead conceives of a plane of immanence that already includes life and death.
[Colebrook, in Deleuze: A Guide for the Perplexed states] “Deleuze refuses to see deviations, redundancies, destructions, cruelties or contingency as accidents that befall or lie outside life; life and death were aspects of desire or the plane of immanence.” This plane is a pure immanence, an unqualified immersion or embeddedness, an immanence which denies transcendence as a real distinction, Cartesian or otherwise. Pure immanence is thus often referred to as a pure plane, an infinite field or smooth space without substantial or constitutive division.
[Deleuze states] “We will say of pure immanence that it is A LIFE, and nothing else.”ย ย  This is not some abstract, mystical notion of life but a life, a specific yet impersonal, indefinite life discovered in the real singularity of events and virtuality of moments. A life is subjectless, neutral, and preceding all individuation and stratification, is present in all things, and thus always immanent to itself.

 

An ethics of immanence will disavow its reference to judgments of good and evil, right and wrong, as according to a transcendent model, rule or law. Rather the diversity of living things and particularity of events will demand the concrete methods of immanent evaluation (ethics) and immanent experimentation (creativity).

 

Lest you think I’ve gone off the rails, let’s just say that Deleuze’s ideas as presented above and in this link resonate with me now, as I look at these photos. I might also describe the quality I’m thinking about as a roving, ever-present sense of possibility and becoming, equally inherent in and permeating all things – the rain chain, the running boy, the shadow, your own eyes.

Photos:

  1. A rain chain at Seattle’s Washington Arboretum Japanese Garden. Rain chains can make the movement of water from roof to ground a delight to watch and hear.
  2. A bamboo pole keeps the old wooden doors closed at the Japanese Garden.
  3. A Madrone tree at Washington Park on Fidalgo Island. The peeling bark reveals wonderful colors, the branches curve and contort in pleasing ways.
  4. Dead limbs on an old juniper tree at Washington Park. Junipers normally don’t like the Pacific northwest but these trees, Juniperus maritima, have adapted to our islands in Puget Sound and a few spots on the Olympic Peninsula and coastal British Columbia. This species was “discovered,” i.e. recognized as genetically and reproductively distinct from the Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum), just ten years ago.
  5. A Ginkgo leaf on its way to the ground, stopped by a twig at the Japanese Garden.
  6. Late afternoon at the conservatory in Volunteer Park, Seattle.
  7. Espresso with a glass of water, and Christmas lights in the background; Pelican Bay Books, Anacortes, Washington.
  8. A boy leaving a cafe in Seattle. Dad let us have cookies!
  9. Looking out to the street while staying warm and cozy at Pelican Bay Books.
  10. Shadow play on a wall at home.
  11. & 12. Sunset over Lake Washington from Juanita Beach in Kirkland. Photos taken with my phone.

69 comments

    • I’m happy to hear that, Hien. I had some photos that didn’t seem to fit into the usual categories I use – a post about a place, etc. When I looked at them, that word came to my mind, so I looked it up, and expanded on the idea. Who knows what will be next? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  1. No, definitely not off your rails…
    #3 is lovely, but too sharp to look at for long ๐Ÿ˜•
    #5 the lovely solitude theme (for me, at any rate)
    #6 Mystery and suggestiong
    #7 first glance was ‘grapes’? Chardonnay perhaps? ๐Ÿ˜€
    I love the word you’ve added to my vocabulary

    • I’m happy you like that – yes, it’s always nice to make the acquaintance of new words. I’m puzzled about your saying #3 appears really sharp because it looks kind of soft to me, as opposed to #4 for instance. But I know that looking at monitors for hours can really be hard on the eyes. Especially these days, when we don’t get out as much – at least I don’t. Thanks for your thoughts Gunta, and have a great week!

      • Oops… it’s this scrolling back and forth that threw me off. I was actually referring to #4. But, yes… staring at monitors hasn’t helped and I’m getting to an age where cataract surgery is imminent (perhaps with just a touch of immanence?) This week is heading north toward Portland… we’ll be heading home like turtles with a home on our back. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • I wonder if you’re there yet – maybe. I hope all goes well – I know you’re not fond of cities, but maybe you’ll have a really nice meal of two, and that will make up for it. Or a visit to the Chinese garden, which is an easy one to see, and even this time of year I bet it’s very pretty.

  2. Interesting word. I would have thought it a variation of โ€˜imminentโ€™ , but I see I would be wrong. Does that mean someone who is a hermit is immanent?

    • I misspelled the word at first, and my sense of the meaning was vague. In my mind, it still feels a little like imminent. English can be weird! As for the hermit, I don’t see how a hermit would embody immanence any more than anyone else, though maybe it would be easier to experience immanence when alone. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Mark, I appreciate it.

  3. indwelling….and as i learn to navigate the mundane and see beauty…these are beautiful in those ways to me…i feel the thread of green…i like green thread running through your composition Lynn…looks like you had a lot of fun too…smiles from sunny etown ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Yes, the beauty in the mundane is definitely a big part of this idea. That thread of green only became apparent to me after I looked at these several times. Then when I saw it I wondered if it has more to do with all the green around here than anything else. It’s what I see. Seattle calls itself the Emerald City. I did have fun putting this together – like I was saying to Hien above, I had some photos that didnโ€™t seem to fit into the usual categories I use and when I looked at them, that word came to my mind. I looked it up and expanded on the idea – added a few more photos, threw out a few. Oh, and went down the wormhole, especially after googling Deleuze & Buddhism…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I’m afraid the Wikipedia entry might just as well have been written in Martian for all I could follow and understand. I got it though from your images. Beautiful series, especially because it ties together such disparate subjects under one overarching theme.

    • I know, it’s very dense. Like I was saying above, I had these photos and that word came to my mind, and it grew into something pretty abstract in terms of the written language. But from what you said, it seems it worked on the visual language level. I’m glad.

  5. I’ve never studied metaphysics, and cannot pretend to instantly grasp this idea of immannce, but certainly very very interesting, and it seems like it could be a healthy and positive approach. I’ll read a bit more about it.
    Your photos are wonderful, as always. The light and atmosphere in the bookshop are almost palpable. And the juniper is almost like an abstract creation of silvery metal.

    • This Wikipedia entry is tough reading and from what I understand, reading Deleuze is way harder. But he appeals to me and the idea of immanence, as far as I can sense it, does too. I’m glad to hear you mention the juniper – it’s an amazing tree actually, this is a small of it. I’ll be photographing it more when I’m in the area. And the bookstore – I used that lens wide open at 1.8 for that effect and was happy with it. Then I used a filter in Color efex that increased the feeling – but of course I’m not sure which one(s) I used now!

      • Definitely worth investigating, it does seem to have a lot of appeal, and a good basis for a constructive approach to life. I do wonder about reserving the right to consider the possibility of something transcendent out there.

  6. You’ve taught me a new word, and one that immediately resonates with me. Your photos do just what you hoped they did, I think. This reminds me a bit of the writings of Byron Katie. Are you familiar with her?

    • I love that the word resonates, and it’s a new one! I’m looking into Byron Katie now – I vaguely remember coming across her a few times, but no, I’m not really familiar with her. Some of his ideas also have a similarity to certain Mahayana Buddhist ideas, like understanding that enlightenment is not something “out there” but is experienced here and now; that all sentient beings have Buddha nature. It’s always a pleasure to exchange ideas and information, isn’t it?

      • Oh yes it definitely is. I love that~all sentient beings have Buddha nature. Byron Katie is married to Stephen Mitchell, I believe, and together they wrote a book on Zen Buddhism. I think it is called “A Thousand Names for Joy”.

    • That wasn’t the conscious intention, but when I looked at these seemingly disparate photos together, I thought of that word. It’s gratifying to think that you can get a sense of it from the photos, Otto, thank you! Not an easy idea to describe!

  7. I’m having a hard time with immanence. Just when I think I understand what the word means, the meaning dissolves. But I wonder if it might at all be related to what Leonardo da Vinci tried to do in his paintings. I just finished listening to Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci, so that’s why I’m thinking about this. Isaacson says Leonardo was always trying to portray movement, and that what he painted was meant to suggest what preceded and what followed the moment in the painting. Probably I’m way off. But I think you’d enjoy the book anyway! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The gingko leaf is my favorite of this collection, unless it’s all of the last three images. (And I’m a pretty harsh critic of sunset photos.)

      • I like the way you put that – just when you think you have the meaning, it dissolves. I hear you! I’ll check the link…it’s hard to know if Da Vinci was talking about something similar; it’s hard to put oneself into the head space of someone who lived so long ago, too. That ginkgo leaf was speared – it was so strange. Yes, I know you’re not a sunset person, so good! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I headed straight for Websters dictionary but I am still no nearer to clarity – Immanence is a word that defies interpretation. There is something spiritual in ethereal images of nature and the one, for me, that captures that so perfectly is the single Ginkgo leaf suspended in space. When we moved two years ago we left behind a wonderful sentinel Ginkgo that we had watched grow outside our kitchen window. My wife’s uncle had brought a seed back from a trip to Japan and had grown the tree and presented it to us when it was a foot high. It was something very special, particularly in Autumn when the ground was carpetted in rich golden leaves. It’s one of the things I really miss. When we left it was as tall as the house.

    • Oh, I am delighted with that story. It’s probably my favorite tree of all, and has been since I was about 19 years old and began to see them in NYC. Then I found out their history and loved them even more, and I’ve sought them out ever since. It must have been very hard to leave that tree! And they’re not THAT fast growing so I guess you were in the house a long time. What a treasure – for your wife’s uncle to have brought back a seed and grown it on, then given it to you, and for you to watch it all those autumns (and springs & summers)! Sigh…

  9. Oh dear, I’m afraid you’ve lost me on the immanence thing, Lynn! But you have some beautiful – and very strong – photos here. Re your latest comment on my blog, you’re on a roll too! I think, probably, I’m struck by more images here than in any of your previous posts – which is saying something! OK, here goes, I really like >>> 1, 3, 4 (ohhh!), 5, 6 (ohhh!), 7, 8, 10 (ohhh!) and 12 – and the ohhhs are not twinges of rheumatism, they are great appreciation! A ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Fabulous to hear! Is it the new anti-rheumatism treatment? Well, not really. I think there’s a bit more emotion in my work lately, and a slightly different look. Maybe you’re picking up on that. Thanks so much.

      • Well, if there is more emotion in your work, just do it, just go for it!!! Follow the feelings in your heart and your guts, that can’t be a bad thing! And I’m so happy to see this morning’s election result from Alabama. A ๐Ÿ™‚

      • You make me laugh! In one breath, advice about following one’s emotions in art, in the next, concern about American politics, which I think will only get worse before it gets better, in spite of that one win.

  10. I struggled with this post, Lynn – hence the delay in commenting. I liked the photos but had difficulty with the word ‘immanence’, and the Wikipedia extract served only to confuse me further! Eventually I decided to ignore the title – it was a distraction (I was mentally trying to relate every picture to a word no-one seems able to define adequately!) I could thoroughly enjoy the images on their own terms!

    • That works, and I’m sorry I put you through that! But it seems a few people resonated to the word, so I guess it’s hit or miss. Thank you for your honesty, I do appreciate that!

  11. As soon as I saw the poem and started looking at the photos I had to go Google the word…..I just read the ‘one liner’ that came up on Google from Wikepedia:

    “Immanence refers to those philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence in which the divine encompasses or is manifested in the material world.”

    No question that you showed that in the photos…..at least for me!

    • That’s a definition that I probably should have used instead of all the dense philosophical writing – oh well! I learned for next time. In anycase, thanks for including it here. Thanks also for saying that you see the quality in the photos. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Shadows are always interesting, but they can be hard to photograph. You feel you need to increase the contrast one way or another, but that can ruin the subtlety. Something to keep working on! Thanks Denise!

  12. I had to google it, but now I understand what you mean and I can see it in your pictures. The photos said it ๐Ÿ™‚ I like them all. Again, inspiring and….touching. I am looking for another word, I can’t find right now….maybe it is the immanence.

  13. You won’t be surprised that I opened the post, admired the images, read the text, then decided to keep the tab open until I reached ‘home’ – which would be after a 7-hour drive back from the cloud forest. The image of the impaled gingko leaf stayed with me during the drive!

    Yesterday was a ‘down day’ – always a self-imposed-mandatory day of rest after a drive like that – and this morning, ahhhhh, it was so wonderful to read this post again.. and a third time to grasp the essence of the quote!

    • Those long drives – I get tired from just a few hours – your energy is admirable, Lisa. Yeah, three times is about what it takes for that to filter down, sorry about the dense text! Howard Grill, above, mentions a more straightforward definition, but I was turned on intellectually by Deleuze – you know how it is when something gets to you! Still thinking about Panama….would want to spend a few weeks maybe, to see the canal area and then the other areas – not Darien, but up near CR, the higher areas. There is so much – like in most countries. Anyway, there’s plenty of time to work out a plan. Have a good weekend, glad you took that down day!

  14. Well, perhaps not off the rails but definitely deeper than the norm Lynn! When I saw your title I thought you’d mis-spelled the word and I enjoyed learning otherwise. That said, I’m not sure I get the meaning, which is a bit obtuse, but I did love the photos, especially the rain chain and the impaled leaf.

    • Thank you, Tina, I know, really dense reading, which we don’t need right now when we’re inundated with crazy news and holiday preparations. In any case, thanks for commenting and I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

  15. I was surprised that the concept of immanence seemed foreign to some. In Christian faith it’s quite familiar, and is paired with transcendence. The qualities live in tension: perfect for someone like me who sees the important things in life as both/as rather than as either/or. Immanence alone can lead to pantheism; transcendence alone suggests a Deus Ex Machina. I suppose that’s part of the reason I was uncomfortable with Deleuze’s theory. He seems to want to subsume everything in that featureless plane. Beyond that, the very phrase “impersonal, indefinite life” set my teeth on edge. But that’s just me.

    It is interesting that some theologians and philosphers of religion have begun examining a new concept they’ve termed “pan-entheism.” Rather than pantheism (the world is god) it posits God as present in all of nature. This always has been implicit in the Judeo-Christian traditions, but concerns focused on ecology, conservation, and the natural world generally are bringing new thoughts it to the fore.

    This is a great post for the season, since Christmas is primarily a celebration of immanence. One of the most well-known hymns makes that clear: the “Emmanuel” of “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel” is derived from the Greek form of the Hebrew Immanu’el. which literally means “God is with us,” and the word immanent itself is rooted in the Latin for “to dwell in.”

    This seems to be pretty far afield from what your French philospher was trying to say, but no matter. It was interesting to ponder, and in the end, your wonderful photos seem to be perfect representations of an immanence which is far more than a pure plane.

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  17. I got lost on that whole Wikipedia definition of Immanence, but I think your photos define it more than the words. I adore the first three photos: the rain chain, the bamboo pole, and the Madrone tree. I also love the Ginkgo leaf that looks like it’s floating in air. I love the idea of a theme like this, even if the word is a challenge. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I know, the definition that a reader supplied, above, is much easier to understand, but I suspect you have intuited the idea, with the help of the photos. I should do more of these – thank you for the encouragement, Cathy!

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