Alexander Wilson's Slough Blurb:

Spelled S-L-O-U-G-H

Slough. The utterance, whether pronounced as Sluff or Slew is summoned from a deep place, then slurred on the way out. Meanings, too, may slur and skew, and slide into a miry slough (slew), but we must slough (sluff) off the imprecision of this sodden bog we slog through and dredge from words the best thatís to be found in them. (We will not here even consider the British town that rhymes with cow.)

Though separately derived, the S-L-O-U-G-H words are united in their counterintuitive relationship of spelling to pronunciation, and often cause a momentís disconnect between eye and tongue when encountered on the page. In meaning they may also seem at odds, for the Slough of slop and bog, of unnavigable backwaters, has metastasized into a metaphor of hopelessness, but in that other Slough which means the shedding of the skin Hope itself may yet be exposed.

The Sloughing Snake is a primeval symbol of the self-regenerative capacity of Life, born of some Force that driven forth from its ineffable Source emanates from Within and passes outward until at its rough Limit it dissipates in shards of Slough, even as the original impetus reappears from underneath in fresh new skin, and so on, and so onÖ The Thing That Continually Emerges From Itself, persisting through time in successive rinds that blend in the eye and in the mind like separate frames of film parlayed into a unity of manifestation.

That is what happened in the Beginning, and continues to happen, to the Universe as a whole and in its individual entities, like us. Most of household dust is human skin sloughed off. It is perhaps just as well that we donít drop our entire skin all at once like the snake; else weíd have to endure our childhood sloughs, stuffed, gathering dust on motherís mantle. But one piece or particulate, the principle remains the same, and we must confess to Sloughing as much as any serpent. There is no shame therein, and itís time to do away with cosmetic euphemisms like ďexfoliation.Ē In fact, by focusing on Slough in a properly contemplative manner we may fashion a conception that integrates a metaphorical understanding of Creation with a literal description of our own ongoing, though ever abrading, condition in the world. This strain of thought amounts to a sort of postmodern Hermeticism with the goal of creating a living image of Time and Being, under the implicit assumption that such a thing must prove salving to the soul, if not salvific.

Such an appreciation of Slough participates in the new millenniumís greening of consciousness, replacing the mechanistic with the living; the Big Bang becomes the Big Birth, and Hope inheres in Lifeís reSOURCEful tenacity, even in the face of its own obtuseness, as where we experience it, here at the very Sloughing edge of deity, the ever moving, ever shredding, ever living Limit of what Is.

Likewise, and to fulfill the promise of the pun, this mode of thought comes to the rescue of the other Slough, saving the swamp from Bunyanís slander, revealing the supposedly fetid fenís true identity as that of the vivacious wetland, a focal point of deposition and reconstitution now recognized as the essence of healthy recycling and growth rather than the entropic cesspool of cessation; a Slough not of Despond, but Respond.

So we have a choice. We stand amid the dust of our own flesh; if our necessary dissolution pains us, we may shed tears that falling on our castoff Slough will mix into a sludgy Slough that we can hardly struggle through. But if we chose to shrug our dust off and focus on the newborn skin risen from within, then we may find Hope, the hope that we will finally learn that there is only one true Word, which we may learn to speak, even should it clog our mouths with a slew of meanings.

- bill 5-30-2009 3:20 pm

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