The Becoming Jewel

Blog post
Published: 11.05.2010

It’s early autumn and there are more leaves on the trees than on the ground. Crimson leaves. Vermilion leaves.  Amber leaves. Golden leaves. In a week or so there will be more on the ground.  And they will stay there. 

I used to rake up leaves. (Are jewellers control nuts?)  But in recent years I have come to delight in the glorious carpet they fling across the garden, even more sumptuously coloured than those I lugged home from Turkey.  But mutable. Friable. 

In the the mind’s eye, the archetypal tree has its leaves attached, singly or in bunches, to twigs growing from its branches; and the leaves are mostly green as they perform their task of photosynthesis. In autumn they become something else. As their sap dries, they colour, they fall, and in falling help to retain the ground warmth throughout the winter months; they decompose to nourish new growth in spring, to burgeon in summer, then fall again.  Everything is becoming.  Constantly becoming.   

Even a stone became.  And will become dust.  Slowly.

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In becoming — in its process of coming into being — the jewel incorporates aspects of the jeweller: both the garnered trove and the detritus accumulated from their lived life.  Treasure and dross are all there to be sifted through, sorted, filtered, selected or rejected: clips and snippets of understanding, knowledge, memory, experiences — real or imagined, curiosity and knowledge about shapes, surfaces, emotions, a glimpse of laughter, a tear shed, an embrace, the particular line made by a saw cut, a pattern of drilled holes, setting sun on rock, surfaces abraded or polished, twigs, petals, wrists and ankles, collar-bones, sharp corners and smooth edges, the chill of metal against skin and how it absorbs bodily warmth, what it means to make something come into being. To become

The jewel is continually in the process of becoming.  When it’s being made, it is waiting to become complete; then it waits for the acknowledgement of exposure or display, waits to be purchased, to be given, to be accepted, waits to be worn —to become jewel.  When worn it is one thing: a thing that is waiting to be taken off.  When it is taken off, it is something else: it is waiting to be put away safely, or to be put on again.  Each of these things that is done to it turns it into something else.  Makes it become something other than it was.  Makes it mutable, its becoming this or that entirely at the whim of fate, or the fate we decree for it.  Of all art forms, the jewel is unique in this respect. Mutable.  But with its treasured demeanour and diminutive durability, seldom friable. 

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Matilda sits by my computer, purring.  She knows that soon I will give her dinner.  Chicken liver.  Later, it will be time for one of her renditions: stealthy hunter of autumn leaves, wild tigress, mad-cat, puss-in-boots, freaked-out-fuzz-ball, cat being chased by a pack of hounds. . . cat fighting off hounds. We batten down and await her becoming . . . whatever cats decide, on a whim, to become . . .