Author: Joseph Nechvatal --- Date: 4/23/97 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

Newgrange As Immersive Experience

Reflections on the Experience

A Commentary

by Joseph Nechvatal

It was a consequential experience to me, as being inside Newgrange I discovered an antediluvian region of the human mind which contains principles of the bliss of sexual union, of scientific discovery, of artistic creation, of physical conquest, and of mental expansion and of death. Its immersive consciousness was one of inexhaustible intensity, in fact I cannot withdraw from its prehistoric immersive circle, for once experienced, it is as much within as without and it has become subjective as well as objective to me.

Newgrange has been originally built about 3100 BC. It consists of a vast stone and turf mound about 85m (280ft) in diameter and 13,5m (44ft) high, containing a passage leading to a burial chamber. Outside the base, 12 out of the original estimated 38 large boulders up to 2.4m (8ft) high form a ring of about 104m (340ft) in diameter. The stone circle was built about 1000 years later than the original structure, dating probably from the Beaker period. This ring of stones is almost unique in Great Britain and Ireland, with Clava and maybe Loanhead of Daviot being the other notable exemples.

The base of the mound is retained by no less than 97 large stones, lying horizontally, many of which bear beautifully carved designs of spiral, lozenge, zigzag and other symbols. The most famous of these is the stone marking the entrance, with carvings of a triple spiral, double spirals, concentric semi-circles and lozenges similar to those found in Brittany (France), at Gavrinis.

Above the entrance passage is a 'roof-box', which precisely aligns wit the rising sun at the winter solstice of 21 December, so that the rays touch the ground at the very centre of the tomb for about 20 minutes. Many of the upright stones along the walls of the 19m (62ft) passage, which follows the rise of the hill, are richly decorated. The cruciform chamber inside the mound measures 6.5 x 6.2m (21ft 6in x17ft), has three recesses and is roofed by a magnificent corbelled roof reaching to a height of 6m (20ft) above the floor. In the recesses there arethree massive stone basins which presumably had some ritual use. Excavations in the central chamber produced the remains of two burials and at least three cremated bodies as well as seven marbles, four pendants, two beads, a flint flake, a bone chisel and fragments of several bone pins and points.

As at Knowth, some satellite tombs have been found outside the edge of the mound: one of which lies to the East and another to the West of the entrance. Cement posts now mark out what was once a double circle of wooden pillars, enclosing Beaker cremation pits.

Newgrange gets its modern name from the fact that by 1142, the site had become part of Mellifont Abbey farm. These farms were known as granges and by 14th century the site was known only as the 'New Grange'. In early Irish mythology, Newgrange was not only the alleged burial place of the prehistoric kings of Tara, but also the home of a race of Irish supernatural beings, known as 'Tuatha de Danainn': the people of the goddess Danu. Newgrange was also taken to be the house of the patriarchal god Dagda

The power of the experience lay in its ability to provide me with a prehistoric consciousness of presence in becoming and in dying. It was not a conventional symbolic fulfillment however, as Newgrange's immersive space helped further to reveal the existence of my own extended and encircling technologically immersive consciousness. Newgrange revealed to me the greatness and glory of life by its super-conscient attributes, as it made me cognizance of the orb in which the one and many give and take as a whole.

Nature is really sublime and beautiful because it is not only nature, it is immersive nourishment. Newgrange represented in its integrity the immersive harmony and immersive consciousness of humanity in nature. I suspect Nature is becoming for me beautiful in so far as it is the expression of immersive consciousness because for me an appreciation of Newgrange draws no distinction between beauty of art and the beauty of nature and the beauty of woman. A woman's body, appearance, actions, may be beautiful in so far as they are indicative of meaning and expression and Newgrange is beautiful in that it is indicative of the underlying meaning of being.

Newgrange looks upon art as that of reproductive Nature and as such Newgrange is conceived as splendor consciousness and is dynamic in its approbation. Newgrange's magnificence is the dynamism of sex and life and spirit and death and since Newgrange's opulence is absorbing and compressing it frees being from the touches of horror and introduces it into pathos. In this exhalted height of existence, presence feels an unaccustomed attraction, a new delight in the wide expression of vivacity, not through nature but through Newgrange's consciousness of immersive existence itself as it impresses us with its absorbing sense of transport, resplendent merger and supple affirmation which are characteristics of Newgrange's immersive art-as-life-as-sex-as-death consciousness.

Joseph Nechvatal

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Trish --

What a beautiful piece of writing! I can't wait to get there. Any ideas on accommodations and transportation as I won't be renting a car? I'm arriving 6/20. Many thanks in anticipation of your reply. rish