“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Darkness can mean a lot of things. The immediate association is often with sadness, depression and danger. We are afraid of darkness. Particularly in the forest when it is getting dark we don’t want to be there. Perhaps this is our instinct from ancient times. We are not trained to survive in the dark. Newt in “Aliens” says: We‘d better get back ’cause it’ll be dark soon and they mostly come at night.
Indeed we are most vulnerable in darkness. We can’t see. But they can see us. The Forest Dark is no exception. In my story night means danger. But there is more about darkness. It can mean many things. As the philosopher says, there are many things to discover in the darkness. He might refer on the Dionysian side of existence, which is associated with chaos and the unknown but also creativity.
The forest is the perfect representation of both the bright (the Apollonian) side and the dark and dangerous (the Dionysian) side of reality. There are purity and innocence when we look at the trees and hear the birds. But darkness is never far away. The forest is a world full of secrets.
The Dionysian view acknowledges the daemonic principle at work. Life is an essential struggle. There is agony, tragic and darkness. We see it in the struggle for survival. It suggests that we live in Purgatory. Stories and films often show us that kind of darkness in their strongest scenes: In David Lynch’s latest Twin Peaks series there is a scene in front of the dinner when Bobby Briggs tries to stop a honking woman shouting in a car after a little boy started to shoot with a gun. This is a moment where we feel that life is purgatory. It is a quiet scene which ends up in pandaemonium. It shows us a supreme reality which is full of darkness.
In the forest, there is incredible beauty and there is unparalleled cruelty – animals get eaten by insects and even fungus. The wanderer is soon in his own struggle for survival if he got lost.
The forest is the place of Dionysian rites and sacrifices. It brings up the Dionysian side of people – this is where drug parties happen and there are secrets about unspeakable things which happen in the night.
Darkness, however, should not be mistaken. Darkness can be a condition. It is a condition where there is a connection between men and unknown spiritual forces. Something dwells in thick darkness. There is always an ambiguity about darkness. Something can look at us but we can’t see its face. Something which can’t be grasped in simple terms. A mystery which can’t be explained in words. An experience which can’t be described. The experience of the unknown in darkness is also the previously mentioned black fire.