What Is Found in a Liminal Space?

This prolonged heat spell is making me feel as if I am in a liminal state. Between living and dead. Even in the air conditioning I feel drained and sweaty and as if my body continues to swell. What if it never stops and just gets larger and larger?

Liminality is a positive place to be if you are open-minded and ready, but it can lead to negative consequences. The photo is from a HuffPo article about the green tunnel in the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens in Northumberland. Click on the photo, and it will lead you to the article. Needless to say, there are poisonous plants in the poison garden, so you have to be open-minded to the experience and prepared.

United Kingdom, England, Northumberland, Alnwick, The Alnwick Garden, The Poison Garden, Tunnel. (Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

United Kingdom, England, Northumberland, Alnwick, The Alnwick Garden, The Poison Garden, Tunnel. (Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

I’ve never been to this garden before, so I can’t help but wonder how animals and birds are protected from so much poison in one place.  Maybe most of them know better, but they don’t all know better.

Back to the heat: I haven’t been working on the play.  I can hardly get the bare minimum of work-work accomplished.

The good news is that Slupe is out and roaming with all the cats, but she paces around restlessly and doesn’t lie down unless she is hanging around the periphery of where the other cats congregate. She is in a liminal space, I guess, waiting to become a full-fledged resident and adopted from the shelter (instead of a foster cat).

Here she is hanging out in the cupboard with my computer printer. Her thought bubble: I hope nobody knows I’m in here. I’m in my liminal space.

Actually Slupe’s liminal space is stressful, not just magical. But maybe there is some anxiety associated with all liminal spaces. What do you think?

On the subject of liminality, I found something I theorized about liminality and poetry when I was up on subjects like liminal space (this was before I had cats):

When a poem is written, creative identity is performed by the poet.  This performance always exists in the liminal phase.  Imagine a two-dimensional diagram with a point on the left signifying the familiar everyday experience and a point on the right signifying the familiar everyday experience.  The straight line connecting the two points is the liminal passage or threshold in which all is unfamiliar.  Importantly, the diagram is not circular because the two familiar points are not the same point.  The threshold allows the individual to adjust to the new point of familiarity.

Every poem is written somewhere along that line between the familiar points and exists in liminality in a relation to one or both of the points.  Some poems may be performed by the poets more in the center of the line, thus farthest away from the points of familiarity–others may be much closer to the familiar.  Therefore, from the standpoint of the writer, all poems are liminal, although some are more so than others.

And not just for writers, but for readers, too. What I like about this is how I discovered through studying liminal spaces and anthropology that poetry exists in a liminal space. That’s why it’s so special. When we read a poem we get to visit a liminal space, full of anxiety and magic.

And now back to cat patrol. It’s time for all five of them to eat. Odds are, out of five, somebody is going to throw up their food with or without a hairball. There’s nothing liminal about cat puke.


Filed under Arizona, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Liminality, Poetry, Writing

51 responses to “What Is Found in a Liminal Space?

  1. Good to hear the Shupe is coming out to be with the other cats. By mistake I got the wrong brand cat food and my cat Mollie has reverted to her barfing self. She needs grain free and favors the Rachel Ray brand over others. I am going to retreat to my liminality!

    • Oh no! Where do you get Rachel Ray? I haven’t heard of that one. currently mine are on Purina’s new Beyond. It’s grain free and they like it ok. That’s the thing is finding one they will like for more than 2 days. Maybe trying a new cat food IS your liminality!

      • I used Beyond but I bought a flavor they didn’t like, they played with it rather than ate it. RR is harder to find here but it’s in grocery stores rather than pet stores. There are two versions. One is grain free the other is not but is still a good food. I am using Beyond right now (by mistake). It don’t think it’s the grain free version and Mollie is puking again. Almost daily.

        • Oh poor Mollie. I didn’t know they had a grain free version. When I was putting Mac on that stringent anti-diabetes diet, I was buying such expensive all meat foods. After he died nobody wanted to eat them. By the way, Tuesday was the one year anniversary of his passing. About the puking, it’s not allergies, right? For some reason Kana is allergic to wet food. She can only eat kibble and ZD canned, which is a hypo-allergenic fake food, prescription only. I tried all the weird stuff like duck and who knows what else to rule out chicken, fish, beef allergies. But it’s not the type of meat, it’s the wet food. My vet said that some cats are like that. Ugh. On a positive note, I just took Slupe to the shelter vet, and she’s healthy and got her wicked nails cut and didn’t freak out!

          • Mollie won’t eat wet food. Only dry RR.

            • Oh, Mollie. Gosh, you are a pain like Pear. Pear only wants kibble. Slupe only wants canned. I can’t keep up with it!

              • I know. Hazel is always on a diet so everyone else gets their food where she can’t reach it. Morgan isn’t always in the mood for food and mostly eats dry. She likes to eat when she wants. It’s a real zoo at feeding time.

              • I am still lucky where Slupe wants to eat in her bedroom instead of with the rest. When she eats out with the others, I might need an assistant feeder to help out ;).

  2. Pingback: What Is Found in a Liminal Space? — Writer Site – beautiful909

  3. I don’t know, Luanne, Shupe’s space looks pretty good to me right now…as long as I have a book too. I’m happy to hear he’s adjusting. 🙂

    • She’s doing pretty darn good. We had a storm last night and when I opened her door to check on her (she is in her room from late afternoon til morning because she needs the time away from others ;)) she bolted from the room, scared of the thunder and lightning.

  4. Animals are often afraid of strange noises. My dog was upset yesterday by a neighbour’s power washing. It was loud and unusual, so worrisome to the dog. And thunder is probably the worst!

  5. Okay, Luanne, you win best blog today with your thoughts on liminality which is, btw, something I had never even heard of. But, thanks to you, I now have an excuse whenever anyone asks me what I’m working on these summer days. Instead of my usual “not too much,” I can now say I am working on overcoming liminality. Bless you. And may we both find our way back soon. 🙂

  6. Love these thoughts about liminality, Luanne, and I was discussing it with a cousin of mine who majored in anthropology. Good portion about poetry being in that kind of space. Always love hearing about the family of gorgeous cats. Wishing you all a great day. Here in Washington it is overcast and cool, though our first day here it was pretty warm (not like So Cal was before we left).

    • Carla, that passage is from my dissertation. Can you believe I didn’t even have any cats in those days? We had Oliver and then Sandy. Muffin passed away, unfortunately, within six months of us moving to California :(. Enjoy that Washington weather! It sounds so lovely. Love to you and Dave and wishing the best for all your family.

      • Wondering if you have time to do a guest blog post using that liminality theme? Would love to feature it on my blog, as it is so interesting and thought-provoking. No pressure.

  7. Poetry and puke! This post has it all!

  8. Loved this..
    And I guess this concept of liminal space is as fresh and appealing as it would be to read and write in liminal space.

  9. First of all, I have to say, I’m impressed by Slupe’s vocabulary. 🙂
    I’m sorry about the heat. It must be very draining. I feel wiped out when we have heat for a few days. A/C is running here, too.
    I’m in a liminal space, as well–the must get work done, but can’t get myself to work space. UGH.
    I thought your poetry and liminal space theorizing was interesting. And what is really weird is that though I have no spatial sense, my brain insisted on making your 2D diagram of points into a 3D space, void, whatever it would be. Maybe it was the word “space,” but I see a sort of universe of possibilities.
    It also made me think of the connection to theater (maybe your use of the word “performed”–am I that hyper-sensitive to words?). When my daughter was a college senior, two of her friends did a dance/theater senior project that explored space in different ways. There’s a name for this type of theater exercise that I don’t remember. I’ll have to ask her. 🙂

    My cats think it’s time for dinner now.

  10. Slupe looks very snug, Luanne. Maybe she is just trying to escape the heat or those tropical storms that come with it. It’s still cool here and I’m loving it! 😉

    • She’s really adorable. She went to the vet today for a checkup (shelter vet–she’s still a foster), and he said she definitely can stay with me ;). Our temperature went down to 91 because of a storm last night and maybe another brewing, but it’s now all sticky and ucky still.

  11. I was thinking about liminal space today when I was heading to work, the lobby, the stairwell, the corridor — all places you can stop and text, or tug at your pants — they’re important spaces 🙂

  12. My liminal space is waiting for warmer weather sitting by the fire, no kids awake, endless possibilities of what I could be doing with this space and time. Not much happens but i enjoy the nothingness and staring into the fire. I wonder where people pull the words for poetry sometimes? From some realm deep within their own creative place. All so unique, as is your new cat Luanne.

    • I think the words do come from a place that isn’t easily accessible. It’s where a lot of feelings, thoughts, and knowledge congregates with the poet knowing it’s there!!! Yes, isn’t Slupe adorable?! Have a lovely weekend, Kath!

  13. Slupe is a sweetheart (as all in your cute “family” of cats)!
    I wish I could just follow you around, take notes and work on my blogging, while possibly sharing small snippets of thoughts, Luanne.
    I cannot imagine all the poisonous plants in one location. . . wonder if breathing the surrounding air has any potential danger?
    My first morning away from work on vacation with my Mom! Shh-h! If she wakes up, it will be awhile till I can blog again! 😉
    Hugs and wishing a happy holiday weekend, to you and hubby. <3

    • Shhhh!!! I bet she’s awake by now ;). It’s already late afternoon by you. Hope your holiday weekend is all you dream of, Robin! xoxo

  14. I never knew about liminal space, and yet it makes so much sense! I think I live liminally most of the time. :-0
    GREAT post. Stay cool.

  15. Luanne, I’ve never heard of that poison garden! Northumberland is way north of us and I never go there, no family there and no reason to, but I know it’s a great place to visit for many reasons. My daughter would love it lol! And I love Slupe’s liminal space. I would like to be there right about now, ha! I’ve just signed off my blog until September to take care of family ‘stuff’ behind the scenes and finish my memoir, so I’ll miss you until I get back. I hope the heat doesn’t get you too down…I remember it well and it’s rough, but I hope you have a good summer xoxo

    • You will have to visit it with your daughter ;)! I will miss you through the summer. Don’t forget to come back! I understand the need to take a break. I think I spend so much time blogging and that some of it needs to go to writing and to work, etc. I might have to switch to once a week . . . . Have a wonderful summer, Sherri! xo

      • Aww…don’t worry Luanne, I won’t! I’ll miss you too 🙁 I’m going to have to rethink my writing/blogging strategy when I get back so I can do both. No idea how yet!! You too my friend, have a wonderful summer. Big hugs and see you soon! 🙂 xoxo

  16. Oh, I love this: “There’s nothing liminal about cat puke.” How true that is!!! Slupe is such a cutie. We were at the vet’s the other day and there was an orange-and-white kitten that my husband had to point out. Fortunately, we were leaving so I just kept pushing him toward the door 😉 There are times when I think of bringing another cat into the household, but our three have finally settled on co-existing (for the most part, Maxine still believes she should be the only kitty in residence). I’d hate to upset the balance yet again …

    • Uh oh, maybe you better call and see if the kitty is still there! (hehehe)Yes, I understand. I don’t even want to talk too much about how Slupe is doing because I don’t want to jinx anything . . . .

  17. Well imagine my surprise when I saw a picture of the Alnwick Garden on your blog Luanne – it’s only about 2 hours up the road from where I live and I have indeed walked through that tunnel and visited the poison garden! I’m loving your musings on liminality – the piece about the line between the familiar reminds me of something I just read from Margaret Atwood about who it is that actually writes – the differentiation between person and writer – another liminal space 🙂

    • I’m so jealous! The thought of it is so creepy and wonderful!
      Interesting about seeing that as a liminal space. Now my mind is racing after that, trying to absorb it . . . .

  18. Great post!
    Please read my latest blog post! Thank you! 🙂

  19. Awwww What’s found in a liminal space? A CAT <3 and right when I spoke this aloud, my cat meowed from his perch on my back.

    • Haha, of course he did. They are just conceited enough that when you say cat or anything related to cat they respond with a “Yes, of course, CAT.”

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