Consider how the container is built in Anne Carson’s translations of Sappho in If Not, Winter. Like the Pyramid texts, we have but fragments of the originals, but Carson has chosen to contain those absences:
and this [
ruinous god [
I swear did not love [
but now because [
and the reason neither [
nothing much [
The absent words are celebrated. These simple square brackets call us inward to honour what cannot be known or controlled. Control is re-contextualized and the words which remain evoke the myriad possibilities which arise in our own imaginations to fill the spaces with our selves. And subsequently, a dormant desire to travel back in time and communicate with Sappho.
In all ritual we fundamentally need these elements: the lineage (or ancestor), the form (or container) and the absence (mystery). And implicit in it all, our ability to long for what cannot be known, but can (and must) be attended to.