Feeling a bit lost on this meandering path called life? Need to discover your ultimate purpose and feel at peace with yourself? Perhaps you ought to venture to County Wicklow, Ireland, and look at a statue of a man screaming in agony as he cuts his own head in half.
The Split Man is one of the sculptures at Victoria's Way, a garden built to induce self-reflection. Creator Victor Langheld established the park in 1989 after traveling to India in search of spiritual enlightenment. He describes it thusly on his website:
Victoria's Way was designed as a contemplative space to be used by individuals (i.e. single wanderers) between about 28 to 60 years of age who feel the need to assess the quality and direction of their lives. It's a sort of mid-life (-crisis) self-reassessment and self-reorientation pilgrimage.
The process of rebirth begins at the gate — to enter the park, you walk through a large black granite vagina dentata guarded by a stone snake. Then it is time to confront the seven forest sculptures that will lead you from pain and confusion to self-actualization.
First up is the Birth of the Ferryman, a sculpture of a child being born from a giant, rotting human fist. Then comes When One Becomes Two, a large-breasted woman with a scaly tail for a right leg who laughs maniacally as she clutches at a young girl. The Split Man is next — he represents the self-destruction that results from failing to commit oneself to a life goal — followed by Dark Night of the Soul, an emaciated Buddha in the lotus position.
A giant finger sticks up from the ground at the next contemplation stop. "Create or die" is painted on the fingernail. Whether it is intended to be a middle finger is open to interpretation, but there is a feeling of defiance regardless.
Two sculptures remain: the Nirvana Man, a calm character who sits on a ledge with his eyes closed, and the Ferryman's End, which rivals the Split Man in the disturbing stakes. (The Ferryman, a cadaverous old fellow, sits half-submerged in a green-tinged lake, crying out as his boat slowly sinks.)
If all goes according to plan, you ought to be self-actualized now. As a reward, take a moment to admire Victoria Way's Ganesh statues, carved by Indian sculptor T. Baskaran. The elephant-headed Hindu god is depicted dancing, reading, reclining, and playing musical instruments.
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