Light and Shadows

Perhaps my favorite interstice is the essay on light and shadow.  Mostly because shadows seem such insignificant and yet overpowering testimonies to the presence of reality.  Casting a shadow guarantees my reality, my real presence.  In Richard Strauss’ lush and beautiful opera Die Frau Ohne Schatten the lead character sells her shadow, thereby brining about her inability to have a child, to make a lasting difference in the world.  Yes, it is a mythic claim and perhaps it sounds silly in this age where we see children as a choice, an option.  But in an ancient society where humans were scarce, a child was the gift of the future.

Pindar, the Roman poet, described a man as “the dream of a shadow” and a lovely column in the New York Times used his evocative phrase to introduce a short film of shadow images walking on the pavement.

Maauley’s essay takes us from scientific definitions of the umbra/penumbra, the role of light in life from photosynthesis to establishing our circadian rhythms. Here are some images to identify.  See if you can find his references in the essay.

Visit the page dedicated to the shadow.

And for Lindsey Sterling’s work:

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One day during my nineth grade year, My team and I had a football game during late november. Besides the weather, it was an average regular season game. However, the weather changed all of that. Though we had all of our pads and gear on, the hail still played a role on the outcome of the game. I played wide reciever back then, and though I ran patterns to catch and run the football, the running didn’t hold back the pain of the hail. It took the referees twenty minutes during this hail storm to call the game, since even the crowd watching the game had to retreat to their vehicles.

This storm, as well as snow storms, may be a beautiful sight to behold, but their ultimate outcome can restrict roadways, cancel events, and slow down people from living their daily lives. These latter outcomes are the reason why I don’t prefer winter over the other seasons, even though the holidays and vacation breaks do tempt me. These elements also produce blistering and harsh cold temperatures, where as I’d rather be in the heat of the summer sweating, letting the cooling breeze balance my body temperature.

In David Macauleys’ Elemental Philosophy, He dedicates an interstice to the elements of ice and snow. Though he did offer many interesting and mind blowing ideas about the two elements, two topics caught my attention the most. In the beginning of the interstice, Macauley claims how both strong and weak ice can be at the same time. He insists that ice “is rock solid but slipping easily into liquidity” and that ice “can support the weight of a C-SA transport plane, but a child hopping on one leg can break through it.” This idea reminds me of how even though I can break an ice cube with one bite, I can still skate around a pond frozen to ice without breaking open the surface of the pond. The other idea that even reminded me of a song is how music has been written throughout history to suggest that ice “possesses a melodic, moody or melancholic voice”. This voice of ice can not only be found in regular music, but music in all forms of media, including films, video games, and television shows.

mario ice level

This is a photo of an icy level in the video game Super Mario 64. In this level, you have to maintain balance on top of icy and slippery surfaces while you fight off different ice-themed enemies. The designers of this level make a successful attempt to show how even though ice can make an area look calm and beautiful, it can also bring hardships and obstacles that ultimately slow you down.

The song that I previously mentioned is called Snowblind by the band System of a Down. In this song, they relate ice and snow to death, and how the sheer cold of these two elements can ultimately end one’s life. However, the song has a happy and content tone to it, in which the person prtrayed in the song almost welcomes the coldness, which shows how he’d rather die and see the beauty of the snow. The lines “Death would freeze my very soul, Makes me happy, makes me cold” and “Fill my dreams with flakes of snow, Soon I’ll feel the chilling glow” show how this person is “blind” to how dangerous “snow” can be, yet welcomes his death of everlasting coldness. Personally, this is why I think the song is called “Snowblind” even though the term snowblind relates to a whole other idea in itself.

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Opposite and The Same

Ice is so interesting to me for the reason that its connotations and qualities are paradoxical. Ice can symbolize death, evil, and cold-heartedness, yet it can also symbolize preservation of life and beauty. Also, its qualities are paradoxical. Ice, as McCauley says, is fragile, yet strong at the same time.

When I first think of ice, I think of the movie The Chronicles of Narnia. The antagonist, the White Witch, is associated with ice throughout the movie. She is able to freeze other animals and people and take their breath away from them. This evil character brought a negative connotation with ice and made ice seem cold and cruel. However, in other movies such as Frozen, ice is depicted as something fun. The girls build a happy snowman, Olaf, and enjoy playing in the ice and snow. Even the castle Elsa creates is beautiful as it glistens. Although the ice turned into a burden because it became uncontrollable, it had positive connotations that went along with it as well.

Elsa's castle

Elsa’s castle

The qualities of ice are paradoxical, too. A snowflake or a small icicle is so delicate and fragile. Even a thin layer of ice floating on a lake is fragile. McCauley mentions how easy it is for a child to break the ice by simply hopping on it. On the other hand, ice is strong and dangerous. When I think of the strength of ice I think of avalanches, blizzards, and huge glaciers. It is amazing how one glacier was able to essentially sink an entire ship.

This picture shows how strong snow and ice can be. It is able to bend trees or completely take them down.

This picture shows how strong snow and ice can be. It is able to bend trees or completely take them down.

Notice how delicate the snowflake looks and how intricate its details are.

Notice how delicate the snowflake looks and how intricate its details are.

Ice is strong, yet delicate, and deathly, yet beautiful. It can sink ships and take down trees in a blizzard, or it can disappear the second the snowflake touches your finger tip. It can be seen as cruel and cold, or it can also bring about joy and beauty. I have never come into contact with something so paradoxical before. It makes me think about what else there is in this world that has a different connotation or quality that I have never considered. Maybe sunshine doesn’t always bring happiness, or maybe rainy days aren’t always so dreary. This world and its elements are complex; we just have to be aware enough to notice it.


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