Night

Night: an element of air, of water, of earth, the antithesis of fire?  Macauley’s chapter invites the reader to consider the daily cycling through darkness as more than a simple turn of the planet away from the sun.

Identify the images below as they are referenced in the text.

The Hurricane Sandy disaster that hit Long Island on October 29th, 2012 plunged most of us in darkness, a darkness even more overwhelming given the time of year as each day was shorter, each night longer.  Without the comfort and warmth of power, we huddled around candles, flashlights, fireplaces (those lucky one).  Alas the cloud covered skies deprived us of that chance to see the night sky revealed as so beautifully described by Diane Ackerman.  Now, a bit over a year later, we still remember those dark days.  As we move beyond the time change and night comes all that sooner in our afternoon hours, what does night mean for us in a world of “light pollution?”

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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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Heat and Cold

“Between the melting and the freezing, the soul sap quivers.”  T. S. Elliot, as quoted in Macauley on p. 207.

Heat and cold, while relative experiences of molecular movements and atmospheric states, are an intimate part of our every moment.  We all know how cold some of the  classrooms can be here. And perhaps a scant three months ago you might have been complaining in the sweltering heat.  We people who live in temperate climes love the middle states: spring with its welcome warming and autumn with its cooling breezes and crisp clear nights.  But what of our fellow humans and mammals that live in extremes?  What is life like in the tropics?  In the far northern (or southern?) extremes of the planet?

Gretel Erhlich, a writer and novelist, has explored living in northern Greenland.

How many associations can you think of or find for the terms of heat and cold?  Consider the following links as suggestions:

yoga,  Heraclitus,  Innuit world,  technology,  foods,  McCluhan,  Emerson,  Greek physicians,  colors, moods.  Others?

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