Friday, October 12, 2012

Star struck

Wendell Berry was right...anyone who thinks they can live in two places lives in neither.

Tonight the Milky Way stretches across a sky lit up by at least a thousand stars. A hundred and fifty miles north of here, in Bloomfield, the Milky Way is a paragraph in a textbook, and nothing more than that.

I live in both universes, the one with stars, and the one without. One with tidal flats, one with concrete. One with surreal moments under the sea, the other chasing the #34 bus.

Something as simple as that, the presence of stars, affects how I see the world, which means it profoundly affects who I am.

I forget this every day. Every day.

Words remind me, of course, but they ultimately fail.

If you trust words more than the sky, you may be human, but you will not be alive. If I have to choose between them, give me the night sky. Howling at the moon is wisdom enough.

Here's the trade we make--electric lights for an October night sky.  We lose.


John Spencer said...

I can hardly see the stars where I live. We're more afraid of the dark (and the boogie man) than we are of not seeing stars and so in this suburban sea of light, the stars become obscenely manageable. It's a sin, I think (Good God, I've been using too much religious language) to shrink the universe and amplify the suburbs. Man, I miss the stars. Might just have to take the kids up north a few hours and let them see the universe for awhile.

Lee said...

Remember when we could see the Milky Way as kids? Here in NE PA it's visible most nights (was looking at it just about an hour ago :). John is right saying peoplehave become afraid of the dark. When people move here from "the city" many want the towns to install street lights!! The other morning while walking the dogs in the dark there was something "man-sized" walking down the road towards us. My initial reaction was fear...that it might be a man... turned out it was a very large 8-point buck. I would rather meet up with a four legged creature under the stars than the two-legged variety; Give me the stars any day of the week
Electricity is highly overrated.

Jeffrey Michals-Brown said...

Reminds me of a related problem: intense human narcissism. In most people's minds, we are the center of the universe as surely today as when the sun--and the heavenly spheres even including the stars themselves--revolved around the earth. My mother divides insects, bacteria, etc., into the fundamental categories "good" and "bad." Biology texts (until recently) divided Life into prokaryotes, protists, plants, fungi and animals, rather than Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukaryotes; and the animal kingdom into vertebrates (about one phylum) and invertebrates (twenty or thirty other phyla). Our biology course spends the first half of the year on the basics, with a VERY brief foray into the diversity of life, and the entire second half on human biology. Loggers judge the survival of their jobs more important than the survival of an entire species. Economists consider it adequate that we use only 2/3 of the earth's resources, and leave an entire third for the other 10-million-odd species on the planet.