Three Paragraphs of Light

This afternoon I could almost believe we lived in the neighborhood of a star, which of course we do – astronomically speaking – but it’s easy most days to forget it.  Today, however, I had my eyes dilated and when I stepped out of the optometrist’s office it was as if the sun’s photosphere had burned through earth’s little blanket of air and resolved the material world to an undifferentiated field of molten light.

The effect of dilation isn’t to make things appear brighter than they are but to force the eyes to see more of the light already there.  In fact, it’s always this bright – brighter.  There’s simply far more light than we are able to see.  The lid half shuts and the iris contricts to shield against the full blast.  But even dilated, the aperture lets only the slimmest beam inside.  If we were all eye we would see nothing but light.

The sun isn’t much worshiped anymore, unless by worship one means the lolling presentation of flesh on a beach or deckchair.  Sacrifices ceased long ago.  Who can say if it’s suffered by our recent neglect?  The body of the god, alive or dead, still revolves: Sol Invictus, perpetual defiance in his chariot, or the recurrent corpse of Helios still warm, still bright.

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3 Comments

Filed under Three Paragraphs

3 responses to “Three Paragraphs of Light

  1. Wonderful, Ian. I’m reminded of Dawkins’ discussion of “the ultraviolet garden,” i.e., the one that bees see, but which we can’t. And now, lo, I find that his lecture on that theme (& others related to it) is now on the web:

    And I’m reminded also of Andrew Marvell’s old line, in “A Dialogue Between Body and Soul,” to the effect that the soul is “blinded by eyes,” and “manacled by hands,” etc. He sets it all up in a Christian context, of course. But it is good to bear in mind how little we see, hear, and smell. Call it the price for being a successful species.

    As to Sun worship, well, now He is fairly shunned: SPF 40, & more. I wish American politics had some such compound to protect itself from certain other extremist forms of worship that displaced the Sun w/ His Homonym.

    And then hard upon that (perhaps uncharitable) thought comes a memory of a friend’s “anti-heliotropic” theory of behavior of people at the rowdier sort of party: everyone gathers in the room least well lit.

    Best, Mark

    • Ian Wolcott

      I like the anti-heliotropic hypothesis, Mark. I’ll have to test that. Of course, I never go to parties anymore, so I may have to wait awhile.

  2. This reminds me of Borges’ character Funes, who has perfect senses (they filter nothing out) and perfect memory. He’s also paralyzed, and can’t make abstract thought.

    “The truth is we live by leaving behind.” We need to forget, to see imperfectly, to filter and fictionalize the world in order to have a meaningful experience.

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