Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

From the long overdue (re)readings (XII)

On a cloudless night, looking upwards, you experience a sudden flipped vertigo, the sensation that your feet might latch off from the earth and you might plummet upwards into space. Star-gazing gives us access to orders of events, and scales of time and space, which are beyond our capacity to imagine: it is unsurprising that dreams of humility and reverence have been directed towards the moon and stars for as long as human culture has recorded itself.
Our disenchantment of the night through artificial lighting may appear, if it is noticed at all, as a regrettable but eventually trivial side-effect of contemporary life. That winter hour, though, up on the summit ridge with the stars falling plainly far above, it seemed to me that our estrangement from the dark was a great and serious loss. We are, as a species, finding it increasingly hard to imagine that we are part of something which is larger than our own capacity. We have come to accept a heresy of aloofness, a humanist belief in human difference, and we suppress wherever possible the checks and balances on us — the reminders that the world is greater than us or that we are contained within it. On almost every front, we have begun a turning away from a felt relationship with the natural world.

— Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places. NY: Penguin, 2007. 202-03.