Monday, November 5, 2012

the sun when it rises



Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? 
saying, matter, discords, rounds, figure

Well, me for one.  I was spinning.  Or maybe I was showering. The sun rose when I wasn't looking, when I wasn't looking for it, because I don't need its light to get on with my day.  To tell the truth, the sun then set alone some hours later  -- again without my notice.

Sadly, Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? is a rhetorical that has lost its kick since John Donne asked it in 1623.  More apt to ask -- Who will even lift an eye to notice the sun at all?  Here in my town, on the fogged-over edge of the world, we are all so much more lighthearted when the sun shines that you'd think we'd stand each morning ready to herald the sun's first surge, that we'd lean shoulder-to-shoulder in a moment of silence as it slipped away for the night.  But we don't.  Electric light, TV screens, computer monitors, handheld devices of all kinds, all these light our faces long after the sun has set.  The sun rolls across the sky on a path we hardly ever trace.

We're endlessly distracted. Which is from the Latin distractus "drawn asunder or apart, turned aside", from dis "away" + trahere "to draw."  It means we've let ourselves be led away and apart.

When Donne asked, Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises?, he meant it differently than we can now even imagine. Donne's world was lit by candlelight and firelight and starlight.  Dimly lit.  Night was dark.  Darkly dark.  Day came like a revelation.

Now sunrise seems a little faded.  And sunset muted.

Does it matter really that most of us now live days and days without noticing when the sun has set or risen?  I think it does.  The first item on my list when I sat down to plot out my year of Renewal was this need I have -- this need I think our culture has -- to reconnect with real time.

I'm saying it does matter, that it's not healthy the way we figure we can ignore the sun rolling through her rounds above our regularly scheduled political discords.

Which is from the Latin discordia "disagreeing, disagreement", from dis "apart" +  cor (genitive cordia) "heart". It means our hearts are very far.

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