Saturday, December 24, 2016

MARIA POPOVA - Solstice, Seasonality, and the Human Spirit: A Beautiful 1948 Meditation

May the human spirit of love and compassion prevail over the rising tide of fanaticism and xenophobia. Let us learn to speak again. Merry Christmas everyone; and a happy new year. Dilip

The Almond Trees by Albert Camus
The Documentary That Found Humanity by Interviewing 2,000 People

Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty: Junichiro Tanizaki, (1933)

All true culture … is an effusion of light and warmth, Nietzsche wrote in his beautiful meditation on how to find yourself. But from the figurative radiates a reminder of the literal - human culture is and has always been inexorably connected to the ultimate source of light and warmth, the Sun. From the practicalities of our calendars to the psycho-emotional orientation of our moods, our lives revolve around our star. We are earthly bodies locked in a celestial dance of which we are never more aware than when the seasons turn.

Henry Beston (1888 - 1968) captures our indelible spiritual connection to seasonality in Northern Farm (public library) - his wondrous 1948 collection of short, lyrical essays and diary entries penned over the course of a year on a small farm in Maine, which gave us Beston on whimsicality and the limits of knowledgenature and the power of community, and his increasingly timelymanifesto for reclaiming our humanity from the tyranny of technology

On the eve of the Summer Solstice - that annual zenith of the Sun over the Tropics, which ancient mythologies celebrated as a holiday of fire - Beston writes:
In the old Europe which inherited from the Bronze Age, this great feast of the Solstice was celebrated with multitudinous small fires lit throughout the countryside. Fire and the great living sun — perhaps it would be well to honor again these two great aspects of the flame. It might help us to remember the meaning of fire before the hands and fire as a symbol. As never before, our world needs warmth in its cold, metallic heart, warmth to go on and face what has been made of human life, warmth to remain humane and kind.

In another reflection on the flow of seasons, Beston writes:
With the change, there comes something particularly needed by the human spirit - an affirmation of that eternal change in nature which rules out stagnancy, and the appearance of the entirely new within the pattern of the old… I suspect that in human existence our problem is the finding of some like harmony between what is fixed and of the pattern and what is untried and eager to be born.

Complement this particular portion of the wholly beautiful Northern Farm with French artist Blexbolex’s graphic ode to the seasons, Adam Gopnik’s love letter to winter, and Italian artist Alessandro Sanna’s watercolor meditation on seasonality :

Alessandro Sanna from The River

Then revisit Beston on how the beauty of darkness nourishes the human spirit

See / read more:

The Almond Trees by Albert Camus
Satyagraha - An answer to modern nihilism
SABYASACHI BHATTACHARYA - Swaraj of the mind..

Where the mind is without fear
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high 
Where knowledge is free 
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments 
By narrow domestic walls 
Where words come out from the depth of truth 
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection 
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way 
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit 
Where the mind is led forward by thee 
Into ever-widening thought and action 
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake 

Rabindranath Tagore