March 20th, 2011

Keats’ Negative Capability

keats

“I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke, on various subjects; several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously – I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason – Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge. This pursued through Volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates every other consideration.”

John Keatsletter to his brother dated Sunday, 21 December 1817.



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January 19th, 2011

Full Moon Watch: Midwinter Spring Is Its Own Season

miyasaka

One of my favorite Van Morrison songs is called Fire in the Belly. A song that celebrates a new love and lease on life. Van enthuses: “Stoke up my engine, bring me my driving wheel/Once I get started you’ll see just how I feel.” But then, as if from a forgotten footnote, a warning arises in the chorus: First, we have to “get through January”, and then “get through February.” Oh, right. Spring is a couple of months away. Now what?

That chorus acknowledges slogging. What this time of year can feel like for some of us. The Winter Solstice, with its promise of increased light, has come (and gone). Christmas has peaked; and that quiet, prolonged communal ‘time out’ within December is spent. While the excitement and promise of a New Year has — admit it — started to wane.

So where are we exactly?

T.S. Eliot wrote about this lull and called it ‘midwinter spring.’ As if this period were its own customary time of the year. From the section titled Little Gidding in his Four Quartets, he describes this seasonally ambiguous zone:

Midwinter spring is its own season…
Between melting and freezing
The soul’s sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time’s covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable
Zero summer?

What a mysterious notion: “This is spring time but not in time’s covenant.” Time has been rearranged. Taken out of phase. And this is what the Sun’s passage through Aquarius and Pisces mirrors within our private and communal experience. We’re in time but also not in time. Here. But not here. Haven’t you noticed this lately? You start something but then feel the urge to take a nap moments later — and forget about the whole project. Or you find yourself focused and channeling your muse at the oddest moments of the evening. Forget going back to bed. Time feels one step removed.

If you need an image: Picture a bear deep in hibernation. Asleep, but so much mysteriously at work in the dream and nature realm. Midwinter spring redefines corporeal time; and fosters our ability to imagine and cull insight from what the Buddhists call Great Time, or the Eternal Now. The experience of time as singular; a one-pointed dynamism — free from the divisions of past, present and future. It is Great Time that Eliot explores through myriad poetic permutations in Four Quartets. The most cryptic of which appear in Little Gidding.

The two signs of the Zodiac that mirror the reality of Great Time are Aquarius and Pisces. And as the Sun nudges out of Capricorn today (the pennacle of Saturn-defined time), heading into Aquarius, we are ‘entering’ midwinter spring. Are you prepared? Not sure, well, observe your Aquarius or Pisces friends. You’ll recognize this unique relationship to time, when you consider their approach to life. Both signs live as if they were exempt from the laws and concepts that structure quotidian existence for the rest of us. They follow, often unconsciously, their own unique time rhythms. Read more



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December 08th, 2009

Niffari on Turning

Relationship persists so long as subsidiary cause persists,
and subsidiary cause persists so long as quest persists,
and quest persists so long as thou persistest,
and thou persistest so long as thou sees Me not;
but when thou seest Me, thou art no more,
and when thou art no more,
quest is no more, and when quest is no more,
subsidiary cause is no more, and when subsidiary cause is no more,
relationship is no more, and when relationship is no more,
limit is no more, and when limit is no more, veils are no more.


– Niffari

Painting: Paul Klee, detail from U struji šest pragova, 1929


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October 18th, 2009

New Moon Watch: …May It Happen For You

MaslowskiStanislaw

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

– Sheenagh Pugh

Painting by Stanisław Masłowski (1853-1926), Wschód księżyca (Moonrise), 1884. From Crashingly Beautiful


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September 18th, 2009

New Moon Watch: Saturn Holds the Nexus

josef_sudek
“The world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man.”
– C.G. Jung

Saturn. Lead. Gravity. And gravitas. With Saturn comes a quality of substance, a depth of being. Within the planetary pantheon, Saturn equates with the visceral experience of ‘now.’ Time as ‘is.’ What you are grappling with — now, what you are attempting to learn and master — now, to comprehend and stick it out — there’s Saturn.

Uranus. Can language even describe its particular electricity and type of fire? Think about electricity for a moment. What in the hell is it exactly — other than some mysterious force born of friction? Dane Rudhyar once called Uranus an ambassador from another galaxy. Wow. Read more



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