good day sunshine

June 13, 2008

The sun is finally shining. Right the fuck on. I didn’t think I was gonna make it last week. I’m sure we’ve got some more rain ahead of us, but Oregon summer is so close I can almost taste it.

Thinking of the sunshine juxtaposed with my blogging about darkness reminds me of this Nan Goldin photo I saw last week. It was a picture of some train tracks running off into this clump of trees that seemed to be painted against a stunning sunset, all purple and red and gold. There was such a beautiful subtlety to it that I immediately thought of the midwest. Then I read the caption – train tracks at Birkenau. And I thought of course. Of course there were stunning sunsets there, of course such beauty would exist while humans were being tortured and murdered inside the walls. And I couldn’t stop looking at it, no matter what other book I picked up, I kept going back to it. The photo illustrates what I’m struggling so hard to articulate, that darkness does not exist outside our humanity.


7 responses to “good day sunshine”

  1. David says:

    I gotta think about this one:
    ‘The photo illustrates what I’m struggling so hard to articulate, that darkness does not exist outside our humanity’

    Something about that doesn’t seem right…the onus on humanity – there is plenty of cruelty in nature – maybe that darkness doesn’t exist outside the struggle of life? Not sure…

  2. ned says:

    if darkness only exists within humanity, seems like the same could be said of beauty; they’re both human concepts.

  3. proteanme says:

    i like to think of humanity in terms of human capacity and and we all the have the capacity to engage in incredibly wonderful and incredibly horrible behavior and everything in between. i’m thinking of joseph campbell instructing us to particpate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.

  4. peptide says:

    there is certainly cruelty in nature – sometimes it produces joy in its perpetrators – i’m thinking of footage i saw some time ago of orcas batting baby seals around after catching them entering the water – playing with their food. but i think what liz is getting at is something about the thought, planning and deliberation that went into something like the death camps – or the killing fields of cambodia, some in the vicinity of angkor wat.
    i don’t think it takes humans out of the continuum of animal life to recognize that we have some unique traits resulting from our mental (frontal cortex and all the rest of that gray matter) and cultural inheritance. ants may wage war and take slaves, but they do it with no thoughts – pure instinct of cells in a body. and chimps wage battles and commit cannibalism, but they lack the ability to conceptualize torture camps or the like.
    that said, i don’t think the recognition of ‘evil’ is purely human, just our particular developments of the recognition – the lengths to which we can articulate it. just a matter of more tools to work with.

  5. peptide says:

    forgot to complete that angkor wat mention – horror with a backdrop of sublime beauty, whether of natural or human making. we tend to think of auschwitz as gray and deadening – part of our aesthetic sense of things. i remember watching ‘shoah’ and feeling a similar sense of surprise at how beautiful the surrounding forests were.

    but i think prey animals feel horror and something akin to that darkness at the hands (or paws or what have you) of their killers – more or less depending on how developed their consciousness is. again thinking of chimp wars, which leave weeping victims bemoaning their fate.

  6. silvia says:

    liz, this writing made me think of a particular movie – Little Children. Have you seen it? It may bring some further thought to this dialogue – or perhaps feeling. it was an invitation for compassion for me in a significant way.

    it seems we build judgement and shame based on the degree of difference from what we know and understand. we build judgement based on scale of the impact, sometimes, but more so it seems by how close the impact is to our own life.

    where addict for some means horror to most for me it means the precisely the same and also an incredible and unconditional love, the tremendous power of the collective consciousness, the ability for complete transformation of consciousness. who knew that our dna can be rewritten with cooperation of grace and willingness?

    neurosis take on so many different forms, some private some public, some small scale, some large scale, some which blend into the culture and become it, some which stand apart from cultural norms. Is patriarchy in corporate culture that plays out unfairly with the employees better or worse than the man who hits a woman? than a compulsive shopper? than people who collect too much stuff in their home and there is no room for living? than a narcissistic movie star? one who cheats in a relationship? than major capitalist entrepreneurs who drown out species? than someone who cuts themself? than a president who approves a war? than the person who is afraid to go outside? than the obese person? than an obsessive scrapbooker? than someone who steals pens every day? than the woman who is not happy with her body? ~~~~~~~~~~ Than the woman who is happy with her body, than the man who loves his wife and treats her like gold, than the ecological scientist who promotes regeneration of species, than the anti-war protestor, than a very good yoga instructor? than a monk who spend most of her life in prayer? i have different levels of reactions to these examples as I write them but in a more thoughtful state can see them as all the same. different manifestations of self-centered fear, different coping mechanisms, different breadth and target of impact. different stages of awareness, different points of willingness, different levels of self honesty, personal progression and growth. different amounts of fear or love operating.

    i mentioned in an earlier post that release of shame, compassion, and opening up my heart space to a greater consciousness than my own has preceded the significant transformation in my life. until i take that step i may speak of change but really robbing from peter to pay paul somewhere in my life, with some behavior.

    to take this to present time. i am beginning to study ecological design and coming to feel some pain and shame in my own way of living and how the design and thinking of my own life is at the expense of the living things around me. the book i am reading currently is called Ecological Design by Stuart Cohen and Sim VanDerRyn. I have observed in myself how each page is almost too much for me. I ask what is that makes it so painful? There is a call once again to release the shame and practice compassion so that I can be open enough for new consciousness to come in and very easily shift into new thinking and living.

    i realize this may or may not relate to what you are articulating for yourself — but more to share what your post invoked in me. my set of experiences. for what they are worth.

    i am grateful for you.

  7. liz says:

    silvia and amos, than you so much for your moving and thoughtful comments. i need some time to digest all of what you said, but i wanted to say how grateful i am that you took the time to put down your thoughts. it’s very meaningful to me. worth so much. thank you!

    and silvia i was just talking about the movie, little children, in relation to my thinking about darkness.

leave a reply