Steiner says that modern spirituality is not compatible with seeking the solitary existence of a monastery or life in a cave or the desert; it’s not a question of isolating oneself from the world, but to live in it; not to become a hermit but a somewhat useful citizen, a part of mankind. Of course, that’s one of several reasons why his ideas cannot find resonance with me.
I need that cave, you see; I need to escape from the hordes of anonymous faces. Which is why I reject Steiner — on this particular account — out of dislike alone; no, I don’t believe I need to find a reasonable argument, at least I don’t care. (Because it’s irrelevant. In addition, I’m quite useless, as mr Dog will confirm.)
After being stuck in the city for most of July and August (mr Dog was ill again), I spent last week on the island. Returning to the city, I was (as is usually the case) in shock for several days: all that noise, all that screaming! It causes an almost instant dulling of all the senses; the general racket simultaneously pains and numbs you. A subconscious method of self-preservation I presume.
Arriving on the island, on the other hand, last weekend, was quite the opposite: fog all around me, heightening every experience. The world limited to what the mist allows you to experience, and what you actually can experience becomes so much more alive. Rocks and plants rise from the ground, trying to shoot themselves into the universe.
It’s incredibly peaceful and still. (Despite the foghorns. For some reason, hearing them is almost — unreal, almost as if somewhere deep inside that cotton-like substance, cosmos was singing a lullaby.)
Then there are the sunrises, the sunsets and the stars. I could get used to following the sun’s path and the stars rather than the news of the wars and the atrocities. In any case, I could use more of the former and less of the latter. But what choice does one have? In the screaming and frenzy of ordinary life in the city, one feels compelled to read about the latest beheadings. And the sunrises and sunsets are so far away and even the brightest stars can barely be detected at all.
And you wonder what that does to mankind, to all those anonymous faces; few of whom consciously care that the heavens have disappeared from consciousness.
There’s an odd thing: people don’t like darkness, thus (paradoxically) create more darkness with artificial light. Last year, cheap garden LED-lights (solar or battery-powered) became fashionable — this year, it has spread even more, and those who were pioneers last year, have invested in even brighter ones this year. Every other garden looks like a landing strip for flying saucers. Evidently people who spend three weekends and one or two weeks a year in the countryside suffer from a profound inability to enjoy the starry skies — I sometimes wonder if they have even noticed them? Perhaps they are afraid, you say; afraid of the darkness. Perhaps so. I’ve never found cheap LED-lights to be a better source of comfort than the stars and the moon; they turn everything around them blacker. (A head-torch suffices for me, when I need to see where I put my feet.)
Light pollution — increasing thanks to, among other things, plentiful of cheap trinkets — will make the night sky more invisible and irrelevant, as it is in the city. You can but wonder what that does to mankind, but mankind on a whole doesn’t care. Electric light has blessings, of course, and in many parts of the world even the basics of it are much needed. But we — here, in Europe — are “spoilt” rotten to a point where nature has become a foreigner and an enemy who needs to be combatted. It seems to me, though, that people have generally confused the knight with the dragon.
(Picture: sun rising in the early morning of August 24.)