Monday, October 10, 2005

Autumn

We have reached the month of perpetual afternoon, longer shadows and 7pm sunsets...Old Man Winter approaches...

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I've been reading a lot this week so forgive me for sharing my favourite excerpts. Once again, laundry. Yesterday, clothes. Today, sheets. Plus, taking a break from my weird research job.

Come, visualise something with me from The Bloomsbury Book of the Mind:

Aldous Huxley in The Experience of Supreme Beauty, quoting the Irish poet A.E./George Russell in his book Candle of Vision:

I was sitting on the seashore, half listening to a friend arguing violently about something which merely bored me. Unconsciously to myself, I looked at a film of sand I had picked up on my hand, when I suddenly saw the exquisite beauty of every little grain of it; instead of being dull, I saw that each particle was made up on a perfect geometrical pattern, with sharp angles, from each of which a brilliant shaft of light was reflected, while each tiny crystal shone like a rainbow . . . The rays crossed and recrossed, making exquisite patterns of such beauty that they left me breathless . . . Then, suddenly, my consciousness was lighted up from within and I saw in a vivid way how the whole universe was made up of particles of material which, no matter how dull and lifeless they might seem, were nevertheless filled with this intense beauty. For a second or two the whole world appeared as a blaze of glory. When it died down, it left me with something I have never forgotten and which constantly reminds me of the beauty locked up in every minute speck of material around us . . .

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From The Weekend Book (1924):

Chapter, Epigrams:
Relativity

There was a young woman named Bright
Who travelled much faster than light.
She started one day
In a relative way,
And returned on the previous night.
-- Anonymous

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Chapter, All Creatures That On Earth Do Dwell:

The Living Things
[...] There is a very rare and lovely butterfly, the Large Blue, which exists in precarious colonies here and there in two or three English counties. The caterpillar feeds on wild thyme; but when autumn comes it falls to the ground and is picked up by ants, which carry it into their anthills not, as you might suppose, for the purpose of devouring it but to keep it alive as a source of some sticky sweet secretion which the ants love. For this reason they cherish their captive, feeding it upon their own offspring, the tiny ant-grubs which are less precious to them than the stuff which they "milk" from the caterpillars. In the spring the caterpillars crawl forth, turn into chrysalises, and ultimately hatch out as Large Blue butterflies. The butterfly therefore requires for its continued existence (a) the wild thyme and (b) the ant, to be present in conjunction; its caterpillar could not survive the English winter without the shelter of the anthill.
Here is a very intricate relationship not of predator and prey but of mutual benefactors. It is called symbiosis.
The butterfly, however, is the victim of a predator -- Man with his butterfly-net; for it is now so rare that single specimens fetch 5 shillings* each. The farmer with his ploughs and his tractors also threatens its existence, destroying both thyme and anthills. So the Large Blue, which has become too specialised to adapt itself to changing circumstances, may shortly join upon the scrap-heap the millions of failures labelled Extinct. [...]

* 5 shillings equalled 60 pence in 1924. Today that translates to nearly £10.

4 comments:

JP said...

Was Huxley on mescaline when he wrote that?

Anonymous said...

Huxley was quoting another author, although he may have been on drugs when he was quoting.

Can I blame Aldous for Jim Morrison???

MattJ said...

Personally I'm liking the relativity Limerick, but then I am a simple creature. ;-P

Olivia said...

JP - AnonymousJ is right, Huxley was quoting an Irish poet.
And the Irish don't need to be on anything...

AnonJ - yes, blame Aldous for anything you like. Is this a common thing to do?

Matt - I endeavour to cater to all intellectual levels!