Friday, February 24, 2012

Many Moons

I'm immersed in the kind of thrilling background reading that makes pre-conference preparations a joy. I have two events coming up that will book-end April; the first is in Ibiza and the second in Phoenix, Arizona (with precious days in Boston, Amherst and NYC in between). Such vastly different landscapes, cultures and energies! Before returning home, I'll be spending a week in Portland OR, a day or two in Seattle and then another week in New Mexico with dear friends; we'll slip our shoes off, cross the sacred thresholds of ancient stone pueblos on bare feet, awed in the face of towering mesas and giant telescopes whose clicks and hums sound and resound for many, many miles. We will bow to night skies shot through with stars - 

         ". . . each star has a name and a secret name;
                          the only word we hear from them is their light;
men will never compass in their conceptions the whole of the stars;
                                under a starry sky on a clear night, the hidden power
                            of knowing speaks a language with no name; . . . " 
                                                                                                        The Stars - Vija celmins & Eliot Weinberger

One of the places we intend to visit is The Very Large Array, a radio astronomy observatory anchored in the NM desert. "The antennae are arrayed along the three arms of a Y-shape (each of which measures 21 km/13 miles long. . . " I feel incredibly privileged and yes, over-the moon excited at having the opportunity to do all this.

The working title for my Arizona paper is Small Points of Light. As the title implies, light will be the linking motif. Book- and web-based explorations are taking me to some truly mind-blowing places. What mysteries are contained within and around us. That boundless wonders exist in all corners of the cosmos is no secret, of course, but heavens alive, my friends (heaven is alive, my friends). . . There's no separation between earth and heaven, between 'out there' and 'in here'. 

We live in an extraordinarily complex and eloquent universe. Astronomers tell us we can hear the sound of a black hole singing. 'And what it is singing, and perhaps has been singing for more than two billion years, they say, is B flat -- a B flat that's 57 octaves lower than middle C'; the stars emit and elicit music; our own sun has a voice (you can listen in to it here). New material is constantly coming to light; old premises and new assumptions are being stretched, opened up, affirmed, challenged, revisited and reshaped. Something revelatory is at work, a kind-of 'dying-for-renewal's sake'? It's happening at every moment and on all scales, from the cosmic to the microcosmic and back again. (All this buzz makes BBS a very real danger.) 

In terms of the body's story - yours and mine - how amazing it is that the heart is being recognized as having its own intelligence; an intelligence and coherence that's independent of - and integral to - our brain's. Science - its nature, purpose and meaning - is being redefined. Spirituality's credence is being received and understood in new ways. Old theories and premises are being tipped on their heads; reality becomes illusion becomes reality. I find this at once invigorating, mind-numbing and humbling. (I carry a measure of wariness re; The Domain Of The Head (TDOTH), or perhaps I could say I have an appreciation for 'Ah-ha-s' accompanied by action; a wish to bring ideas 'to bear' and 'to ground'. This can be easier said than done sometimes. . .)  

(Some of you will know that) Jeannette Winterson is one of my all-time favorite writers - she of the brilliant wit and shimmering imagination. For a long while, I've entertained a fantasy - Jeanette and her partner come to NZ and stay with me at 22 (my home in Dunedin); their visit coincides with cellist Zoe Keating's (who would come with her hubby, cello-baby and cello, of course). . . Some of you might like to hop on over, too, for a reading, a concert or Sunday night scrambled eggs on toast? There's no harm in dreaming, is there? (I'm a great believer in giving voice to our dreams. Speaking them out loud nudges them forwards towards actualization.)

JW has written and recorded a remarkable series for radio, The Inconstant Moon. I invite you to tune in to all ten episodes - The Real Moon, The Invented Moon, The Mad Moon, The Mythic Moon, The Attempted Moon, The Women's Moon, The Earth's Moon, The Magic Moon, The Inconstant Moon and The Mock Moon

If you need tempting, here's an excerpt from The Real Moon, the first in this series - 

". . . No water. No wind. Worn mountains. Wasted seas. A rough, dry mineral sphere with a cloudless sky that is black even in bright daylight. Nothing is alive on the moon. Her landscape can be damaged by meteor impact but unlike the earth she watches over, moon cannot evolve or change.  And yet, she's much more than a museum moon, a leftover exhibit of earth's boisterous past; she's a dreaming moon - the place where we still go at night against the busyness of the day. She is still the moon that children point to and animals watch; the moon who rises the tides and mysteriously lights her earth. For all the science, she is still a poet's moon.

Yes, this is the moon - this hurrying, muscular, un-solid un-stillness; this endless wavering in whose engine I, too, am living. . . "


On my wanderings through the ether, I came across Nereid - sea nymph - or in this instance, the namesake of one of Neptune's Trojan moons (I'd not heard of a Trojan moon before - had you?) ( and, from amongst a great many fine lunar-themed poems, two in particular lingered -

                THE FREEDOM OF THE MOON

                    I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air
                    Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster
                    As you might try a jewel in your hair.
                    I’ve tried it fine with little breadth of luster,
                    Alone, or in one ornament combining
                    With one first water-star almost as shining.

                    I put it shining anywhere I please.
                    By walking slowly on some evening later
                    I’ve pulled it from a crate of crooked trees,
                    And brought it over glossy water, greater,
                    And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow,
                    The color run, all sorts of wonder follow. 

                Robert Frost (1874 - 1963)



                    A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a bucket -
                    And you listening.
                    A spider's web, tense for the dew's touch.
                    A pail lifted, still and brimming - mirror
                    To tempt a first star to a tremor.

                    Cows are going home in the lane there, looping the hedges with their warm
                    wreaths of breath -
                    A dark river of blood, many boulders,
                    Balancing unspilled milk.
                    'Moon!' you cry suddenly, 'Moon! Moon!'

                    The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work
                    That points at him amazed.

                 Ted Hughes

I have meandered far and wide this evening. Before signing off, I cannot resist posting this quote from Ted Hughes (from On Thinking - v. rewarding 8.43 min vid. attached): 

". . . There is the inner life of thought which is our world of final reality; the world of memory, emotion, feeling, imagination, intelligence and natural common sense and which goes on all the time - consciously or unconsciously - like the heartbeat. . . There is also the thinking process by which we break into that inner life and capture answers - and evidence to support the answers - out of it. And that process of raid or persuasion, of ambush or dogged hunting or surrender is the kind of thinking we have to learn and if we don't somehow learn it, then our minds lie in us like fish in the pond of a man who can't fish. . . "Ted Hughes 

"The stars: what are they?

. . . they are spheres of crystal and their movement creates a music in the sky; 
                                                                                       they are fixed and we are moving;
we are fixed and they are moving. . . "
                                                                                           The Stars - Vija celmins & Eliot Weinberger

'Night, All.
~   ~  ~ Deep dreams ~  ~   ~ 


  1. so much beauty, claire. you are the messenger, our own beam of light...

  2. I'll pop by for that dream, Claire. I think your lovely studio would be a happily crowded place a buzz with music and conversation amongst great company.

  3. Dear Claire, you don't just wander through the galaxy, you positively rocket--so many ideas, new thinking, new visions, new photos--it is indeed mind-boggling. I find it impossible to go there myself, but am glad to have you return from the stars with light crystals in your open palms to show me how lovely. xo

  4. Claire, I read this first thing this morning, and it took my breath away. What a way to start the day!

    In my kitchen last night, one of the conversations was of black holes, stars, the speed of light, and, of course: the moon.

    We went outside to take a gander, and it had slung itself behind some clouds.

    Stars visible everywhere though, in blues and yellows.

  5. Fascinating: solar sound, and the sound of black holes.

    Thank you, Claire

  6. Since I began reading here, you've taken me from the sea to the stars and moons; to consider a mind which I hope does not lie like a fish in a pond. The heart's intelligence, once spoken, sends me to make notes, for the difference between that knowing and The Domain Of The Head is key to our destiny. How eloquently you've written of the precisely connected leaps we take on this journey; my (non-fish) mind has been probing gravity and time, subjects not easily explored yet seeming, in the moment, to be no more complex or uncommon than toast or a piece of fruit. What travels you will have. I am excited for you. xo

  7. Clare I love this..on friday I read part of this (just came back to finish the rest) and went to Kushanas opening.I felt very pleased with my inspirational day.
    I was at a party on Saturday in Oamaru and there was a band (the Johnny cashtones) the two guitarist up front were playing and at one point they leaned in and the two guitars melded. it reminded me of the line of a black hole singing.I mentioned it to one of guitarists..told him about your blog and he said.yes harmony..and around my mind went again.
    I loved how your writing reminded me of what I had forgotten and sent me other places to think.xx

  8. oohh yes almost forgot..a movie..'the insatiable moon' just to add to the moonines

  9. Your Zoe dream is my Zoe dream. We could be such great friends, don't you think? =)
    I'm excited for all your adventures.

  10. At last I have come back to read and reflect on this long and beautiful post, about moons and thinking and so much more besides. I'm grateful for your efforts. I'd like to share Ted Hughes's thoughts on thinking elsewhere, while acknowledging you. These are profound and dense thoughts that help me to think more about thinking. Thank you, Claire, you of the in depth mind, with such a flair for beauty.