Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brochen Spectre

"Brochen Spectre" (Wikipedia)
I could write about the cold: it is unusually as cold as it usually used to be. However, the span of one life it not enough to prove that the climate is changing. The scale of a planet’s time is so large that the span of one life in it is essentially invisible, but only nothing is invisible. An accumulation of essentially invisible things can certainly have an impact.

 I could write about how satisfying it is to read passages from Thoreau’s journals to students who don’t quite get him, but could. That “could” fires my enthusiasm because his is a voice full of carefully observed and considered ambiguity. I always (or like to think it is always) read the whole of the passage from his journals that the anthology titles “Seeing.” In it, he references the Brochen Spectre, the obscure optical phenomenon of observing your shadow contained in a rainbow and reflected back in the water droplets of fog or cloud. It is apt because observing nature is a constant battle between self and other: the proper balance is essential. And what is proper? In a mobile the balance point is not always the center, so it is possible that under some circumstances, perhaps a little less of me is called for, though in my little world I will never be able to approach invisibility.

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