Created since 1979
Created by A. J. Zelada
But between the day and night
The choice is free to all, and Light
falls Equally on black and white.
~W. H. Auden
The specificity of a pencil lead volume of light from the sun to its scribing scribble on the earth is a godly act among Zeus and Yaweh or even the Mayan face of the sun, Kinich Ahau. Light reaches the earth and is the constant that provides us life and confounding principles of small to big, black and white or dark and not and all the other versas on this encircling planet.
The source of light and the rays striking the earth have been a tireless attraction & seeking passion of little chick, a wanna be Copernichick.
We have driven within the Columbia River Gorge multiple-multiple times this summer/autumn. The southern shore road view shows the northern expanse of a torrent carved & crafted flood from Missoula ice dams breaking & sending fists of water creating our Gorge but now that waterway is a mild river of four to six knots to the Pacific ocean. The light from the sun can hit the northern river beach through a cloud aperture highlighting a singular erratic rock set with that precision of laser surgery. One looks up the river to the towers of granite or other still flume of rocks high-lit with strong light shafts but surrounded in their grey cloudy illumination.
Auden interprets this with wry smile saying light falls equally on black and white. I have believed this since I first read his stanza in my twenties. I thought it meant the literal, we all have potential and we all had the resources of resiliency, the energy, a potential, and an ability to do anything. Sadly, I have moved from this basic premise. Yes, I want mobility for all to have an ability to elevate into different economic classes, to develop
different passions, to mature with self directing engines toward some chosen direction in concert with a version of Maslow self actualization. Or even have enlightenment about the self and deeper awareness of that self and those loved
But reading Auden and seeing the poetry’s source (from Ascent of F6) reveals the climber driven by ambition in summiting a peak and the irony of achieving that at the moment that death’s door slams shut on self knowledge, preventing the light ‘free to all’ self understanding. Arrival occurs with a veiled last gasp of false self-knowledge. It is a terrible satiric and sarcastic revelation and vision of sunlit black and white. The lit up black and white is not really possible to produce mobility into a positive passion or ignite the legs to cross into another dimension of growth. It is just death.
The black and white differences are some other warp of the light. And it is not external but some internal clockwork making the watchworks of self-insight severely difficult and a failure.
Copernicus in 1503 on little chick’s birthday said it simply:
To know that we know what we know,
and to know that we do not know what we do not know,
that is true knowledge.
At this age in the 39th year of the Chickmas, I hate to die not knowing more what I do not know than knowing what I know. I would love to know all the triggers that make humans be moved, be shaken, be uplifted, be down trodden or hilarious. I find it ironic that fathers come and go leaving passels of kids to discover their own paths; children giving fathers‘
attributes perceptually filled in despite their absent, tepid presence; daughters’ faltering ethics and social blindness with acrid lenses; mothers’ cloud sent messages of care arising from a child’s fantasy of need, and sons’ cluelessness in a world of distraction and no engines to evolve from year to year. Sounds as if all is rigid gender bound rules where the light does not shine to produce free-to-all-meritocracies.
But Black and White are but poor big buckets and bookends to describe the wonderful discreetness of mathematical billions of grays from Minor White’s seven powers of light. In 1972, Minor describes Light 1 is an action of light we cannot see directly but which yields photographs. And his Light 7 suggests levels with the emotional powers being the superscripts. Minor further suggests ‘the mask drops from us’ when rarefied moments that psychology, art, science, and the religious overlap into one outward manifestation. And he reminds us that Light 7 may be but a signpost to the Way.
Little Chick ~I am sure~ wishes all the best in an optimistic paragraph by Auden sort of stripped perhaps of his harsh satire and also wishes us an illuminated image in a more genial loving Minor method of appreciating the possibility of there being a creator giving us all so much without judgment. And both poets of word and light know some of us are luckier than others to have paused, read the words and seen the light of the world in front of us, staring back at us, & knowing the whole that we only hear and see in fragments.