Monday, December 20, 2010

The Dark Of The Moon

The entire nation gets a ringside seat to a total lunar eclipse tonight (Monday, December 20, 2010.)

The total eclipse late tonight will last for 72 minutes, a deeper "night within a night," as someone put it. The moon will be partially eclipsed for about an hour as it goes into and out of the Earth's shadow.

The total eclipse will last from 2:41 to 3:53 a.m. ET.

More at USA Today


Recently I found myself curious as to when I first became aware that a poem or any other piece of writing could contain more than the surface meaning that its words conveyed. The earliest such insight that I can remember came about when I was in Middle School in the 1950s and the poem was:

The Blind Men and the Elephant
by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
" 'Tis clear enough the Elephant Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he,
"the Elephant Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

After reading that poem, and after thinking about it, I all at once knew (without it being explained to me by a teacher) that this poem was telling me that if a person comes to a conclusion based on too few facts, that conclusion is probably incorrect, and that one should not form a definite and final opinion concerning a subject until one has all of the available facts.

That particular instance of sudden discernment has stayed in my memory all these years, and it has many times caused me to look deeper into meanings that might be possibly hidden in pieces of both poetry and prose (or in political speeches.) I am not always successful at identifying the exact meaning behind the seemingly obvious words and poetical word-pictures, but this can usually be blamed on my lack of 'formal' education and therefore being unfamiliar with 'classical' terms and references.


My friend Anthony recently wrote about Norman Mailer. I considered leaving a comment regarding my enjoyment of The Naked And The Dead and The Executioner's Song... and I might yet do so. I enjoyed reading both of those books (so long ago it seems) and I consider Norman Mailer an excellent craftsman, based of course on the fact that I most certainly did enjoy reading those works. I cannot fairly judge the lofty 'literate' book (when it ignores craftsmanship) since I rarely read them, and even when I do, I rarely understand them and rarely 'enjoy' reading them.


Chancellor Of Germany,
Angela Merkel

The Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, told a gathering of young members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party this weekend that the "multikulti" concept -- where people of different backgrounds would live together happily -- does not work in Germany.

Another article, titled Multiculturalism, RIP heralds the possible end of multiculturalism. This is in The American Spectator and it explains its title. Below is the opening paragraph:

Throughout my adult life governments around the Western world have been propagating the gospel of multiculturalism, which tells us that immigrants, from whatever part of the world and whatever way of life, are a welcome part of our "multicultural" society. Differences of language, religion, custom, and attachment don't matter, they have reassured us, since all can form part of the colorful tapestry of the modern state. Anybody who publicly disagreed with that claim invited the attentions of the thought police, always ready with the charge of racism, and never so scrupulous as to think it a sin to destroy the career of someone, provided he was white, indigenous, and male. To be quite honest, living through this period of organized mendacity has been one of the least agreeable ordeals that we conservatives have had to undergo. Keeping your head down is bad enough; but filling your head with official lies means sacrificing thought as well as freedom.

Note to the more close-minded of liberals: If you refuse to read the above article because of what you have heard about Conservative publications, please remember the plight of each of the blind men who knew all they needed to know about the appearance of an elephant by what their limited contact with a single part told them about the entire elephant.


"The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens ... Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere."
--Leo Tolstoy

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