Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Noctural Reflections

Late Evening Walk

There I was in the most relaxed of moods late Saturday evening last walking the pier at Howth Harbour. It was about 9.30 p.m. and the unseasonable early October temperature of some 14 or 15 degrees centigrade made walking to the lighthouse all the more pleasurable. A calmer and more peaceful evening could not have been conjured up by a magician. The myriad lights of the now not so little village were bathing themselves in calm waters and almost seemed to wink with pleasure at the walker. I often walk Howth pier late in the evenings as I find the experience conducive to a meditative nature that resides somewhere deep within my psyche.

The Big Dipper or the Plough was just a little above me and very close to the horizon as is its wont at this time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. If you know where there sun sets (West-ish!) and look a little to the right and up a bit then you will be easily able to discern this pattern of stars – it was simply crystal clear last evening. All of its seven stars are quite bright which makes it very easy to find. The astronomers tell us that contrary to our everyday contention the Plough is in fact not a constellation at all but rather part of a much larger group which is a constellation called Ursa Major or the Great Bear. Last evening it seemed as if this marvellous ladle was going to pour a sweet and calm drink for me from the harbour. This, of course, is poetry brought on my essentially romantic nature. Perish the thought in actuality – I’m sure I’d be poisoned.

The night being clear and calm, the sky was like black velvet studded with twinkling diamonds. A family of herons could be heard occasionally calling to one another in their prolonged squawk across the harbour. All around me seemed to proclaim a peace of soul and a silence of spirit that I needed after a long, tiring and loud week dealing with adolescents. Why are young adults so full of noise anyway? It’s probably the stage of life they are at or is it? Friedrich Nietzsche came to my mind. I have always loved his aphorisms which make me really think. I thought of his saying about how nature has absolutely no emotions or feelings – it’s simply that we the observers impute our emotions to it. All you romantics out there forget your stupid dreamy ideas and listen to Friedrich as he tells us that nature is in fact unsympathetic and very much indifferent to our moods. Ruskin can forget about his famous coinage of “pathetic fallacy” which he used to comment upon works of Art

Had I a camera with me I should have chanced taking a photo in an effort to capture the peaceful beauty of the night. That reminds me I need to purchase a more sophisticated camera if I wish to take such photographs as the whole scene before me would come out as nothing short of blobs of light against a black background with my current camera. Anyway, the sight on that calm evening sums up for me what the field of aesthetics is – it is that which makes something beautiful, sublime, ugly, disgusting, fun, cute, silly, entertaining, pretentious, discordant, harmonious, boring, tawdry, superficial, humorous, or tragic or profound. The scene was such that really I should attempt to write a meditation to capture it. As I walked back to my car last Saturday evening around 10.30 p.m. I looked across the harbour to the blue neon lights of the Aqua Restaurant and Bar and recalled Jim Teeling’s recent retirement party. From that restaurant one can view the lights of the trawlers crawling home from an evening of fishing the not so bountiful and not so unpolluted seas. The aesthetics of the view belies both the painful effort of the fishermen and the murkier pollution behind the surface imprression. However, we need such moments of beauty to lift our souls from the “foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.” It seems there is a time for everything under the stars – for birth, for growing, for retiring, for meditating, for philosophy, for laughing and for crying, and indeed for dying. Everything has its place in the overall aesthetic.

Unfortunately I haven't a picture from last Saturday evening, but the above photo I tool four years ago of Howth Harbour will have to suffice.

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