Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Darkness and Light

Hanukkah is over (or is it Chanuka?) In any case, it's a good time to consider the issues of darkness and light, which are so much in the forefront of the news, with every party, religion and so on naturally considering themselves the Sons of Light and their adversaries - the Sons of Darkness. With so much light around, is it any wonder that everybody is going blind?

In any case, here is a little piece I wrote for the Darkness and Light students-organized event at TAU yesterday.
When I was a child, I was afraid of the dark. I slept with a night-light on because I believed there was a monster under my bed and it would come out the moment the light went out.
Now, older and wiser, I know there is a monster under the bed. I know that the shambling in the midnight street is the beginning of a zombie invasion. I know that the tapping on the window is a vampire trying to get in, and a moaning in the bathroom is not a faulty pipe but the ghost of a previous owner. And this is why I sleep soundly in the dark and no longer require even the dubious light of the Hanukkah candles.
We need our monsters. Perpetual light is boring and insipid, while the night is filled with magic and wonder. This is why descriptions of Paradise are so much less interesting than visions of hell, while literary utopias require a hefty dose of the apocalypse to make them even marginally attractive. The human imagination, confronted with mysteries of nature and with its own inevitable extinction, bravely challenges darkness by giving it a face. Monsters are our guides to where no man – oops, no human – has ever gone before. Monsters are our friends because they reflect back to us our own power of creation. Monsters provide us with the enemy to fight and in doing so, reinforce our belief that fighting is possible and that we may win. Light only shows nothing; darkness hides many different things.
And so count me among the forces of darkness. And if you hear a child crying because the light has gone out, tell her: “Yes, there is a monster under the bed – and here is the magic sword with which you can cut off its head!”
Happy New Year to all!


Shawn Edrei said...

I was hoping to get a second peek at this amazing text. Thanks for posting it! :)

Adam Fisher said...

A delight to hear, and a pleasure to read again - thank you!

scott davidson said...

A client suggested that I place a "nice painting" rather higher up on the wall of my dental surgery, so that she could see while dental work was being done for her. A good idea, I thought, to distract clients.
My nurse found and ordered this canvas print,, by Gustav Klimt, by browsing to who made our excellent print from their database of images from western art.