Friday, January 16, 2009


I've been asked to review a book that is a collection of essays about darkness (Let There be Night:  Testimony on Behalf of the Dark, ed. Paul Bogard, University of Nevada Press).  I've only read a few of the essays so far, but the concept of the book intrigues me:  it's environmental--pure darkness is becoming extinct as increased light pollution keeps us from experiencing real darkness. We rarely see stars in the cities anymore because of the way artificial light affects our ability to see stars.  

So who cares anyway?  Why do we need to experience dark?  There are biological answers to that question that I can't really evaluate but that seem logical (for example that we evolved as humans in an environment that included darkness and our bodies are adapted to it and are negatively affected when it is taken away), but there is also a spiritual comfort, I would say, in darkness, especially that utter velvety dark that you can experience still sometimes outside  in rural or wild areas.  It's a dark that's not frightening but comforting, maybe like the dark of our mother's womb.  We were, after all, conceived in darkness, nurtured in the darkness of our mother's womb and only exposed to light at birth, so it makes sense that we would feel comforted by darkness. Isn't it interesting that darkness gets such a bad rap in popular culture.  Nothing good ever happens in the movies when it gets dark.  Dark landscapes, such as forests and swamps, rarely harbor anything positive--that's where the monsters hide.  

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful book. Darkness can be that frightening place of no distractions, a blank canvas onto which we project inner fears, either personally or collectively. In my experience, the comfort of darkness comes when the fears have exhausted themselves.