CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is OneLetterWords.com.
Featured Book
The Young Wizard's Hexopedia
Search Site
Interactive

Breathing Circle
Music Box Moment
Cautious or Optimistic
King of Hearts of War and Peace
As I Was, As I Am
Perdition Slip
Loves Me? Loves Me Not?
Wacky Birthday Form
Test Your ESP
Chess-Calvino Dictionary
Amalgamural
Is Today the Day?
100 Ways I Failed to Boil Water
"Follow Your Bliss" Compass
"Fortune's Navigator" Compass
Inkblot Oracle
Luck Transfer Certificate
Eternal Life Coupon
Honorary Italian Grandmother E-card
Simple Answers

Collections

A Fine Line Between...
A Rose is a ...
Always Remember
Ampersands
Annotated Ellipses
Apropos of Nothing
Book of Whispers
Call it a Hunch
Colorful Allusions
Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?
Disguised as a Christmas Tree
Do-Re-Midi
Don't Take This the Wrong Way
Everybody's Doing This Now
Forgotten Wisdom
Glued Snippets
Go Out in a Blaze of Glory
Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore
How to Believe in Your Elf
I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought
Images Moving Through Time
Indubitably (?)
Inflationary Lyrics
It Bears Repeating
It's Really Happening
Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands
Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan
Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led
No News Is Good News
Non-Circulating Books
Nonsense Dept.
Not Rocket Science
Oldest Tricks in the Book
On One Condition
One Mitten Manager
Only Funny If ...
P I n K S L i P
Peace Symbols to Color
Pfft!
Phosphenes
Precursors
Presumptive Conundrums
Puzzles and Games
Constellations
D-ictionary
Film-ictionary
Letter Grids
Tic Tac Toe Story Generator
Which is Funnier
Restoring the Lost Sense
Rhetorical Answers, Questioned
Rhetorical Questions, Answered!
Semicolon Moons
Semicolon's Dream Journal
Simple Answers
Someone Should Write a Book on ...
Something, Defined
Staring at the Sun
Staring Into the Depths
Strange Dreams
Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out
Telescopic Em Dashes
The 40 Most Meaningful Things
The Ghost In The [Scanning] Machine
The Only Certainty
The Right Word
This May Surprise You
This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea
Two Sides / Same Coin
Uncharted Territories
Unicorns
What's In a Name
Yearbook Weirdness
Yesterday's Weather
Your Ship Will Come In

Archives

May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006

Links

Magic Words
Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
Martha Brockenbrough
Gordon Meyer
Dr. Boli
Serif of Nottingblog
dbqp
Phantasmaphile
Joe Brainard's Pyjamas
Ironic Sans
Brian Sibley's Blog
Neat-o-Rama
Abecedarian personal effects of 'a mad genius'
A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
May 8, 2006

Staring at the Sun (permalink)

Artwork by Jason 'Sunshine' Carswell, www.wickedsunshine.com.
Staring At the Sun


I shake
And stare the sun
Till my eyes burn
— David Bowie, "The Voyeur of Utter Destruction"

Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun.  — Ecclesiastes

The dawn ventures to confont the sky decorated with multiple colors ... My eyes have an entirely different brilliance.  I am afraid they will make holes in the sky.  —Nietzsche


The biggest drawback to mirrorshades is that they simulate a state of permanent solar eclipse, a twilight world in which colors are distorted and shadows are deeper.  The sun has been both feared and revered throughout human history, but only a handful of people have actually had the courage to look it in the face.  Granted, the naked eye will sustain impairment if exposed to direct sunlight for too long.  Therefore, cyberpunk author Paul Di Filippo recommends optical implants as a solution.  “By stepping down the ratio of photons to electrons,” he suggests, “you can do such things as stare directly at the sun or at a welder’s flame without damage.”

But why stare into the sun in the first place?  Because it's dangerous.  Because it's deviant.  Because so few are man enough to try it.  Because radiation is natural.  Because it looked at you first.  Perhaps the best reason of all is that the sun frees us from the simplistic dogma of dualism.  Photons of light have no antiparticle.  That means that in the world of light there is no division between body and soul, good and evil, seer and scenery, past and future, man and fellow man.  In the world of light, 1 + 1 = 1.

Photographs of the sun are typically taken through telescopes.  Such photographs are pale substitutes for actually looking at the sun.  As naturalist Annie Dillard notes in an essay about witnessing a total eclipse, "The lenses of telescopes and cameras can no more cover the breadth and scale of the visual array than language can cover the breadth and simultaneity of internal experience.  Lenses enlarge the sight, omit its context, and make of it a pretty and sensible picture, like something on a Christmas card."  Scientific instruments, then, limit our perception even as they extend the range of our vision.  No matter what apparatus we use to view the sun, at some point we will encounter a "blind spot."  Clearly, the naked eye (capable of detecting a single photon of light) or naked implant is the only way to go.

There are two steps to proper sun-staring.  First, stare at the sun with the eyes open.  This is not an easy thing to do.  Rochefoucauld, the Benjamin Franklin of France, once said that "Neither the sun nor death can be looked at with a steady eye."  He was correct.  In his novel Staring at the Sun, Julian Barnes warns that "You can't stare at the sun for too long--not even the setting, quiet sun.  You would have to put your fingers in front of your face to do that."  So don't have any preconceptions that it's going to be simple or pleasant.  Try not to blink.  Try not to look away.  Shield your eyes with your fingers at first if you must, but then slowly spread your fingers to reveal the awesome light of the sun.  If you must look away then do so, but slowly bring your eyes back to the sun.  If you find yourself involuntarily blinking rapidly, hold your eyelids open with your fingers.

Second, stare at the sun with the eyes closed.  The sun's afterimage will remain under your eyelids, indelibly etched into your cornea.  James Patrick Kelley describes this phenomenon in his cyberpunk story "Solstice":  "Cage shut his eyes and still he could see it: blood red, flashing blue, veins pulsing across its surface."

What is the significance of this afterimage?  No doubt each person must find his omn answer to this question.  In her novel Century 21, Ewa Kuryluk attempts a philosophical answer.  She says that "We must preserve the sun's afterimage under our lids" because it forces us to confront "ideals, abstract beings which are neither bodies nor forces dwelling in bodies."  Perhaps she means that we can harness the sun's forces, snatch them from the physical body of the star, and carry them with us--literally within our eyelids.  In any case, Kuryluk seems to be touching upon a deeper truth about the perception of reality.  

The French poet Paul Claudel agrees with Kuryluk that we can carry the body of a star within our eyelids, making us the center of our own private solar system.  "We can see in the eye a sort of scaled down, portable sun," he says, "and therefore, a prototype of the ability to establish a radius from it to any point on the circumference."  The German poet Yvan Goll describes such a private solar system:

The universe revolves around you
Eye with facets which chase away the eyes of the stars
And implies them in your gyratory system
Carrying away nebulas of eyes in your madness.

The Maja-Ratri, a Sanskrit text, says that light is the source of all thought, since light is a combustion of star evolution.  That star evolution exists in the inner dimensions of your mind as a phosphene explosion.  Psychologist Carl Jung once wrote that "when our senses react to real phenomena, sights, and sounds, they are somehow translated from the realm of reality into that of the mind.  Within the mind they become psychic events, whose ultimate nature is unknowable."

If you're eventually going to have your eyes replaced anyway, why not burn them out in a single blaze of glory?  Besides, the combination of sunglasses and a walking stick is a timeless fashion statement.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest


Original Content Copyright © 2017 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.