When Un-Seeing is the Way: Sunrises are Color-Yawns
What a Copernicus or a Darwin really achieved was not only a discovery of a true theory, but of a fertile new point of view.
— Ludwig Wittgenstein
The sun still rises and sets, even if Copernicus discovered that this world revolves as it orbits around the centered sun. All of us came from the sea, even if mermaids are (most likely) the stuff of legend. Language is meant to be a signifier, even if it probably sprang from the metaphors of the stars, dreams and beasts who literally shaped us. If it had always looked like the world was rotating — creating the appearance of the sun’s due course — there would probably be another group of signifiers reserved for poeticizing the sunset.
Earth’s rolling darkness
What would it look like if it looked like the world was rotating? Some truths are masked in the reality(?) of what we see. It’s difficult not to think of the frozen ground as anything but cold and dead, even if countless living things are going about their chthonic duties, from mycelium to worms. A dead-calm sea seems like a quaint medium of reflective quietude, even if the endless war beneath the surface rages on, with reef sharks near the surface as busy as giant squid in the crushing deep. The royal purple of a morning glory opening up at sunrise — color yawn — containing multitudes of colors, apparent for the ultraviolet eyes of the butterfly, while those bug-eyes are private witnesses to a beauty and life-source beyond language. Our color language is lacking when it comes to what we cannot readily see, even if we possess the hard instruments to look. No. Language is embedded in the fabric of what our five senses receive habitually, naturally. But, quite often for the worse. The changing climate gives rise to soaring temperatures across the globe, but a white winter appears like magic, justifying those who lack the patience or care to understand the nature of such global changes. I live on a little island in Queens where I’ve heard neighbors bemoaning the rising sea-level in the same breath as denying climate change, literally, in the same sentence. Their eyes see and believe…while what lies beneath, the truth, seems dead and cold, like the much-maligned ground beneath our feet.
And all the rest make no attempt.
They no more see
How they behave broad waking
Than remember clearly
What they did asleep.
Schopenhauer proposed that the limits of our field of vision are the limits of our world. Wittgenstein replaced vision with language as the limits. Both were onto something, but not without the union of sight and language, all five senses working together, like a swimmer’s body does in the storm-tossed sea, begging for briny breaths, as surely as kicking and flailing as hard as she can just to stay afloat. A dictionary is a heap of alphabetized words without life, since words only have meaning in the stream of thinking and life. If the horizon was the measure of our world, it would be a rather flat one, indeed. Where our vision fails to inform us, our thoughts must go down, down into the teeming earth where the truth lies, where worms wriggle away at age-old assumptions and mycelium casts an infinite net upon another micro-layer of earth, sending chthonic thought throughout, in a dazzling __________ we will never ‘know’. There is beauty in the sunset, no matter what it’s called, perhaps more when it’s passed over in silence. Seeing what we know to be true often takes un-seeing, a leap into the unknown, a necessary betrayal of the senses that got us this far, even if these are the same senses that got us here, metaphorically waist-deep in the rising waters.