Into … & out of darkness


Barry Lopez says: real beauty is so deep you have to move into darkness to understand it.


I sense a truth in Lopez’ words, but at the same time I must admit I’m not able to fully comprehend the meaning of his enchanting postulat. But this is what I do know: when in darkness – look for beauty, because beauty can (strange as it might seem) be found even in the darkest of times and places …



7 Comments Add yours

  1. Harold Rhenisch says:

    It sounds like Lopez was talking about the desert again, where illusions are stripped away and you can see by starlight. This is possible elsewhere, too, of course. Or, to put it another way, as I know it (‘understand’ is the wrong word, and that is, I think, Lopez’s point), when you stand in the darkness, in bodily space, you find beauty as your body knows it, in a space you physically apprehend, this physical apprehension has a cognitive dimension, and part of that cognitive dimension, once the space is inhabited, is light, on the principle that those lovely rowan leaves are growing in darkness and feasting on light, following the ladders of water, hydrogen and carbon on the trails of the sun. It’s not the light that we live in, Lopez is saying, and not the light that is beauty, but the everpresent ground of inhabited space, ie not space that is apprehended at a distance, but that one is, which is the distance. So is the desert, the non-domesticated space. That’s my reading. Lopez was the single most formative influence on my writing. I’ve lived with him for a long time. Goethe said much the same thing, that darkness was a form of sight. Gunnarsson said much the same thing, that an Icelander lives as much in the darkness as in the light. The way that these dimensions are incorporated into domestic space, including the domestic space of the trained (domesticated) mind, is vital, too. How a person moves out of a 13th century sod house, and the sense of body and space its darkness and light creates, is different than how one moves out of and through a contemporary glass and steel apartment in Berlin, or Oslo, or Vancouver. Lopez was talking about something outside of all of that. For that, and so much more, he is invaluable.

  2. Sigrun says:

    Interesting to hear that you read Lopez with Goethe, I have never thought of them in the same sentence before – .

  3. jane tims says:

    I think it is as simple as this. In order to experience colour, you must first know sepia. Our experience is based on comparison. The stars shine best against the blackness of the night.

  4. KM Huber says:

    For me, it is the sliver of light. 🙂

  5. Jeanne says:

    Is it possible that a change of light, whether brighter or darker, adjusts our eyes so our thoughts sharpen too? Or if it is dark we search with more intent, feel the outlines and let our heart enter the object?

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