Bright Regent of the Heavens

In case you missed it, our friend SwordLily shared with us this enchanting, original poem of hers in a comment on the last posting:

Midsummer Night

Under a silver moon

Heat sings the ground alive

Fey dance in rainbow shadows

Winter is only a fond memory of gray

 

Very nice, huh? We’ve just passed the solstice — did you all enjoy Midsummer’s Eve? I hope no one got your head turned into a donkey’s head – or if you did, I hope it got turned back. I spent the holiday writing away on The Sacred Woods, my new book. Today it broke the 40,000-word line, so it’s now officially a novel! 2,342 words today, 1,016 yesterday! How near am I to being done? I keep saying I’m about 2/3 done, but I realize I’ve been saying that for a couple weeks now.

But anyway, we’re in the last days of June, moving from early summer into High Summer. Deep Summer. The moon is waxing now, waxing toward the next full. Since the moon is such a big part of summer, I figured it deserved a posting all its own.

When I was a kid, my mom introduced me to the fun of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas — I balked at the idea until I realized how much they had in common with Monty Python. Here’s a quote (though not a silly one — sorry to have raised your expectations with that mention of Monty Python) from their operetta HMS Pinafore:

Fair moon, to thee I sing,

Bright regent of the heavens,

Say, why is everything

Either at sixes or at sevens?

And I don’t have a copy of Watership Down here, but I remember from it the line: O Slug-a-Moon, O Slug-a-Moon, / Grant thy faithful hedgehog’s boon! 

The moon rides the welkin. I suppose we’re more aware of it in the warm months because we have the leisure to notice the sky; we’re not huddled indoors. The moon has elicited the attention of man’s best friend — the dog — from time immemorial. That silver orb in the air is ever worthy of howls. And it has captured the attention of poets and writers, painters and lovers. We love the moon. It gives us a focal point in the deep blue. It casts a frosty, chromy light over a landscape that would otherwise be dark. The stars comfort us with their (relative) permanence, their fixed quality, their infinite number. But the moon is a more personable companion in a way: it’s so much closer, and it moves and changes all the time, like us. 

I remember my delight when I discovered that I could see my own shadow in moonlight, just as I could see it under the sun. It was unquestionably the moonlight: I was nowhere near any source of artificial light, alone among the fields, on the tar-and-gravel road near my Illinois house.

Here’s from Steven Millhauser’s Enchanted Night:

“She looks at the moon, up there in the sky. It’s almost perfectly round except for one side that looks a little flat and smudged, as if someone has rubbed it with a thumb, and she has a sudden desire to be there, in that blaze of whiteness, looking down unseen at the little town below, the toy houses with their removable chimneys, the little maples and streetlights, the tiny people with their tiny sorrows.”

Ah, Millhauser’s extraordinary book is filled with so many moon quotes I could be here all night:

“The moon, climbing so slowly that no one notices, shines down on Main Street. It casts a deep shadow on one side of the street and an eerie brightness on the other, where the sidewalk is bone-white and the little glass windows of the parking meters glisten as if they are wet.”

This is the time of year when I implore people to read Enchanted Night, by Steven Millhauser. It is a fantastic summer experience: a very short novel-in-discrete scenes, the adventures of a group of diverse people linked by their residence in the same New England town on the same summer night. The book takes place entirely within one night, under the almost-full moon. “This is the night of revelation,” says the Chorus of Night Voices: “This is the night the dolls wake. This is the night of the dreamer in the attic. This is the night of the piper in the woods.”

“From the woods in the north part of town there rises a sound of flute music, dark and sweet. It rises in slow ripples, falls, in slow ripples it rises, again falls, a tireless slow rising and falling, insistent, a dark call, a languorous fall. Perhaps it is only birdsong, there in the dark trees.”

And if you’ve read that book, and if you want more Millhauser, read The Knife-Thrower and Other Stories. From it, see especially the story “Clair de Lune” (though the whole book is amazing):

“The moon was so bright I could not look at it, as if it were a night sun. The fierce whiteness seemed hot, but for some reason I thought of the glittering thick frost on the inside of the ice-cream freezer in a barely remembered store: the popsicles and ice-cream cups crusted in ice-crystals, the cold air like steam.”

This is one of my favorite short stories ever. The main character, a 15-year-old boy, goes out walking late on a summer night when he can’t sleep. His steps take him, accidentally-on-purpose, past the house of a girl he likes.

“Oh, I knew where I was going, didn’t want to know where I was going, in the warm blue air with little flutters of coolness in it, little bursts of grass-smell and leaf-smell, of lilac and fresh tar.” . . . “I could not understand why no one was out on a night like this. Was I the only one who’d been drawn out of hiding and heaviness by the summer moon?”

When he gets to the girl’s house, he discovers her and three other girls playing ball in the backyard:

“They were playing Wiffle ball in the brilliant moonlight, as though it were a summer’s day. Sonja was batting. I knew the three other girls, all of them in my classes: Marcia, pitching; Jeanie, taking a lead off first; Bernice, in the outfield, a few steps away from me. In the moonlight they were wearing clothes I’d never seen before, dungarees and shorts and sweatshirts and boys’ shirts, as if they were dressed up in a play about boys.” . . . “The girl-boys excited and disturbed me, as if I’d stumbled into some secret rite.”

He is invited to play Wiffle ball with them, which he does, and they all have a great time, an enchanted time that is totally apart from their mundane lives and the societal roles they play out at school. He talks with one of the girls in the kitchen. And finally, he makes his way homeward:

“. . . All this was as unique and unrepeatable as the history of an ancient kingdom. For I had wanted to take a little walk before going to bed, but I had stepped from my room into the first summer night, the only summer night.”

[Don’t you love that?! “The only summer night”! That brings to my ear echoes of Doc “Moonlight” Graham’s line in Field of Dreams about the one single half-inning that he played professional baseball, how he didn’t know then that that was the only time he’d play. And so it is with so many moments in our lives — those moments that Shieldmaiden calls “flow moments” and I call chairos, a Greek word for “the eternal now.” The same one won’t happen the same way twice, so we’d better be watching and always in full absorption mode. Or again, it’s like the line Marquee Movies cited from Casualties of War: what we do in this moment matters, because it may be the only one. As Bilbo wrote: “In every wood, in every spring, there is a different green.” Or Robert Frost, choosing between his two famous roads in the yellow wood: “Oh, I left the first for another day, / Yet knowing how way leads on to way / I doubted if I should ever come back.” The blooming of the sakura is precious and transcendent because it is so brief!]

But “Clair de Lune”: I won’t tell you precisely how the story ends, though it’s pure magic and virtuosity of storytelling. Again — it’s one of the best I’ve ever encountered, and Steven Millhauser (in these two books, anyway) is Mr. Summer Night. I get the books out nearly every year at about this time. Read them by night, when the moon is in the sky. That’s what you must promise me. (You’re allowed to use artificial lights, and you can be indoors. I’m a reasonable man.)

Here’s a poem of mine:

Eclipse Enigma

They say a mirror is the Moon;

How strange it seems to me!

It’s silver-brilliant for the Sun

Who gazes in when day is done;

Yet when Earth takes the place

In front to see her shining face,

The silver mirror of the Moon

Is dark as dark can be!

 

I like that one because it’s mindful of the science of a lunar eclipse: the moon is a blazing silver mirror while the sun is “looking into it” — but when Earth crowds up in front of the sun to “look into” the mirror, her own shadow blocks the light and makes the mirror black. (As I said, I like this poem a lot, but the one time I sent it out, it came back with a form rejection. Well, well.)

In my early twenties, before I’d made any real professional fiction sales, I was writing stories that wanted so badly to be there but weren’t quite. There are three or four I remember that went pretty much like this: A character in the story (not the narrator) is odd, eccentric, but hauntingly admirable and seems out of place in this world. The character teaches the protagonist a thing or two about how to live better. At the end, the character vanishes under highly mysterious circumstances, leaving the protagonist to conclude that s/he has passed beyond the fields we know into another reality, the one in which s/he belongs. Ta-duummm!

Yeah, I know. That’s why they weren’t getting published. But isn’t it significant that I kept returning to that theme of passing through the doorway out of this world and into one where things are better? And, yep, I’m still writing about that: in The Star Shard, Cymbril and Loric want to escape from the world of slavery into the Fey Country. In “The Bone Man,” Conlin essentially steps through a doorway of sorts into the Hallowe’ens of his youth. In Dragonfly, you get two for the price of one: a trip down a laundry chute and a lot of stairs into a kingdom of dark magic, and then the struggle for passage back into the world of air and mercy, which turns out to be the better place after all — or at least the place you want to live, though Harvest Moon is nice to visit. (While we’re on the subject of Harvest Moon: there’s the moon again! That fiery moon balloon, the Jolly Jack, casts its lurid shine over the ground.)

But here’s what I was getting to when I brought up those early stories of mine: There was one called “A Tale of the Moon.” I remember writing it in one evening (it was quite short) outdoors on a tiny verandah (in Japan), with my word-processor set up on a folding table, and using an oil-burning camping lamp for light. Yes, I certainly went to a lot of trouble having fun in those days! The story had a somewhat fairytale-like tone to it — not grittily realistic. It described the plight of a group of children in a town who feel oppressed and overburdened with school. The world of the outdoors and adventures and books-for-fun calls to them, but they have to suffer through lessons and lectures and piles of homework.

One by one, individually, the children begin to notice (peering out from the high windows of their house-prisons) that the moon every night seems to be getting bigger in the sky — as if it were coming closer. At school, they whisper about this together when they get a chance, before some teacher orders them back into line. They all agree: the moon is coming closer! Somehow, it gives them hope, because they know the moon is coming to save them, but they don’t know how.

One night, the moon lands in a big field at the edge of town. The kids all break from their houses. [In the story, we get no glimpse of loving families -- all the adults are Oppressors. I was exploring one narrow aspect of childhood, not going for a balanced picture.] They climb out of windows, scramble down trellises, burrow under hedges, hoist themselves over walls — and all, from near and far, from every corner of town, converge on the field, where the gigantic, glowing, beautiful moon sits.

A door opens in the moon’s side, a stairway folds down, and the children all pass inside. Then the stairway retracts, the door closes, and the moon lifts off again, gliding up into the dark sky.

Every day, the cruel old teachers sit alone in their classrooms and fiddle with their soulless teaching equipment, or pace the empty hallways in a daze — and every night, the moon seems a little smaller, a little farther away. [The End]

Heh, heh, heh! Yes, in a way, this story was a form of sweet revenge against the public school system. Don’t misunderstand me: I had many a wonderful teacher, and good friends, and I think the administrators meant well. But . . . you know. I was a kid. I’d rather have been reading and climbing trees.

Editors hated the story. (They were probably parents. Any parent, I think, on some level would be horrified by this story — it’s basically “The Pied Piper.”) It certainly wasn’t very well told. I remember one editor sending me a note that said it seemed like “much ado about nothing.” After all, school isn’t that bad, is it? [Well, yes. For some of us, it's that bad.]

But . . . now we’ve got the idea of the moon as a doorway — my, how these posts interlink, an endless chain of daisies!

I recycled that idea, partly, in a story that did sell, “Ren and The Shadow Imps.” This story tells of a time when the moon was much closer to Earth, and if you were really determined, when it passed over a high mountain or the top of a tall building, you might just manage to get aboard the moon . . . and of course, there’s a frosty, magical kingdom inside . . . which Ren has to reach in order to secure help to save the world below. (Interestingly, the story provides a reason for why the moon is much higher in the sky now.)

Well. . . . This post is longish, and it’s more a ramble than anything coherent. But moonlight is like that, I suppose. Here’s the main focus for discussion (though you’re not limited to these questions — I think we’re often better off when you have minimal direction — so go ahead and clamber out the window and don’t listen to the cruel old teachers):

1. Are there uses of the moon, moonlight, or moonlit scenes from books or movies that you’d like to talk about?

2. I don’t want to invade anyone’s personal life, but are there any of your own moonlight experiences that you’d care to share with us all? (I realize some stories will be intimate and private — I’m not after those! Just the ones you see fit to tell us about: maybe the view from your window as a kid, and how the world looked different at night; maybe a restless walk you took in your student days . . . you get the idea.)

Finally, here are a few pictures:

I discovered an amazing place today -- within about a ten-minute walk of my apartment!

I discovered an amazing place today -- within about a ten-minute walk of my apartment!

 

This is the Toyano Inverted Bamboo Grove, declared a government designated natural monument on October 12, 1922.

This is the Toyano Inverted Bamboo Grove, declared a government designated natural monument on October 12, 1922.

 

It's "inverted" because, whereas most bamboo has branches that angle upward, this extremely rare variety, called <i>hachiku</i>, has branches that bend sharply downward.

It's "inverted" because, whereas most bamboo has branches that angle upward, this extremely rare variety, called hachiku, has branches that bend sharply downward.

 

According to legend, this priest, Shinran, founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism, was spreading his doctrine here, in the Toyano region. . . .

According to legend, this priest, Shinran, founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism, was spreading his doctrine here, in the Toyano region. . . .

 

In this very grove, Shinran thrust his walking-stick into the earth, and it took root and sprouted -- yet with down-bending branches, as if the bamboo were growing <i>backwards</i> out of the ground.

In this very grove, Shinran thrust his walking-stick into the earth, and it took root and sprouted -- yet with down-bending branches, as if the bamboo were growing backwards out of the ground.

 

Hence, the "inverted" part of the grove's name.

Hence, the "inverted" part of the grove's name.

 

This deep, dark grove, right here in my own neighborhood, is officially classified as one of the Seven Mysteries of Echigo! (Echigo is the old name for Niigata, just as Tokyo used to be Edo.)

This deep, dark grove, right here in my own neighborhood, is officially classified as one of the Seven Mysteries of Echigo! (Echigo is the old name for Niigata, just as Tokyo used to be Edo.)

 

Enchanted doorway, anyone?

Enchanted doorway, anyone?

 

It's surprisingly dark within: this picture was taken at about 3:00 p.m. today.

It's surprisingly dark within: this picture was taken at about 3:00 p.m. today.

 

There are springy, well-maintained paths all the way through it, and not a scrap of litter.

There are springy, well-maintained paths all the way through it, and not a scrap of litter.

 

Here's the temple half-engulfed by it near one end of the grove: the Temple of Inverted Bamboo.

Here's the temple half-engulfed by it near one end of the grove: the Temple of Inverted Bamboo.

 

The shadowy corners lookin' good. . . .

The shadowy corners lookin' good. . . .

 

This dragon presides over the water devout Buddhists drink (with the dipper provided) as they enter the temple grounds, to purify themselves.

This dragon presides over the water devout Buddhists drink (with the dipper provided) as they enter the temple grounds, to purify themselves.

 

So, yes, this dragon is definitely more "wise, powerful guardian" than "brute beast."

So, yes, this dragon is definitely more "wise, powerful guardian" than "brute beast."

 

This picture has no caption. Or . . . it <i>didn't</i>, a minute ago.

This picture has no caption. Or . . . it didn't, a minute ago.

 

I'll let this tree have the last word.

I'll let this tree have the last word.

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16 Responses to “Bright Regent of the Heavens”

  1. fsdthreshold Says:

    [My stats are showing that 5 people have read this post so far this morning. If you're one of those 5, you may want to skim through it again, because I fine-tuned it a little. If you read the part about Doc Graham, then you're good. I think I've ferreted out the typos, too.]

  2. Catherine Says:

    I’m at the library, so I didn’t start fussing at my finicky slo-o-o-o-o-ow connection and I actually took a deep look at the pictures! And now I’m terribly jealous! I used to live where there was so much bamboo, though not the inverted kind; and definitely not a grove like that. The closest we have in my neighborhood is a Japanese-style stroll garden completely devoid of bamboo, but containing the typical winding paths and curving bridge. (Aren’t those called “moon bridges”? I seem to remember reading that somewhere. Or maybe it’s just one of those here is called a moon bridge . . .) I have only ever met a stranger there; so it’s almost like “my” personal garden, though I don’t lift a finger to maintain it. The fact that it is maintained is often my only clue that someone else has been there. And the pond, in all the time that I’ve known it, is dry as bones. But I still love that place. The inverted bamboo grove reminded me of that.

    And, now — back on topic! I, unfortunately, don’t have anything moon-related to remember, except for those winter mornings when the moon is low in the west and I am awake to see it and feel terribly guilty for turning on the light. I actually used to be a bit irritated with the moon because it ruined my star-gazing; but that was simply because astronomer’s books told me to be mad at the moon. The city lights wreaked worse havoc, and I could go on and on . . . well, once I was riding on a Chinese sleeper bus (it’s a bus that travels at night, with bunks instead of seats, narrow bunks impossible to fit a large-boned Caucasian body without some squashing and lack of sleep) and it was a clear winter’s night, and we were plunging down the winding roads of a rural, sleeping province. The stars were incredible. The moon, however, had absconded, so it didn’t add anything to the mix, unfortunately. But I have never been satisfied with city stars again after seeing that.

    And now I’m off-topic again. I better quit while I’m ahead!

  3. I wonder where the pandas are Says:

    It is probably a good thing they are not native to Japan, because the place looks like panda heaven? AND writer heaven! I wonder how long it will take you to get down there with your tech aids and begin writing away?!?

    I will not spoil it for Shieldmaiden or anyone else who has not yet read it, but the chapter “Of the Sun and the Moon” from The Silmarillion — wow! I love(d) it and the long shadows of the host of Fingolfin fallling on Middle Earth at the first rising of Tilion …

    My entire life I have been more a child of the night, so I love the moon and stars infinitely more than the Sun. I am also the anti-Fred (as has been noted before) in that I largely detest heat and humidity and therefore prefer fall, when it is cool and dry and the moon is slowly beginning to overtake the sun in hours spent illuminating our little blue disc.

    I have already discussed winter walks in snowy woods under the light of a full moon, so I eagerly await hearing from others.

  4. Elizabeth Says:

    Ah, the moon. I love the Moon. It really should be capitalized, shouldn’t it? The Moon. There is something so haunting about it and stirring. As much as I loved school, I would have crawled out of my window and run across fields to reach the Moon. I love to see it in the night sky, or during the day when it’s a ghost barely holding on in the bright blue of the sky. (You know, we miss it then, if we don’t stop to look & wonder.)

    I can add some purely historical/archaeological “trivia” about the Moon. Humanity has had a long history and fascination with the Moon. I read recently that some archaeologists/anthropologists who have studied ancient cave paintings have come to believe that certain dots, strikes and other marks collected on cave walls are actually the earliest form of a human calendar, based on the cycle of the Moon. I can see our ancestors, like us mentally and physically, but without our technology, anchoring their concept of time to the waxing and waning of the Moon. Finding solace, and dependability in the constant cycle of the Moon. I’d like to think that it was recognizing the cycle of the Moon that first led man to study the stars.

    (Take a moment to think what it is like to live in a world without lamps, without flashlights, without city lights; to live in a world that is utterly dark at night and how large the sky must be, and how great and wondrous a presence the Moon would have in such a world; what it would be again, if our modern world were to fall away. If I may steal from Tolkien — “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”)

    I must thank you, Fred, for focusing on the Moon in this blog. As I’ve been writing and prodding and trying to iron out my story & the main character & her role, I have been looking for a key piece to the puzzle. Pondering the Moon & the lunar cycle, I was given the missing piece.

  5. Chris Says:

    Wow, a blog entry about the moon! Perhaps you are familiar with THIS SONG (one of the greatest songs about the moon), called “We Like the Moon”:

    http://www.rathergood.com/moon_song

    But that isn’t all to be sung about the moon, perhaps you are aware that the moon is made of gooses feet?

    http://www.rathergood.com/gooses

    (I don’t think one can say enough good stuff about “Rathergood.com”)

  6. SwordLily Says:

    The Moon has been an inspiration and a good friend to me for all my life, as I expect she has been for many. I live near a city so I see very few stars through my window, but the Moon is always there so I’m never lonely. I don’t know who it was but once someone pointed out that the moon follows you wherever you go. One time I was in the car at night and I was watching the Moon as the landscape slipped by beyond the window. She would never disappeared, always there passed the next building or copse of trees. This was a comforting feeling, making the little me feel very important, that the Moon would care enough to always try to keep me in sight.
    Whenever I look at the Moon in the night sky, void of all but the bravest stars, I know I am looking at the great lady of the sky. Even though she has less attendants in places like these that do not welcome the stars she is still here for whatever lost soul needs her. She is truly a great lady and represents comfort for me even though for others the moon can be strange and frightening, especially on Halloween. Those Moons are creepy, but instead of getting scared I want to paint is- I know I’m weird ^_^.

    Elizabeth- Yes indeed, the Moon should be capitalized :)

    I wonder where the pandas- I know what you mean about liking the night more then the day. I also hear you on hating humidity, that (besides suncream) is the number on reason I hate the summer.

  7. Marquee Movies Says:

    This blog has stirred up so many images, real and imagined! You know, we’re coming on the 40th anniversary of humans landing on the moon – July 20, 1969. (This reminds me of a sad line that Michael Crichton wrote in an introduction to one of his books. He was trying to show how vastly different our world is in many ways to that of those living in 1900. One statement was, “Who could have imagined that over the next hundred years, mankind would land on the moon….and then lose interest?”) Some great moon images – E.T. and Elliott flying across the surface of the moon – one of the most famous images in history. Another great moon moment (or Moon moment – I agree, it SHOULD be capitalized!) is from the 1902 Georges Melies film, A Trip To The Moon – this has the image of the rocketship landing in the eye of the moon’s face. I also love the fact that the moon in the fake world built for Truman Burbank is actually the control room for the entire city in The Truman Show. And I loved the Caldecott winner “Owl Moon,” illustrated by John Schoenherr, and text by Jane Yolen.
    By the way, Fred, GREAT pictures! Keep posting more – we love seeing images like this!

  8. I wonder where the pandas are Says:

    The following is the opening of an editorial I wrote for the newspaper at which I am employed, The Perry Chief. It was published Jan 5, 2007 and earned third place in the Iowa Newspaper Foundation contest for “best stand alone column.” (it is the nature of all journalists to love reading what they have written. Anyone wishing for the full column — and you’d have to be nuts to want it — may email me at: sports@theperrychief.com).

    Imagine, if you will, the course of history if the powers that be in Lisbon had decided in 1420 that Prince Henry the Navigator’s rounding of the Cape of Good Hope was not that important after all.
    Picture the Spanish court refusing to fund Magellan after Columbus’ discoveries, or the English and Dutch deciding Drake, Hudson and Vespucci were simply too expensive to support.
    Contemplate the United States, which successfully sent six two-man missions to the surface of the moon from 1969-1973, deciding to forgo an aggressive manned exploration of space and allowing four full decades to pass before American number 13 stood on our only natural satellite.
    That is what is set to happen, as NASA now says it will be 2013, not 2009 as some first thought, before another manned lunar mission is launched. And that is the best case scenario…

    Sorry to so arrogantly spout off, but Marquee Movies caused my reaction by his running of Crichton’s comments! ha ha

    Maybe someone out there can help me: I have been hunting for 2-3 years for a book I was told was written by an English author. Of course, I foolishly have lost the author’s name and the title of the book, but the jist was a story of an Earth and Luna in which the Moon has a thin but breathable atmosphere, some surface water and vegetation and how that impacted the history of the Earth in the story. Does anyone have any idea what this book is called or who the author is?

  9. Chris Says:

    I too am saddened that we “lost interest in the moon”. I am always exceedingly happy when rovers go to Mars and I eagerly anticipate the images and info returned. I’ve even tried rolling some of the data into geology classes I have taught to keep classes “current”.

    But just today I heard about a C.S. Lewis book I’d never heard of called _Perelandra_. In it Lewis apparently has a character who stands in as the avatar of “immoral” excess of materialist science. Lewis describes this villain (Dr. Weston) thusly: “It is the idea that humanity, having sufficiently corrupted the planet where it arose, must at all costs contrive to seed itself over a larger area: that the vast astronomical distances which are God’s quarantine regulations must somehow be overcome. This is for a start. But beyond this lies the sweet poison of the false infinite–the wild dream that planet after planet, system after system, in the end galaxy after galaxy, can be forced to sustain, everywhere and forever, the sort of life which is contained in the loins of our species. The destruction or enslavement of other species in the universe, if such there are, is to these minds a welcome corollary. In Professor Weston the power had at last met the dream.”

    I am reminded of a bumper sticker I saw the other day: “Earth First! (We’ll mine the other planets later.)”

    Speaking as materialist scientist I must say I disagree with the assessment (but I am now going to have to find Lewis’s book and read it!) As a scientist I can say usually we scientists are driven to poke and prod and explore for no better reason than we haven’t been there or poked that particular thing yet.

    No nefarious reasons to overrun the universe. More, like authors who want to explore the world of “ideas and feelings”, we want to explore for that reason alone.

    In fact, the idea of overruning everything with humanity kind of ruins the exploration. Kind of like mounting a manned expedition to Wal Mart.

    I suspect the reason we “lost interest in the Moon” is precisely because we’d “done it” and a great deal of the drive was the Cold War. There’s still a LOT to learn from the moon, but it’s hard to send a person or two, and that requires a national will driven to throw tons of money at something. And apparently for the U.S. that means we have to fighting the commies.

    The really neat stuff is still on the table. When we send people to Mars, that’ll be the real “show”. I’m looking forward to that!

    I’m still quite interested in seeing if any of our unmanned probes find anything like life anywhere. (Europa? Speaking of “moons”, there’s one to think about!)

  10. I wonder where the pandas are Says:

    “All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landing there. Use them together. Use them in peace.” (name the movie, anyone?)

    Speaking of moons, Titan has proven very interesting, and I urge Chris and anyone intereset of the matter to go to the June 26 Time magazine (or its online outlet) and check out the photos and story about Enceladus, another Saturian moon. Great stuff!

    As for Luna, there may be ice locked in the poles. Lets go see!!

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      That’s the movie 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey! I remember liking that film so much that I saw it twice in one weekend during college.

      Moisevich (to Dr. Floyd, who is polishing the giant radar dish): Neatness! You’ll make a fine vife!

      “Doctor Floyd, you are not a very practical man.”
      “Look out there and tell me what is practical!”

      “Something’s going to happen.”
      “What?! What’s going to happen?!”
      “Something wonderful.”

      I was making a direct reference to this movie when I said the “Glory Day” dragon was a shape for something that has no shape, an expression of something that can’t be expressed. Floyd says that about the Monolith in this movie, during the ending narration.

  11. mileposter Says:

    The moon is made of green cheese–I know–that’s not magical, but I tell my students that all the time, when they say outrageous things…. As for magic, I’m listening to the Elgar Second Symphony–now that was a magical time for me. I stuffed four of my students into my little car and we headed off to the mountains of West Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. It was high summer, and the atmosphere was rarefied. Arrival in the Land of the Sky was impossibly beautiful, with fireflies in the night and the intoxicating fragrance of honeysuckle and mountain laurel, under the light of the moon. We went swimming, fishing, and mountain climbing. It lasted only a few days. Two weeks later I went again, for the mundane purpose of picking up donated computers. Didn’t catch any fish the second time, but there was still a little of the magic left in the air.

    It’s a magical recording, too, if you can find it. Sir John Barbirolli is conducting his beloved Halle Orchestra, and he can be heard to groan in ecstasy during the final coda.

  12. fsdthreshold Says:

    For any readers who know Tim R. from our school days in Taylorville, he just joined this community–LITERALLY “another country heard from,” because apparently he’s in Germany. He just left a detailed comment on the posting “Books, Part 2: Fred’s Lists.”

  13. mileposter Says:

    Right after I posted my reply last night, I realized that I had neglected to mention bamboo. There’s a substantial stand of bamboo on the south side of the Georgetown Branch Trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring, Maryland–part of our Northwest Connection to get Mileposters riders from the junction of the Capital Crescent Trail and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, in Washington, DC, to our actual destination in Berwyn Heights, Maryland, ten or so days from Pittsburgh. The three Lutheran pastors from West Virginia who comprise the Tour de Revs, raising money riding some 5,000 miles in 100 days for Lutheran World Hunger, are riding a bamboo triplet (bike for three people). And I just got a free pair of bamboo socks along with a bike jersey order.

  14. SwordLily Says:

    I hear you mileposter, I need to write something about those wonderful pictures of bamboo (and the dragon, that fellow sure looks fierce, I wouldn’t want to be getting water under his watch). I think my inspiration from these pictures would best be summed up in a Haiku:

    Straight, quiet shadows
    A dream of green blooms under
    What will I find here?

    I’m not very good a picking out syllables so it might not be quite a haiku, but whatever ^_^.

    And more about the Moon: there was a not quite half a moon the night before last and it outlined the deep blue clouds in such a way that it looked like I was stared down at a mysterious world with continents not at all like ours. The moon makes the night sky so much more interesting doesn’t it *smile*.

  15. I wonder where the pandas are Says:

    Hail Linolas, Redoubtable Ranger! Great to see you have joined the party, as it were! I’d love to hear from you. My email is listed in a post above. Enjoy this blog … it is the best one on the net!

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