We are defined by light. Standing in light, courting the divine.
The phrase “radical light” came into my head involuntarily, like a muscle feeling the sudden urge to move. It is such a beautiful phrase, denoting both longing and fulfillment of a complex, yet simple ideal. I knew that it must come from somewhere in the collective unconscious so I did what we do these days, a web search. I grew up on sweet, little index cards in rows of drawers at the library and miss the smell of libraries and the feel of old books and the interaction with real people in a physical space. Still, the reams of knowledge and information at one’s fingertips these days is extraordinary and has its own magic, I suppose.
I first came across an A. R. Ammons poem, He Held Radical Light, which is below. Further searches produced film festivals called Radical Light and an article about Louis Armstrong. When the phrase first popped into my head, the spur of it was the universal desire to create a better world. To view light and the good impetuses of living beings as having a radical component, much like an atom with a dangling covalent bond–meaning, they are somewhat unstable and can create chemical reactions that are outside perhaps the norm of molecular and atomic relations. The word “radical” comes from the Latin word for root, radix. The fundamental, of or relating to origin. So light is our fundamental state of being, and we don’t need to follow ordinary and prescribed routes of existence. We can forge our own way, based on a sense of unique and inspired self. This is radical light in action, a fierce glow in the present, portending even more beauty.
He Held Radical Light
A. R. Ammons
He held radical light
as music in his skull: music
over ridges immanences of evening light
back over the furrows of his brain
into the dark, shuddered,
shot out again
in long swaying swirls of sound:
reality had little weight in his transcendence
had trouble keeping
his feet on the ground, was
terrified by that
and liked himself, and others, mostly
nevertheless, when the
light churned and changed
his head to music, nothing could keep him
off the mountains, his
head back, mouth working,
wrestling to say, to cut loose
from the high unimaginable hook:
released, hidden from stars, he ate,
burped, said he was like any one
of us: demanded he
was like any one of us.
Below is a picture I took at Joshua Tree in March 2014. The sun was setting and I snapped pictures every 5 seconds or so as the sun dipped lower and lower, casting purple shadows and a light that was as close to gold as I have ever seen. In a lovely intertwining of synchronicity, A. R. Ammons has a poem called “Joshua Tree.”
May we all be bathed in light.
The sun, the moon, and the stars.