Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Venus in Transit

Seven men of Venus came traveling, and with them came a box....

 I tried to read about the astrological significance of Venus crossing against the path of the Sun yesterday. It was unreadable - a bunch of ridiculous babble and then a few broad sweeping statements about the power of women awakening and the new feminine revolution. Transits of Venus happen in pairs, the last one was in 2004, so I'm doubly confused now because wouldn't that have meant that the last 8 years should have been the revolution? Or was the first Transit responsible for the recent onslaught against womens' rights, and now the pair is closed and some people are going to pay for their oppressions? Now the Seven are coming to wreak revenge on the male hierarchy? If one believes in the Seven, then one knows they come not bearing solutions but strife and contortion.

I'm just making the Seven up you know, it's stuck in my head. I'll work on that later.

At times like this, it's best to remember that this is an important special event not because of any weirdo fate garblings, but because it's fucking cool. It's a reminder that we are small and the universe is large, and huge bodies of rock are out there floating around in synchronous orchestration. And tons of other people on the planet are all being reminded of that at the same time. Why do we need a meaning beyond that? That seems pretty heavy on it's own.

Carey and I went to Edgewater to watch the transit. There was a huge wonderful crowd there, hundreds and hundreds of dyed in wool dorks full of smiling enthusiasm, with their insanely expensive telescopes and goodwill towards mankind. It was as if every scientific santa claus from my childhood had been gathered at one place - the bearded men who explained candlemaking at Hale Farms, the father of a kid in school who ran the rock department at the museum, the other father who organized our Young Astronauts field trips, the history teacher who gave a lecture on every meaning hidden in American Pie, the woman who led bird watching tours at Rocky River with her sensible sneakers. Every really dorky, smart, kind of socially awkward but generous and warmhearted adult I ever looked up to as a child. Someone took all their essences and distilled it into this crowd, peering through their welders glass and NASA provided cardboard filters, at a planet crossing in front of a star. At sunset, as the last bit of gold dipped below the water line, the entire crowd clapped. As we were leaving, walking across the field where people were flying giant kites, the speakers were playing James Taylor, and neither of us could stop smiling. 

Then today Ray Bradbury died. He was 91, which is a respectable age for anyone, let alone a writer. I am sad but full of gratitude. So here are some photos of the best people in Cleveland, and here are some quotes from a very talented man.


“Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.” 

 “Oh, what strange wonderful clocks women are. They nest in Time. They make the flesh that holds fast and binds eternity. They live inside the gift, know power, accept, and need not mention it. Why speak of time when you are Time, and shape the universal moments, as they pass, into warmth and action?”

“There was a smell of Time in the air tonight. He smiled and turned the fancy in his mind. There was a thought. What did time smell like? Like dust and clocks and people. And if you wondered what Time sounded like it sounded like water running in a dark cave and voices crying and dirt dropping down upon hollow box lids, and rain. And, going further, what did Time look like? Time look like snow dropping silently into a black room or it looked like a silent film in an ancient theater, 100 billion faces falling like those New Year balloons, down and down into nothing. That was how Time smelled and looked and sounded. And tonight-Tomas shoved a hand into the wind outside the truck-tonight you could almost taste time.”


“The stuff of nightmare is their plain bread. They butter it with pain. They set their clocks by deathwatch beetles, and thrive the centuries. They were the men with the leather-ribbon whips who sweated up the Pyramids seasoning it with other people's salt and other people's cracked hearts. They coursed Europe on the White Horses of the Plague. They whispered to Caesar that he was mortal, then sold daggers at half-price in the grand March sale. Some must have been lazing clowns, foot props for emperors, princes, and epileptic popes. Then out on the road, Gypsies in time, their populations grew as the world grew, spread, and there was more delicious variety of pain to thrive on. The train put wheels under them and here they run down the log road out of the Gothic and baroque; look at their wagons and coaches, the carving like medieval shrines, all of it stuff once drawn by horses, mules, or, maybe, men.”

“When I was a boy my grandfather died, and he was a sculptor. He was also a very kind man who had a lot of love to give the world, and he helped clean up the slum in our town; and he made toys for us and he did a million things in his lifetime; he was always busy with his hands. And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn't crying for him at all, but for all the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them just the way he did. He was individual. He was an important man. I've never gotten over his death. Often I think what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands. He shaped the world. He DID things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.”


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