mbfitzmahan: St. Mary's Cathedral - San Francisco
mbfitzmahan: St. Mary’s Cathedral – San Francisco

Kay Adamson forwarded an article from “Brain Pickings,”  in the theme of illumination.

Yesterday, I went on an urban journey with Katie Fitzmahan in San Francisco.  We couldn’t help but be drawn into the light.  Light on The Bridge, light out on the water, light in the cathedral.

Excerpts fromBrain PickingsAnnie Dillard on How to Live with Mystery, the Two Ways of Looking, and the Secret of Seeing.  Thank you to Maria Popova.

“[Illumination,] although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise… I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind. Light, be it particle or wave, has force: you rig a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.”

mbfitzmahan - San Francisco. Golden Gate Bridge
mbfitzmahan – San Francisco. Golden Gate Bridge

 

“I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam.

 

 

 

Illustration by Alessandro Sanna from ‘The River.’ Click image for more.

‘Beams of Light Through Glass’ (1960) from Berenice Abbott’s ‘Documenting Science.’ Click image for more.

The darkness, indeed, suits us — too much illumination can be paralyzing. (This happened quite literally when electric light was first introduced, but it is also part of our spiritual pathology as we spend much of our lives almost completely opaque to ourselves.) Citing one of Van Gogh’s stirring letters to his brother“Still,” he wrote, “a great deal of light falls on everything.”

The Bowery in the 1930s. Photograph by Berenice Abbott from ‘Changing New York.’ Click image for more.
Manhattan in the 1930s. Photograph by Berenice Abbott from ‘Changing New York.’ Click image for more.
mbfitzmahan: St. Mary's Cathedral - San Francisco
mbfitzmahan: St. Mary’s Cathedral – San Francisco

 

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