I learned about the Cree injunction against writing down sacred stories. The author or the article didn’t give a reason but I have a few thoughts: oral culture is necessarily fragile because it needs to be passed down face to face on the land (that’s why technology often makes us feel alienated because it takes us out of place and the face to face) and because like Auden said poetry lives on and modifies in the guts of the living, so this transmission should be as intimate as possible- still, I have tremendous faith in the power of the written word too and that a good word will have good effects- and that good word will make you feel at once at home and connected abroad
I learned that there is light in black holes- anyone outside them just can’t see it.
I also learned why snow is so beautiful- it’s actually clear but looks pure white with light reflecting and twisting off all the intricacies of snowflakes- wow!
I didn’t learn this on the news but light is the only thing that acts as both a particle and a wave- let there be light! So, it makes sense in that most powerful sentence that life started with water and then light: and God said, let there be light: and there was light.
There is a profound sense of the sublime in biodiversity- from the seasons to the yellow lady slipper and the giant redwoods to phytoplankton and the sperm whale.
Kant split up the sublime into the mathematical (infinity overwhelms the imagination but not our intellect) and the dynamic (terrifying physical phenomena).
Walt Whitman expresses a very American kind of sublime that is similar to what Gerald Manley Hopkins described as ‘pied beauty’: that all of the strange and beautiful and wild and tame, high and low, country and cosmopolitan culture, trout, mountains, farm fields, trains, screwdrivers, trowels and all the rest are part of a sublime harmony.
I regret this mild winter in southern ontario because the seasons and the great bird migrations are very much a part of that sublimity for me. I took the ferry to amherst island and saw a snowy owl, majestic, in the only snow drift in a field and a rough legged hawk, birds of the north, the tundra. It was raining the last time I was ice fishing. I haven’t seen any redpolls this year. The Canadian sublime is the harmony in the seasons and in cultural diversity.