Reflections on Darkness: four new metaphors for darkness

Reflections on Darkness: Words to Light Up Our Darkest Months” is a guest blog curated by Brianna Kocka. The task of each guest blogger is to reflect through their chosen writing style on the darkest days of the year. I was lucky to contribute a poem last time after Drew Worthley put in a good word for me.

This time I mustered all my audacity and decided to challenge the LIGHT AS GOOD / DARKNESS AS EVIL metaphor which pervades western thought to such an extent that we can forget that it is not true, at least not in any physical sense. The FULL POST has a preamble about the potency and pervasiveness of metaphor, but the heart of the article is a proposal of four new metaphors for darkness. I suggest that if we add them to our metaphorical landscape, we can find more beauty in the dark.

 (1) LIGHT AS NOISE / DARKNESS AS QUIET A bright light makes us squint and cover our eyes in much the same way as a loud noise makes us cover our ears. The daytime is a hectic burst of vibrant activity, much of which thankfully subsides at the end of the day. As the calming twilight falls we welcome the silence. When the glare of the day is over, we can soften into the night. When we need to escape the chatter in our heads, we should breathe deeply; our mind will dim. If we are mindful to practice, we will slowly approach the gentle silence of endarkenment.

(2) LIGHT AS PLUTONIC / DARKNESS AS ROMANTIC “You know the night time / is the right time / to be / with the one you love”. So goes the Nappy Brown song, made famous by Ray Charles. Plutonic relationships – friendship, commerce – are happy at midday in the town square; not weakened by being watched. But there is another connection we crave, that thrives under cover, in moments that are less exposed. “Turn your lights down low” sings Bob Marley “And pull your window curtains / oh and let the moon come shining in / into our life again”.

(3) LIGHT AS PUBLIC / DARKNESS AS INTIMATE Light is broadcast. The glare of the sunshine is an open public announcement to anyone who cares to listen. Darkness is a whisper to someone specific. As night draws in, we draw close those with whom we most want to be connected. Intimacy isn’t shiny; her shadows speak only in confidence. People we value darken our doors. And those who, whether it’s clumsiness or malice, indiscriminately shine light on everything cannot be trusted with a secret.

(4) LIGHT AS TOIL / DARKNESS AS REST We praise the daytime, but light makes us work. Traditionally the sun called us to hard labor; now fluorescent lights extend our toil long after the sun has descended. Welcome the darkness for God knows we need more sleep. If we cannot extinguish light, we darken ourselves for rest by closing the lids of our eyes. Only when the light is gone can we forget it’s bright call to stay alert. Our workload often dims during the winter, when longer nights tempt us into deeper sleep. Let us learn when to turn the lights off.


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