The real behind the real

Mirror room, designed by Yayoi Kusama, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

I passed into a lucent still abode
And saw as in a mirror crystalline
An ancient Force ascending serpentine
The unhasting spirals of the aeonic road.

Earth was a cradle for the arriving god
And man but a half-dark half-luminous sign
Of the transition of the veiled Divine
From Matter’s sleep and the tormented load

Of ignorant life and death to the Spirit’s light.
Mind liberated swam Light’s ocean vast,
And life escaped from its grey tortured line;

I saw Matter illumining its parent Night.
The soul could feel into infinity cast
Timeless God-bliss the heart incarnadine.

Sri Aurobindo, born this day in 1872
Image result for soul into infinity

I must go down to the sea again

John Ireland was born 140 years ago today.


Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

— John Masefield


Crooke’s Radiometer

You’ve seen these in the gift shop of the science museum.  Inside an evacuated bulb is a 4-vane windmill, each vane black on one side and white on the other.  Shine light on it, and it spins.

Image result for crookes radiometer gif

Imagine a tiny pea-shooter aimed at the vane.  If the pea sticks to the wall, it gives all its momentum to the wall, pushing it forward.  But if the pea bounces off the wall, it gives twice its momentum, because the momentum of the pea is reversed on the way out.  Photons of light have only a tiny momentum, but the principle is the same.  The light that is absorbed on the black vanes gives its momentum to the vane, while the light reflected from the white vanes imparts a double push, because the light coming in and the light leaving have equal and opposite momentum.

This is the explanation for the motion of the vane that I imagined.  It was proposed by Sir William Crooke when he sent in the results of his experiment to the science journal of the Royal Society in 1973.  The person assigned to review the submission was none other than James Clerk Maxwell, who had explained the electromagnetic nature of light with the 4 equations that are now associated with his name.  Maxwell noticed that the vane spins in the wrong direction, as though the push on the black side were stronger than on the white side.

The real explanation, and the rest of the story

Science of Happiness

What he doesn’t say is that sociology looks at the averages, and there is a great deal of individual variation around the averages.  Gilbert is fun and entertaining, but perhaps more useful is Haidt.

It’s about being in relationship and feeling you can make a difference in the lives of others.

In the I Ching, Lake=Joy

The lake is my adopted place of birth
Where easily can I renew naïve
Sensation, relishing what I perceive,
Appreciating living nature’s worth.

My pace is slow, but freer than on earth.
Viscosity and buoancy relieve
Enough of effort that I can believe
In joy that lasts, a self-sustaining mirth.

No need for any difference, no dearth,
No care for what I have or will receive;
I let my thoughts devolve on what I weave,
And drift from lake to river, thence to firth…

I’m confident the pow’r of my devotion
Transports me ever closer to the ocean. 

— Josh Mitteldorf
#58 from the I Ching Sonnet Project


Just Pretend You’re Someone Else

Self-analysis is notoriously difficult.  We lie about ourselves, to ourselves, and we believe our own lies.

Here’s a trick that can help with insight into yourself: Use the 3rd person in your diaries , in talking about your emotions and dreams and history.  Two hundred years ago, Samuel Taylor Coleridge dubbed it illeism.

Training for Wisdom: The Illeist Diary Method
Aeon article by David Robson
Journal article preprint by Igor Grossmann

<p><em>The Mirror</em> (<em>c</em>1900) by William Merritt Chase. <em>Courtesy Cincinnati Art Museum/Wikipedia</em></p>