On Light and Dark

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The following is not ground-breaking or deep by any means, but just a few observations that I have had about the general concepts of Light and Dark.

Most simply, Dark is described as an absence of Light, but does that then denote an inherent lack of anything that would be considered good or useful, whereas only “the Light” contains those good and useful things? Or is that merely a subjective overlay on what are, in fact, two complementary modes of operation that are each required in measure for life to exist?

Dark appears to be the base of the universe — when we view the cosmos, we see an endless expanse of dark, illuminated by spots of light created by suns and the suns’ reflections on other bodies. All of those suns could potentially be extinguished, and then only dark would exist. Yet the suns do exist, bringing forth the Light and Life that Dark cannot. Light is considered the active principle, the sudden blaze of activity and vibrancy that dispels Dark. So, what can Dark offer? Dark offers rest, and in a sense, we can think of Light and Dark as Radiance and Rest. Each exposes the other and is dependent on the other for survival. Are they mated? Do they give birth to each other? Do they devour one another? Perhaps each acts as the lifeblood of the other, hidden from view as its complement is in the forefront, yet pulsingly present nonetheless.

There is the obvious example of day and night as examples of Light and Dark and how we react to their modalities — we generally radiate activity during the day, and find our rest at night. But here we see something a little more obscure, that the modes of Light and Dark have some overlap. For the day shows the full picture, essentially a completeness in which we see it all, which could be seen as a kind of restful finality, while the night conceals what it yet contains, and in darkness it seethes with potential activity not-yet-born. This is what gives the Dark its mysterious, expectant quality. Dark and Light could thus also be termed Potential and Fulfillment.

During the day, we see the Sun’s light, but if we could observe the Sun and Earth from a great distance, we would see them embraced by the deep darkness of space. At night, we see darkness, and yet the Sun is still there, simply hidden from our vision by the Earth’s position. If you go into a completely dark room, where there is absolutely no light coming in, your eyes can still perceive bits of light before you; you can also be in an environment of overwhelming light and be temporarily blinded by it. I think that these examples illustrate that Light and Dark intersect continuously.

This essay was mostly an attempt to look beyond some of the usual words used for Light and Dark, such as Masculine/Feminine, Positive/Negative, and Good/Evil.

 

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Ligotti on the Horror of Light and Darkness

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Just a little doubt slipped into the mind, a little trickle of suspicion in the bloodstream, and all those eyes of ours, one by one, open up to the world and see its horror. Then: no belief or body of laws will guard you; no friend, no counselor, no appointed personage will save you; no locked door will protect you; no private office will hide you. Not even the solar brilliance of a summer day will harbor you from horror. For horror eats the light and digests it into darkness.

–Thomas Ligotti. “Professor Nobody’s Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror,” from Songs of a Dead Dreamer. Subterranean Press, 2010 (orig. pub. 1986).

Ungrund

“For out of nature is God a Mysterium,  i.e. the Nothing; for from out of nature is the Nothing, which is an eye of eternity, a groundless eye, which stands nowhere nor sees, for it is the Ungrund and the selfsame eye is a will,  i.e. a longing for manifestation, to discern the Nothing”.  The Ungrund thus is the Nothing, the groundless eye of eternity, yet together with this it is will, without foundation, unfathomable and indeterminate will. But this — is a Nothing, which is … “an hunger to be something”. And together with this the Ungrund is freedom. Within the darkness of the Ungrund there is ablaze a fire and this is freedom, a freedom meonic with potential. According to Boehme, freedom is contrary to nature, but nature has issued forth from freedom. Freedom is a semblance of the Nothing, but from it issues something. The hunger of freedom, of the groundless will to something has to be satisfied: … “The Nothing loves to make itself manifest from out of freedom in the deathly darkness, for then the Nothing wills not to be the Nothing, and cannot be the Nothing” The freedom of the Ungrund is neither light, nor darkness, neither good, nor evil. Freedom lies within the darkness and thirsts for the light. And freedom is the cause of light. … “Freedom exists and is set within the darkness, and over against the dark desire is still yet the desire for light, it seizes the darkness with the eternal will; and the darkness aspires after the light of freedom and cannot attain it, for then it passes with desire over into itself, and attains in itself but to the darkness”.  … In the darkness there is kindled a fire and a glimmer of light, the Nothing comes to be something, the groundless freedom gives rise to nature.

Nikolai Berdyaev, Studies Concerning Jacob Boehme, 1930. ©  2002 by translator Fr. S. Janos. [original German text deleted from this quoted passage]