Monday, January 2, 2012

Blue Hour 1 of 6

8:00 pm

One of the books I read by the lake was Blue Nights by Joan Didion.

It begins thus,
"In certain latitudes there comes a span of time approaching and following the summer solstice, some weeks in all, when the twilights turn long and blue. This period of the blue nights does not occur in subtropical California, where I lived for much of the time I will be talking about here and where the end of daylight is fast and lost in the blaze of the dropping sun, but it does occur in New York, where I now live. You notice it first as April ends and May begins, a change in the season, not exactly a warming—in fact not at all a warming—yet suddenly summer seems near, a possibility, even a promise. You pass a window, you walk to Central Park, you find yourself swimming in the color blue: the actual light is blue, and over the course of an hour or so this blue deepens, becomes more intense even as it darkens and fades, approximates finally the blue of the glass on a clear day at Chartres, or that of the Cerenkov radiation thrown off by the fuel rods in the pools of nuclear reactors. The French called this time of day “l’heure bleue.” To the English it was “the gloaming.” The very word “gloaming” reverberates, echoes— the gloaming, the glimmer, the glitter, the glisten, the glamour—carrying in its consonants the images of houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the shadows. During the blue nights you think the end of day will never come. As the blue nights draw to a close (and they will, and they do) you experience an actual chill, an apprehension of illness, at the moment you first notice: the blue light is going, the days are already shortening, the summer is gone. This book is called “Blue Nights” because at the time I began it I found my mind turning increasingly to illness, to the end of promise, the dwindling of the days, the inevitability of the fading, the dying of the brightness. Blue nights are the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but they are also its warning."


Over the next few days we are going to watch the blue hour by this lake.


4 comments:

  1. Very peaceful... Looking forward to seeing the changes in the landscape.

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  2. What a glorious passage! I like the sentence "The very word “gloaming” reverberates, echoes— the gloaming, the glimmer, the glitter, the glisten, the glamour—carrying in its consonants the images of houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the shadows". Such an image she has conjured in my mind.

    I read "The Year of Magical Thinking" last year. I was captivated for 3/4 of it. Then I thought it became a little self-indulgent. But she had massive strength to write it at all.

    What did you think of "Blue Nights".

    You little off-centre fishing troupe is quite evocative for me.

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  3. Julie, like you I had mixed feelings on Magical Thinking and similar mixed feelings on this one. For example, I dislike the American stye of 'name dropping' in their memoirs. I guess it establishes the position of privilege her daughter had but it erks me. I was annoyed that she did not reveal what her daughter died off - some say it was alcoholic related - but perhaps it says something about her inability to cope. As you say it must take massive strength to write as she does. I found her exploration of ageing great. She has a way of digging into things which is terrific and relates more to my experience of life.

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  4. I love all the different shades of blue. The passage from the book describes the blue time/ gloaming very well. Her book sounds interesting but I get bored with too many descriptive passages. Looking forward to the following series of pics.

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