Celebrate Solstice!

At dawn on Winter Solstice every year, just after 9am, the sun begins to rise across the Boyne Valley from Newgrange over a hill known locally as Red Mountain. Given the right weather conditions, the event is spectacular.  At  four and a half minutes past nine, the light from the rising sun strikes the front of Newgrange, and enters into the passage through the roofbox which was specially designed to capture the rays of the sun.

For the following fourteen minutes, the beam of light stretches into the passage of Newgrange and on into the central chamber, where, in Neolithic times, it illuminated the rear stone of the central recess of the chamber. With simple stone technology, these wonderful people captured a very significant astronomical and calendrical moment in the most spectacular way.  [here]

Marley’s Ghost

Original illustration of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by John Leech

Dickens began writing his “little carol” in October, 1843 finishing it by the end of November in time to be published for Christmas with illustrations by John Leech. Feuding with his publishers, Dickens financed the publishing of the book himself, ordering lavish binding, gilt edging, and hand-colored illustrations and then setting the price at 5 shillings so that everyone could afford it. This combination resulted in disappointingly low profits despite high sales. In the first few days of its release the book sold six thousand copies and its popularity continued to grow.

From David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page

Here is a hypertext version of A Christmas Carol

On Michael Jackson

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We can’t figure out who he really was because, though we scramble for tidbits of highly personal information about celebrities, we’re not really interested in who they are.  We can’t figure out who he really was because everything about celebrity forces the construction of a public personna that not only obfuscates, hides and protects but that also seeks to sell itself, sell “the” mask of the self, seduce as many people as possible and pander to the more base instincts of human beings and consumer culture.  Michael Jackson created a man who couldn’t be known and who, most likely, could not know himself.  Almost everyone in his life, including his fans, collaborated.  And are still collaborating.  And most likely always will.  At this point there is no other choice.  He has affected us and the world we live in whether we acknowledge that fact or not.  He is part of the lives of people who don’t even like his music unless they are dead to the world.  We will talk for a bit about Michael and then we will stop and as part of that conversation we will continually ask why we are talking about him so much.  Most of the talk centres around that question:  who was Michael Jackson?  We can never answer that question, finally, about anyone.  But the more we gather about a person like Michael, the less we know.

And yet.  In his music, his voice, his videos, his absolutely magical dancing body and his art, creativity and self-expression remain. I remember it.  I choose to remember those glimmers of  joy, those cries of the heart, those gestures that reflected us to ourselves and broke out from time to time into this fragmented fallen world so alienated from itself that that it cannot begin to answer, who?  Whoever Michael Jackson was, it’s most likely that he was fully consumed.  For a little while longer, we’ll feed on his death.  Then there will be the music and the moves and what we find there …

 

Have a look at these:

Michael Jackson: Of Mortal Coils and Music by Natalia Antonova @GlobalComment

Michael Jackson: Freak Like Me by Richard Kim @TheNation