Affinity within Infinity LO22473
Sun, 22 Aug 1999 16:38:11 EDT

Affinity within Infinity

In memory of some estimated forty five thousand people killed in the
Turkish earthquake disaster.

"-All that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity-" I.2.146 Hamlet

Dear Learners,

For me one of the most beautiful and remarkable things to happen during
the recent total eclipse over the south of the United kingdom was the
spontaneous coming together of great numbers of people. The silence. A
deep respectful hush. When the light returned there was communal
spontaneous applause and birdsong.
As for the light, it wasn't so much as if it went from the sky, but as if
it sank itself, draining into the surroundings.

I learned recently of a beautiful symmetry; that the moon is 1/400th the
size of the sun and the sun is 400 times further away from earth than the
moon, this proportionate ratio allows for the perfect radius matching of
moon and sun viewed from earth. Since the placement of each 'body' is
interdependent, connected, the delicate balances of life on earth are
therefore suspended upon and within that equation. Hence, total eclipse is
unequivocally connected with the realisation of all possible earthly life.

Cataclysmic events in the heavens have a way if reminding us of our need
for community. Just so cataclysms on earth. Having just witnessed pictures
of the earthquake in Turkey we see two eternal forces of light and dark at
work that I believe permeate many of our organisations. In the urge to
build for maximum profit, minimum investment and with little thought to
sustainability in the face of earthquake, it seems some 'developers' (sic)
will be held to final account. Too late. With an estimated 45,000 dead.
The 'foundations' were root and branch feeble. At the point of maximum
crisis the people have come together and renovate, realigned in the
singular pursuit of saving life, all life, one life and any life. And with
every child plucked from a tomb, as if by the miracle of resurrection from
the debris of what was a home a powerful myth is reborn.

The great American builder of visions Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, 'Inner
rhythm deep planted in human sensibility, lives far above other
considerations in Art. -Out of this sense of order and his love of the
beauty of life-something is to be born maybe to live long as a message of
hope and joy or a curse to his kind. This is the faith and the fear in the
architect as he makes ready to draw his design. In all artists it is the
same.' So is this like the foundations of our cities, our institutions,
our organisations, our families, our communities?

Eclipses, it seems to me like eruptions and earthquakes bring people into
instantaneous alignment, under the shadow of a calamitous asymmetry of
creation, people flowing against the dark like a thousand bright streams
to save the one single possible life for the future. A sudden place in the
world where for a moment there is no thought of personal loss in risk but
only thought of a love of and for the life that strives unseen to live in
darkness, waiting for light, rebirth. In these moments leadership becomes
common place.

'Es ist dafur gesorgt, dass die baume nicht in den himmel wachsen.'
'It is ordained, that trees may not grow to heaven.' Goethe

Have you ever seen a flower growing through tarmacadam? Or a seedling that
pushes its way through bricks and mortar? A slow ineffable persistence.
Have you ever seen a plant strive its way toward the dark? One of the
most beautiful images for me is that of a tree. All living things grow
toward the light. Even it seems to me when we pile the unintended debris
of personal greed and hubris upon them. It does not have to be stone.

Kenneth Boulding wrote,

"The image (any valued image) acts as a 'field'. The behavior consists in
gravitating toward the most highly valued part of the world." I ask
myself, what is this most highly valued part of the world that we can
inherently gravitate toward?
When we gravitate to fields of images of ourselves, surrounded by the
trappings of personal and collective wealth we seem somehow to lose the
kindness that it takes to build 'living organisations', communities that
If we are not to become 'lost in a field of dreams' as Peter Senge says we
are, let us at least spend some of the twilight hours dreaming light
filled dreams.
Faith or fear, light or dark, hope and joy or a curse to his kind? These
rhythms run deep. But every morning, when the sun comes up you get to

"Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief
will help you create the fact." William James

'Eternal Light, You only dwell within
Yourself, and only You know You; Self-knowing,
Self-known, You love and smile upon Yourself!
That circle-which begotten so, appeared in
You as light reflected-when my eyes
Had watched it with attention for some time,
within itself and coloured like itself,
to me seemed painted with our effigy,
so that my sight was set on it completely.
As the geometer intently seeks
To square the circle, but he cannot reach,
through thought on thought, the principle he needs,
so I searched that strange sight: I wished to see
the way in which our human effigy
suited the circle and found a place in it-
and my own wings were far to weak for that.
But then my mind was struck by light that flashed
And, with this light, received what it had asked.' (XXX111, 124-141)
Dante, The Divine Comedy.

What has this to do with learning?

Learning is to me like an eclipse, there is in Dante's infinite
imagination an image of a field with two stream running through, the
streams of Lethe and Eunoe, the streams of 'forgetting' and 'remembrance
of the good'. Our real learning it seems paradoxically to me resides as
much in the stream of forgetting (darkness) as the stream of remembrance
of the good (renovation through light), since what we thought we forgot
merely sank into the unconscious, the 'creative unconscious' I propose.
Here reside our deepest values, and when we sink or are sunk we
momentarily return there and are bathed in some more collective field of
mind, setting a place for renewal. This can be a garden of realisable
dreams. Peter Senge reckons that it is through the unconscious that we
shall deal with complexity. But as At de Lange says of 'emergences at the
edge of chaos', you have to go there yourself, accompanied through passion
alone immerse yourself in both rivers, since forgetting presupposes the
willingness to become better through bathing in the other aspect.

"Like a baby being born" At de Lange

It is like a form of self-resurrection. It is to say, to affirm, "I was wrong
and I have learned and I will change."
When Senge asks 'why walk on one leg when you have two, or look with one
eye?' I also take him to mean, why think with the one mind when you have two?
Dante's great narrative, the journey or passage from dark to light began with
a powerful childhood experience and his entire creative life that included
political exile and apparent failure was built upon the foundation of
platonic love for Beatrice, his 'other half' who appeared to him in a dream,
long after she had in fact died.
The story is about recovery and rebirth, about light and dark, heaven and
hell, night and day and has become though no more than a mere poem a great
edifice of human history. It is pristine and expanded through the applied
love of learning that it invokes from scholars and lovers of truth alike. It
is also a story of 'agape'.
Some clever man once wrote that 'Your education is what remains when you have
forgotten what it was you learned." That is indeed clever. Perhaps he meant
that in what we forget (lose) in the 'one' mind we remember (recover) to the
other like a gift imparted. The art of living and learning it sometimes seems
to me is to search for and find and attend to that rhythm in balance, to
become in tune with the mighty cosmos, all nature's resounding patterns. The
mountain and the flower. The big and the small.

To take hold of shining moments driven by a desire to be infused with a truly
dynamic and creative life force called insight and foresight.
My father told me that I would never value as much those things I have until
they were lost. He was right.
Every morning I greet the sun, even when I can't see it.
It is there.
The real tragedy now unfolded in Turkey is expressed clearly to me in words
over 2000 years old,

"We can forgive the child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life
is when men are afraid of the light."

Perhaps we must learn how we stop fearing the light, lest we continually
design and build too much potential for darkness into the fabric of our lives
as well as that of our buildings.

Andrew Campbell


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