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Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a…
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Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age

by Clark Strand

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Let me save you a read: light bulbs=bad and Strand is a nut. This should get less than one star, but I'm being especially kind this year, and no stars means no opinion. I have no idea how this got on my "Want to Read" list. I checked NPR, thinking that's where I heard of this, but I couldn't find it. I thought this might have something to do with modern screens and not enough sleep. Yeah...no. Instead, Strand references a Thomas Wehr study from the 90s that showed that humans revert to "primitive" natures when deprived of artificial light and sleep in two periods during a night (note: neither Wehr, nor Strand discussed whether apes had the same sleeping patterns). But Strand goes off into mystical nonsense and blows it through the roof through this thankfully short book.

I'm not sure as to Wehr's credibility, but Strand diminishes it with Because he was a scientist and not a shaman, such language was probably as close as Wehr could get to saying outright that we have lost our access to the realm of the ancestors—that we can no longer commune with the dead.
Strand's wife speaks to her ancestors at night, and he speaks to Buddhist icons. But it gets better...
Estrogen and testosterone production bumped upward when early humans brought firelight inside of their caves, convincing their bodies that the days were actually growing longer and that it was time to mate. Human females (who were then most fertile in late summer, when food was plentiful) gradually became capable of reproducing at any time of year.
He doesn't realize the comically narrow mindedness of Before fire, human beings were one species among many - a persistent thread in the evolutionary tapestry that spread here and there through the big picture - but the weren't the point of that picture. There was no sense that Homo sapiens were the endpoint of evolution. There was no sense that, having created them, the world (or God) was effectively done with its creative work.
Done? Amazing...that evolution is done...having resulted in humans. Back to Wehr, and this stunning revelation
When we [researchers T. S. Wiley and Bent Formby] asked Dr. Thomas Wehr, the head of the department studying seasonal and circadian rhythmicity at the NIH [National Institutes of Health] in Washington, whether he felt the public had a right to know that on less than 9.5 hours of sleep at night—i.e., in the dark—they will (a) never be able to stop eating sugar, smoking, and drinking alcohol and (b) most certainly develop one of the following conditions: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infertility, mental illness, and/or premature aging, he said, “Well, yes, they do have a right to know. They should be told; but it won’t change anything. Nobody will ever turn off the lights."
Loons tend to flock together it seems. For such a short book, there are far too many WTF? moments:
What is electricity but an exercise in human self-importance? It accomplishes nothing else.
{...}
Turn out the lights—and leave them off—and we will experience a consciousness our minds have never known but our bodies still remember.
And just when you think it can't get any crazier...Strand reveals voices woke him and talked to him. More than once. And ...spoiler alert...that darkness is a woman!!

Waste of neurons. Don't bother. I was going to give it a generous two stars but after going back over my notes, I couldn't. It's bad.
( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clark Strandprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lytle, WillIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812997727, Hardcover)

In the tradition of Thomas Merton’s spiritual classic The Seven Storey Mountain or Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul, Waking Up to the Dark is a deeply resonant and personal project—a modern gospel that is an investigation of the relationship between darkness and the soul. The darkness Clark Strand is talking about here is literal: the darkness of the nighttime, of a world before electricity, when there was a rhythm to life that followed the sun’s rising and setting.
 
Strand here offers penetrating insight into the spiritual enrichment that can be found when we pull the plug on our billion-watt culture. He argues that the insomnia so many of us experience as “the Hour of the Wolf” is really “the Hour of God”—a wellspring of rest and renewal, and an ancient reservoir of ancestral wisdom and inspiration. And in a powerful yet surprising turn, he shares with us an urgent message for the world, received through a mysterious young woman, about the changes we all know are coming.
 
Waking Up to the Dark is a book for those of us who awaken in the night and don’t know why we can’t get back to sleep, and a book for those of us who have grown uncomfortable in real darkness—which we so rarely experience these days, since our first impulse is always to turn on the light. Most of all, it is a book for those of us who wonder about our souls: When the lights are always on, when there is always noise around us, do our souls have the nourishment they need in which to grow?
 
Praise for Waking Up to the Dark
 
“A celebration of the life-enriching—indeed, indispensable—properties of the night . . . Strand delivers a significant amount of experiential melding to existential thoughtfulness in this book about the sublime and elemental powers of the dark. . . . An exigent, affecting summons to rediscover the night.”Kirkus Reviews

“This book is small in size and mighty in spirit. It is at once a clarion call and a meditation. Sonorous, deep, soul-stirring, and profoundly comforting, Waking Up to the Dark is a rare book that will be pressed from one hand to the next with the urgent, whispered words: You must read this.”—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
 
“In a modern world flooded with artificial light, Clark Strand reminds us what we have left behind in the dark. This beautiful, haunting meditation is filled with surprises and lost knowledge. Read it by candlelight—you will never forget it.”—Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America and One Simple Idea
 
“In this exhilaratingly original work, Clark Strand shows us that the key to enlightenment lies where we don’t want to look. It is hidden in plain sight, but we have to turn the lights off to find it.”—Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart and The Trauma of Everyday Life
 
“Breathtaking and revolutionary, a small masterpiece for a world that has grown uncomfortable with the darkness and a poignant plea to take back the dark as the Hour of God, as the great friend of faith, awakening, and soul nourishment.”—Gail Straub, co-founder of Empowerment Institute and author of Returning to My Mother’s House
 
“Wonder, solitude, quiet, intimacy, the holy—darkness holds these treasures and more. If we want to connect with God, argues Strand in this wise and compassionate book, we will ‘awaken to the dark.’ ”—Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 12 Jul 2015 08:10:42 -0400)

A modern gospel that is an investigation of the relationship between darkness and the soul. The darkness Clark Strand is talking about here is literal: the darkness of the nighttime, of a world before electricity, when there was a rhythm to life that followed the sun's rising and setting. Strand here offers penetrating insight into the spiritual enrichment that can be found when we pull the plug on our billion-watt culture. He argues that the insomnia so many of us experience as "the Hour of the Wolf" is really "the Hour of God"--a wellspring of rest and renewal, and an ancient reservoir of ancestral wisdom and inspiration.… (more)

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