Utne Blogs > Literature

A Call For Darkness

by Chelsey Perkins 


Tags: books and publishers, environment, Let There Be Night, darkness, artificial light, stars, sky, spirituality, University of Nevada Press, Paul Bogard, Janisse Ray,

Very few of us today ever experience true darkness. Artificial lighting smudges out the stars, confuses creatures of the night, wastes energy, and has damaging effects on human health. In “Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark,” (University of Nevada Press, 2008) , editor Paul Bogard compiled thoughtful and evocative essays from 29 writers, poets, scientists, and scholars. Bogard encourages readers to take “this collection to their own favorite nighttime roost, somewhere with amber light to shade the darkness, somewhere with stars close by, somewhere with the scents and sounds of darkness.”

If we heed Bogard's advice, there's a lot we might glean from darkness. In one essay, environmental activist and writer Janisse Ray draws from personal experience to expound on spirituality: “What has confused us is the double entendre. Our desire for meaning keeps us reaching for greater clarity and luminosity. But we confound lucidity with kilowatts. We confuse artificial light with enlightenment. Therein lies a greater fear: that we humans might be so afraid of darkness that we, for a time, would destroy it, thus banishing the illumination that darkness brings.”

dave crawford
10/2/2008 5:05:14 PM

Great book. Even the environmentalist and greens forget that there is night, and that is has been in all cultures forever. Some of us miss it. Bogard is trying to build awareness of that fact.


jake mohan
9/16/2008 11:42:21 AM

Last year I read a good piece in the New Yorker, by David Owen, about light pollution. For a while afterward I was highly aware of the presence of artificial lighting. I'm surprised it's not included in Bogard's book, but it's available in full here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/20/070820fa_fact_owen