I like to question a lot of things. Particularly the use of endlessly repeated phrases that although they be true, useful even, they don’t necessarily provide the diversity to really spice things up.
In the past few weeks Falmouth has been under siege from numerous cold weather fronts making every day just as grey and wet as the next.
That is slowly changing. Spring is just over the horizon and with it has come the prospect of bright spells and oh so seductive pools of blue to look upon. It’s glorious finally having the sun shower down on this coastal town; yet even as I sit writing this I can’t stop my mind from immediately jumping to the phrase, the sun is blinding. And that bothers me. It bothers me because the words, rather than rising in ecstasy like an angel enraptured by the grace of god, they sit stagnant like that one sock caught in the edge of a washing machine: wet, dirty and an utter disappointment. I don’t deny that it’s an obvious and important phrase: without it how could we imprint the danger onto children’s minds that no, you can’t stare at the sun, it will damage your eyes. Plus there’s just no way of seeing clearly when it’s sunny either, so truth be told there.
But on the matter of the sun, immediately I’m taken in a reverie of what it symbolises: it’s the unseen connotations that provide more value than the traditional associations. For example, when mentioning the sun, ideas of heat and colour enter your mind. But look deeper into it and couldn’t you just as well say that the sun attests to an admittance of our own vulnerability? It’s an unconscious recognition of our own mortality; we are eclipsed by nature and her power as smaller beings with every motive in some way controlled by the weather. In another way, we are akin to the sun, like dying fragments of nature. Yet the sun has seen centuries whereas we see decades. The longevity of the great star’s life far outmatches ours thus revealing how frail we really are and how brief our time is on the planet in comparison to the great history of the universe.
What’s more, the sun serves as a testament to religion. The light it brings opens up the chance of redemption, the passing of evil, the purifying of one’s soul. But the light is also a symbol bringing you closer to God. Indeed, this gives a writer the opportunity to use the sun in their work in order to provide a preferred reading that will validate their work, giving it more authority and the reader, a heightened interest.
Furthermore, the sun is an icon of beauty. But also of danger. It inspires. Where one person will tell you of the grand gratification of the sun for it’s warm and inviting sense of possibilities, another will associate it will the excess of heat, endangering climates and supplies. In literature it is most often used as a device to show a positive premonition: that possibly the world is whole and everything is right in the world. Subvert that and you have something doubly engaging and thought provoking.
So when we look back at the phrase the sun is blinding, there’s an infinite number of ways you could be referring to the sun, rather than turning to such a cliché. But although I am less inclined to dabble in these phrases I can say that in looking at the numerous associations, there is something else this phrase positively deploys. That is the dichotomy between an evil and a blessing. As we have seen, the sun could blind you: a big no no. But it’s radiance is so powerful it must be seen as beautiful and that’s what draws us to it. In effect, a blessing in its own right.
Ironically, instead of showing how it is better not to define the sun in one moment to a cliché phrase, I’ve explored why we use them and how they do in fact act as a summary for a great number of ideas integral to our understanding of nature. It’s funny how things work out like that.But without moving into your own debate on simple matters you won’t truly understand their value, so if this post teaches you anything, it’s that things are far more complex and valuable than they first appear.