On the Moon

Moondance 1A group of moonstruck locals climbed to the top of the park Sunday night to view the rising of the super moon. In Italo Calvino’s short story “The Distance to the Moon “ (1965), the characters climb to the moon from Earth using ladders:

“Climb up on the moon? Of course we did. All you had to do was row out to it in a boat and, when you were underneath, prop a ladder against her and scramble up.”

It’s the same moon Leonard Cohen had in mind when he sang,

“Ah, they’ll never, they’ll never ever reach the moon, at least not the one that we’re after.”

But which moon are we after?

In Buckminster Fuller’s book “Nine Chains to the Moon” (1963), he explains the title:

“A statistical cartoon would show that if, in imagination, all of the people of the world were to stand upon one another’s shoulders, they would make nine complete chains between the earth and the moon. If it is not so far to the moon, then it is not so far to the limits, – whatever, whenever or wherever they may be.”

Fuller may have climbed up to the moon to write some of his books.

When the Brooklyn Dodgers first arrived in Los Angles, they played in the Coliseum, which was not built for baseball, and the fence in left field was so close that a screen was put up so homers would not be too easy. But a Dodger player named Wally Moon cleared the fence so often his homers came to be called “Moon shots.” The Space Race was on.

For most, the dark side of the moon will remain forever dark. Apollo 8 circled the moon late in 1968, the year of the Tet Offensive, so there were other things on minds besides the moon. Eric Sevareid, for one, was unimpressed with the promise of pics from the dark side of the moon. From his short article, “The Dark Side of the Moon” (if following link, scroll about ¼ down):

“There is, after all, another side— a dark side — to the human spirit, too. Men have hardly begun to explore these regions; and it is going to be a very great pity if we advance upon the bright side of the moon with the dark side of ourselves, if the cargo in the first rockets to reach there consists of fear and chauvinism and suspicion. Surely we ought to have our credentials in order, our hands very clean and perhaps a prayer for forgiveness on our lips as we prepare to open the ancient vault of the shining moon.”

Of course, as it turned out, the dark side was no different than the bright side. Go figure. Speaks more to the mystery of metaphor than to the mystery of the moon.

Joyce had, in “Ulysses,” given his version of the perigee. From the penultimate episode of Joyce’s “Ulysses,” written in catechism form:

“With what meditations did Bloom accompany his demonstration to his companion of various constellations?

Meditations of evolution increasingly vaster: of the moon invisible in incipient lunation, approaching perigee: of the infinite lattiginous scintillating uncondensed milky way, discernible by daylight by an observer placed at the lower end of a cylindrical vertical shaft 5000 ft deep sunk from the surface towards the centre of the earth: of Sirius (alpha in Canis Maior) 10 lightyears (57,000,000,000,000 miles) distant and in volume 900 times the dimension of our planet: of Arcturus: of the precession of equinoxes: of Orion with belt and sextuple sun theta and nebula in which 100 of our solar systems could be contained: of moribund and of nascent new stars such as Nova in 1901: of our system plunging towards the constellation of Hercules: of the parallax or parallactic drift of socalled fixed stars, in reality evermoving wanderers from immeasurably remote eons to infinitely remote futures in comparison with which the years, threescore and ten, of allotted human life formed a parenthesis of infinitesimal brevity.”

No, the answer is not as brief as those in the Baltimore, and we still seem to be nine chains from the moon. In any case, must it always sound so cold? Not at all. Joyce follows up with a question and answer that deconstructs the man in the moon.

Moondance 2Sevareid had acknowledged the emergence of a new moon:

“The moon was always measured in terms of hope and reassurance and the heart pangs of youth on such a night as this; it is now measured in terms of mileage and foot-pounds of rocket thrust.”

Joyce also allows for a double moon, one of science, one of metaphor, in Bloom’s catechism answers:

 “What special affinities appeared to him to exist between the moon and woman?

Her antiquity in preceding and surviving successive tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant implacable resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.”

081020141748Pic to left: back from the mountain, down from the moon, in the backyard, a somewhat diminished super moon over the apple tree. I picked up a guitar. There are many more songs with moon in their title than sun. The reflection is not as blinding as the reality.


  1. Good company, the moonstruck.
    I think I like Eric Sevareid, must look him up. The link to the story in the Archives doesn’t work for me, but I’ll find it.
    I posted in three parts of a short story in May 2011, I think, called ‘The Mysterious Object,’ which is about the moon. http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/the-mysterious-object/
    It’s about reflection, of course :)


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Here is a different link to the Sevareid article – go to page 2. It’s a short article. … Would these be the scientists? from yr post: “People who ventured into the nights were considered odd and generally mistrusted.” No, those would be the lunatics.


      1. Poets, Joe, moonstruck poets.


        1. Joe Linker says:

          Yes, jumping into ponds after frogs.


          1. Don’t get me going. My son fished a huge toad out of a swimming pool in an outback place. They put it into the freezer, that’s what they do. Another story.
            In my’ Magic Object’ story it was a jump through darkness into the light.


          2. Joe Linker says:

            OK, will wait for toad story. The Frozen Toad. … One year, we got a Christmas wreath via one of the fundraisers that come around. When the wreath arrived, it was wet out, and the wreath was soaking. We brought the wreath in and left it on the floor on some paper to dry a bit. That night, we heard the strangest sound coming up the stairs, an intermittent belching of some sort. I went down to investigate. A frog had come in with the wreath, apparently living in the wreath. it was tiny, but very loud. We named the frog Aretha.


  2. bristlehound says:

    Bad Moon Rising, Harvest Moon,Blue Moon and the list goes on. I was surprised that the Super Moon was also in US as we had one also – is that odd?
    The Moon plays a great part in our lives, from love songs to actually physically effecting our day to day activities. Yet unless someone sings of it or it becomes Super, then it goes about its business quietly.
    By the way Joe, your mention of Leonard Cohen and Bucky did not escape me.B


    1. Joe Linker says:

      The moon about its business quietly, daily, monthly, doesn’t it. Singing to the moon? Probably can’t hear very well.


  3. bristlehound says:

    When my boy was little, I would tell him to look at the moon and consider that his Nan was looking at the same time (She lives in another city). He would then blow a kiss to the moon and hope that Nan would somehow have that kiss bestowed upon her.
    It makes me feel humble that we all share the same moon and, should we all look up at the same time, it is possible that the world could be reduced to the size of a playground- for just one minute.
    Full Moons, New Moons, Super Moons, Crescent Moons they all have their place in poetry and writing. The Moon is a true celebrity.
    I wonder what the early people thought of the Moon? It was there, then it wasn’t! It was bright and large – and then it was dull! Would they have tried to touch it?
    Nice post Joe and your art is beginning to get me inspired to do some more myself.B


  4. Dan Hennessy says:

    Of course , too , there is Moon Over My Hammy at Dennys .
    Strangely enough : The early Angus ( from which evolved the anglicized name Hennessy ) , king of Ireland , had a child and heir ; but this boy was stricken with a mysterious illness and was bed-ridden for weeks . The king was extremely worried , of course , and he called in the doctors . The doctors had no answers . The king called in the sorcerers . One of these gifted gentlemen asked the boy what it would take to cure him . ” The moon , ” the troubled boy said , ” Bring me the moon. ”
    So week after frustrating week they tried ; they attempted ways to capture the moon , to no avail .
    One day a poor servant’s son wandered into the king’s son’s chamber . He talked to the sick boy and asked him how he might be cured . ” Bring me the moon ,” he said .
    ” What’s the moon made of ? ” asked the servant’s son .
    ” Cotton .”
    So , the poor servant’s son collected all the cotton that he could and bundled it up into a big round ball and brought it to the bed-ridden boy and the king’s son immediately recovered .
    ( The servant’s son went on to start a small but lucrative IT firm in Silicon Valley )


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Selling cotton apps. … Good story. No end of moon tales. Nothing but a dead rock. Shine a light on it and everybody goes into a tizzy fit. Shine a light on it, hang it over a still pond, add a frog, prompt the frog to jump into the pond and land on the silvery floating water lily, hide a poet behind a tree who watches the frog try to land on the big silver leaf, only to discover that pond water is awfully cold. Poet laughs. That’s the sound Basho heard, his own laughing voice breaking the silence of the pond. He just needed a frog and a moon to get things going. I saw this quote the other day, but I can’t remember who said it: “We must rid ourselves of illusions without becoming disillusioned.” Apropos of jumping into ponds.


  5. Dan Hennessy says:

    I’d like to reblog this post .


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Yeah? Thanks, Dan. You can give it a new title: “Moon Over Szczecin.”


  6. Moon was still pretty impressive last night too!


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thanks, Jeni. Another moon follower! We got overcast last night. Will check the sky again tonight.


  7. Dan Riley says:

    Oh, Joe, here’s how magically these things work…I’ve probably read 50,000 words on Robin Williams this week…and wrote about a thousand of them myself…but not until I read this did I remember that he once played the man in the moon in a wonderfully inventive movie–one of those Terry Gilliam fantasies…Brazil or Munchausen, perhaps. Bet you didn’t even know how attuned to the moment you were….


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thanks for reading and comment, Dan. “The King of the Moon.” But I had to look it up. “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.” I don’t think I’ve seen it. Robin Williams. Oh, my. We may not know when we are in or out of tune, on the dark side of the moon.


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