Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jazz with Peacocks for Saturday

", only males are peacocks. Females are peahens, and together, they are called peafowl."
About Peacocks

If I ever got another tattoo, it would be a peacock.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

There's a Bad Moon on the Rise

I'm listening to Emmy Lou Harris's version of this tune now. It was written by John Fogerty and made famous by Creedence Clearwater Revival.  Bad Moon on the Rise (CCR)

I see the bad moon arising
I see trouble on the way.

The song's anticipatory opening, its prophecy of sorts, compels me to reflect on the idea of a "bad moon."  Biology Online notes the persistent belief among many people that the moon is connected to madness and mayhem.  We often hear, "There must a full moon" when we or others act strangely or perceive our mood to be wildly excited or agitated.  We have carried beliefs like these for centuries despite advancements in science and our understanding of astronomy and the phases of the moon. Do we do this because we are romantic?  Is it because we want to believe that the structures of the planet affect us supernaturally or because we want to believe in a God who makes it so?  Many educated people (professors and psychologists, for instance) believe that the moon influences behavior, so it is not a matter of pure ignorance or backward thinking.  We tend to think that because the moon creates the tide (thus, controlling the ocean through gravitational forces), it can act on other bodies of water ... and human bodies.  However, as a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto explains, at least one researcher has described the influence of the moon's gravitational forces on a human as less than that of a mosquito on one's shoulder.  That's a humorous image, since it minimizes the mosquito's size and effect ... but, on the other hand, a mosquito's noise and bite are annoying, and the bite can even be deadly, if it is carrying a disease.  The mosquito, then, is not entirely without influence, and neither, it seems, is the moon.  If that orb does affect us, it has nothing to do with the moon's phases.  Rather, it has to do with distance and force, a matter of physics that I can't begin to understand at this point.

In the past, before electric or gas lighting, people depended on the light of the moon to carry out activities at night.  That light being softer than daylight, it is naturally more "mysterious" and its boundaries less exact.  I might stand in the shadow and be an unseen threat. I might be able to observe others without notice, and even through sounds and tricks be able to deceive or frighten people.  Also, when the moon was brighter, we tended to sleep less, thus finding more opportunities for our nighttime endeavors, some of which were risky and forbidden.  If we look at the term "lunatic," we see the root word "lunar" and the person as someone affected by the lunar phases.