Daily Archives: March 9, 2023

Astrothesia

Astrothesia (as-tro-the’-si-a): A vivid description of stars. One type of enargia.


Our family, all three of us, lay on a blanket in the field down by the woods. There was no wind and it was a warm summer night. We were looking for shooting stars and star gazing too. There was no moon. It was perfect. We stood up to look at the stars’ constellations as well as the North Star—that piece of twinkling light that has guided countless people to their destinations. People need reliable anchor points to guide them home: from loving partners to lights in the sky, they help us find our way. Then we saw the two dippers—big and little, Orion, Cassiopeia and the Milky Way. The constellations have been projected onto the sky by humans for thousands of years. Most of them have Greek and Latin names. The ancients connected the sky-dots in accord with their cultures, naming them, mostly, from their pantheons of gods and goddesses. The Milky Way was called Via Galactica—the road of milk—by the Romans. It is amazing that in thousands of years the names still fit, partially because they project a sort of continuity in human perception—naming is important and was a matter of convention, but the stars’ names persist, as is the case too with other aspects of natural order. “Star” starts with the Sanskrit stem “sta” and it shares meaning with every word starting with “sta” denoting a sort of sta-bility.

The wind. The rain. The snow. The stars—the beautiful stars that bring life to the cold night sky providing insomniacs and pining romantics alike with something to look at—a grand distraction that certifies the night as more than a site of frustration or grief. The stars may prompt revelation, if not solutions to the night’s quandaries: the burden of wakefulness, the bisected horror of a traumatized heart. We all see stars, but we may all see them differently, like everything else, our capacities and interests differ: nothing is identical to anything else, just similar at best, as if similar is preferable different. It is all circumstantial, flowing from particular cases through particular people who’re mutable, and may be changed by what they see.

Meteor time! I shut up and we lay on the blanket and wait. My daughter points at the sky and yells, “There’s one!” There it is! A thread of white fire, going down. It disappears as it burns out in the atmosphere. We saw that happen 8 times. Each time it warranted yelling “There’s one!” And a chorus of “Oooh!” It makes me think of fireworks in the July or New Year skies, or van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

Stars make the sky into wonder’s blanket. When you gaze at them at night, you are joining millions of other people as darkness sweeps around the globe. There is something about people that makes the sky worth contemplating.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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