northern exposure, northern lights

“Life here is so elemental. So real. Without the interference of civilization you can really experience things like… silence. Silence and darkness in its purity. Right now, right outside my window all I can see is a black void. Endless darkness. It’s totally exhilarating, and I feel very lucky to be here. Very, very lucky.”

Dr. Joel Fleischman, Northern Exposure


So. It seems like we are going to be able to enjoy the Northern Lights this evening. A night where everyone should be looking up at the stars. And because of the Northern Lights I was reminded of what I would consider one of the best moments on television. You know what I mean. One of those moments which captures whatever sense or emotion you know the writers were trying to create.  Now. It doesn’t happen often (and it seems less and less on tv these days), but when it does it is awesome.

This moment comes from an old tv show called Northern Exposure.  A delightfully quirky 5 season comedy set in Cicely Alaska. I have plucked just one scene from a show with many to pluck.

John Corbett (who has a great voice) plays a philosophical local radio DJ in Cicely during the show.  This episode focuses on the fact he builds a sculpture every year to commemorate the appearance of the 24 hour night and the winter solstice.  After struggling to create his sculpture throughout the episode he unveils his creation at the end of this episode.

The scene is incredible for a number of reasons.

First. The speech.

John Corbett (Chris) strings together the “best of the best” light poetry references in his speech (he quotes the following: Thy word…feet, Psalm 119:105; Rage…light, Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night; Lead kindly…home, John Henry Newman, The Pillar of the Cloud; Arise..come, Isaiah 60:1).

It is a great speech and scene:

(on the winter solstice, during 24 hours of total darkness)

Goethe’s final words: more light. Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that’s been our unifying cry: more light. Sunlight, torchlight, candlelight, neon, incandescent, light to banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night games at Soldier’s Field, little tiny flashlight for those books we read under the covers when we’re supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and foot candles, light is metaphor. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. Rage, rage against the dying of the light! Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on. The night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on. Arise, shine, for thy light has come. Light is knowledge, light is life, light is light.

Second. The sculpture creation is cool.  It is a random collection of lights of all sizes and colors seemingly haphazardly put together and it is … well .. oddly perfect. It looks awesome. It is northern lights man-made. It is a reminder that creative perfection is more often than not a quirky combination of some imperfect thoughts and things.

Third. The music.  Goosebumps.  Absolutelyfrickinperfect song selection for the scene. While it is an Enya song, you have the feeling that the Eskimos (the Inuits) would have loved it. Enya. Ebudae from the Shepherd Moons cd.

Just wanted to share as I hope everyone takes a moment tonight and look at the Northern Lights.

Written by Bruce