A Tyranny of Sunlight

Sunlight is usually a symbol of life, growth, happiness.

However, I seem to have a kind of “reverse” seasonal affective disorder because I get happy during times of clouds, wind, and rain, and sad under the summer sun. August is my time of withdrawal and hibernation.

In fact, the Sun has become, for me, a symbol of tyranny, death, illness, and depression – not a smiling, warm, life-bringing emoticon. Let me explain why:

The Sun God

The Sun is traditionally a male symbol associated with male gods like Helios, Apollo, Ra, and Initi. (The Feminine in our culture is most often associated with the moon.)

The Son God

The Sun/Son also associated it with a Judeo-Islamic-Christian God, and Moses, Jesus, and Mohamed as the ultimate straight, white, cisgender, middle-aged males.

As I’m sure you know, straight, white, cisgender, middle-aged male is a brand with stock at an all-time low.

The Sun King

The personified sun is often made literal. “The Sun King” is another name for Louis XIV of France, who is famous for his egotism, arrogance, opulence, paranoia, warmongering and absolute power.

With his penchant for gold and opulence, as well as his arrogance, egotism, and childishness, our own “Sun King” is Donald Trump.

Thus, “The Sun” as symbol takes on all the qualities of Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby (or for that matter Bill Clinton): the straight, cis-gender, abusive, dirty old man who embodies “The Tyrant” archetype. The sun’s “growth” is just the inflation of ego.

Furthermore, Jared Kushner is a “Sun Prince.” Here “sunlight” or “son light” is a symbol of privilege and nepotistic power.

I am, alas, a straight, white, cis, middle-aged man, and so “The Sun” is a symbol of toxic masculinity that leaves me without symbol, archetype or role model with which to identify.

“Enjoy The Sun”

The Sun as a symbol of happiness, health, and growth has been co-opted by advertising as a trigger for consumption. “Enjoy the Sun,” which is free to all, has been replaced by “Enjoy Coca-Cola.”

“Growth” and Capitalism

Unrestricted and neverending “growth” is the fuel for capitalism, which only can sustain itself if the economy continually expands – if our own production and consumption continually grow. This kind of growth is not healthy. Plants and animals do not grow this way. The only thing that grows unrestricted and neverending is cancer.

Sunlight and Global Warming

In the last 50 years, both wild animals and rainforests have reduced by half. From an environmental perspective, the human race is an ever-growing cancer, killing all other forms of life. The Sun is now a symbol for global warming and the Anthropocene.

Lastly, I’m fair-skinned so The Sun has a literal association with cancerous radiation. Laying out in the sun only gives me a painful, burning rash. Give me fog and gloom any day.

The Black Sun

So, The Black Sun, as a symbol, even though it is still linked with melancholy and grief, offers a weirdly comforting light, an uncanny freedom in darkness, and an opportunity for transformation.

For more on the Black Sun read my other posts:

The Black Sun

The Black Sun is Not…

Ordinary Numinous

2 thoughts on “A Tyranny of Sunlight”

  1. This is an adroit set of observations. I often find myself confused by the collective assumptions about sunny days (“beautiful!”) and cloudy/rain days (“gloomy”). I too have the opposite reactions. Stepping back from our current period of very reasonable concern that sunlight might be a proximate cause of human extinction, it seems understandable that the Sun was worshipped. For the past 50,000 years or so, if I understand our history, humanoids have been sustained by the sunlight—not threatened by it. Of course, sunlight is neutral. A star amongst trillions just engaging in its burning chemical reactions. For humans, though, the Sun is something that each summer becomes more of a real threat to global stability. In 2018, parts of Yemen had temperatures of 125F during the peak of the summer. It’s estimated that, if this temperatures rise even by 5F, the environment would not be compatible with human life. Hence, it follows that, if sunlight produces every increasing temperatures over the next, say, 20 years, there may be a requirement for mass seasonal human migration from equatorial regions. And given how the USA is currently responding to “visitors” from other sovereign nations seeking (some of them) asylum from social dangers, things look rather stark for, say, 100 million to 500 million people migrating North every summer just to survive the ambient temperatures. One can imagine a large scale international cooperative effort to make the best of the situation but, if the history of human behaviors is a indicator of any value, international cooperative efforts to help others is an unlikely scenario. Exploitation, famine, military blockage: that’s the stuff of massive environmentally driven migration. It’s odd to think that such challenges will likely arise for humanity in a decade or so.

    Another thing that your post brings to the surface is that humans, not through pure malice or anything so sinister, don’t tend to believe it. until they see it. Scientists put the equivalent of a Honda Accord on Mars and equipped it with live-action cameras and data gathering computers. Virtual reality and AI are in their infancy and the science behind these is still staggering. So why do we dismiss so easily the unanimous conclusions of climate scientists? I read an article on MotherJones recently about grief and disengagement among international leading climate scientists. Many have dropped out of the field and have opened flowers shops or moved to the wilderness. The scientific data are so overwhelmingly clear, these scientists say, that we’re headed for global chaos and loss of life on the order of possibly billions, that they have developed the so-called Cassandra Syndrome: tellers of truth that are destined not to be believed. Fully informed climate scientists, at their most optimistic, talk about how mass international cooperation, put into effect immediately, might (might?) avoid some of the more severe consequences of what is indeed transpiring with our ecosystem and its suitability for human life. I appreciate that they focus on the optimistic. However, when have humans ever put aside their own immediate self-interests and profits and cooperated on a global scale? Of course, the answer is: never.

    One might object and point out that this is the first time such gravitas has touched humanity. That’s a fair observation. So let’s look at current global cooperative behavior. Global cooperation is an oxymoron. The USA pulled out of the already rather symbolic Paris agreements. Fat and rich American politicians are labeling climate catastrophists as fringe kooks—even though the latter have the overwhelming support of scientific data on their side.

    I know that copper conducts electricity. Science has data that overwhelmingly support that. I can be called a fringe kook for knowing this if, for some reason, copper not conducting electricity was an important assumption for the immediate profits of multibillion dollar interest. All their dismissals won’t matter, though, when a piece of copper is placed in front of their eyes and it conducts electricity. This analogy holds with regard to climate change except, with regard to the copper scenario, the multibillion dollar interest would simply lose a lot of money. Applying the analogy to climate catastrophe, well, multibillion dollar interest would also lose a lot of money but the planet on which that money has any meaning or significance may not be habitable.

    Circling back to the Sun, I resonate completely with the Black Sun as you describe it. Sunlight implies activity, productivity, consumption, happiness, the illusion of infinite growth. Black sun rays imply being (as opposed to doing), periods of inactivity, preservation, and the reality of finitude. In this sense, taking off the trappings of contemporary acceptable appearances, I worship the Black Sun—“worship” in the sense that it and its mysteries resonate with a sense of peace whereas the Sun and bright sunlight and all fo the associations you outline linked to the bright Sun, these latter things create a sense of dread and an intuition of suffering and destruction.

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