Those stars

In Tolkien’s world, the stars were the first thing the elves saw when they awoke. They were tossed on the sky by Varda, just so they wouldn’t be in the dark when they woke up. The unreachable light in the darkness.

The stars are not farther away
Than the men I deal with

Heroes del Silencio, Undoing the World

All those stars cast a light on each other, while at the same time projecting a shadow on their fellow’s light. They seem to be alone, even lonely, and yet they gravitate around one another. They are bound to each other, linked, chained. They maintain balance by pulling towards themselves. They form a cohesive group that stays together because each star or planet does its selfish pull. If they gave in, maybe the whole universe would suddenly collapse.

Maybe by doing our small selfish bit, we are preventing the human species from collapsing into an insipid custard of nothing. Or maybe this is just self-indulgence.

We roughly have the same number of neurons in our brain as stars are in our galaxy. Just a poetic coincidence, of course. I wonder if our neurons feel the same. Sometimes so close, but not apparently connected to their neighbour neurons. Other times forming a network that allows the stream of ions to flow. Sometimes serving as a sewage sink for thoughts we don’t want to have, sometimes shining in a moment of enlightenment. Always connected to one another, like it or not.

There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection. To round itself out, life calls not for perfection but for completeness; and for this the “thorn in the flesh” is needed, the suffering of defects without which there is no progress and no ascent.

Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy

It is interesting that elves are depicted by Tolkien as these creatures of light, revering the stars. In The Silmarillion, men seem to have two sides, being capable of both good and evil, while elves are fundamentally kind and fair. However, every light casts a shadow. Morgoth kidnapped some elves and twisted them into orcs, who became the shadows of the elves. A balance of darkness to the light, so that the conflict is perpetuated. Once the orcs were defeated, there was nothing left for the elves in Middle Earth, and so they sailed to the West. As if there was no purpose left for them ‘here’.

It is interesting that in many cosmogonies God somehow manages to create a ‘bad’ angel, a sort of lord of chaos that becomes a nuisance to his orderly brothers. In The Silmarillion, Morgoth embodies all the negative emotions we now find in men, and devotes all his efforts to spoiling the good deeds of the rest of the Valar and to bringing darkness. Vilified as it always is, this kind of evil angel provides balance to the world. The whole myth embodies the projection of the inner conflict of opposites that man endures.

Nice as they are, those dots of light in the night sky, they provide a shadow together with their light. Every light casts a shadow. There is no good without evil. We are a collective of beings and we only reach balance as a collective, in this massive spinning top on which we live as individual illusions.