Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Almost But Not Quite Summer Solstice Post

We all know how important the summer solstice is to a wide and diverse array of traditional and modern cultures...

...(at least I think we all do)...(those of you who don’t, please Google summer solstice)...(then come right back)...(we’ll wait)...

...(everybody else, please breathe mindfully and maybe do a couple sun salutations)..., everybody should know that the summer solstice is not, in fact, till Monday...

Yet, with fireflies abundant as beads of sweat on my forehead...(not to mention, hell, if I can’t go to the store in October without hearing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, three or four days early ain't much)...and in the fervent hope that, like Bob’s Gita Talk, this blog may inspire fruitful and enlightening discussion, I’ve delved into the vast wealth of oral and written traditions, pictographs, and ancient monoliths from around the world to find some ancient, revered, and highly meaningful lines to share on this almost-but-not-quite-summer-solstice...

Callin’ out around the world,
are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summer’s here and the time is right
for dancin’ in the street...

Martha and the Vandellas*

Some thought-provoking questions to get us started:

1) Does the reference to a brand new beat imply a refutation of traditional, cyclical conceptions of seasonal change in favor of a more urban paradigm, as suggested by the evocation of the street as a site for dancing?

2) Should summer’s here and the time is right be understood to assert a prohibitive view toward dancing at other times of the year? Or, are we to understand that it is only during the summer months that the streets are acceptable for dancing, while dancing inside or on the grass are permitted at other times? Might the implication be that streets are the only locations where dancing is condoned during the summer months, indicating a prohibitive view toward dancing anywhere else during this period of the year?

3) Does this emphasis on streets reflect a tension with the then thriving beach party culture (see Funicello, Annette)? If so, can streets be interpreted in a more contemporary context as representing any outdoor area (including, conceivably, the beach)?

4) If we take callin' out around the world literally, should people in the southern hemisphere also dance in the street, even though it's the beginning of winter there, and they might catch a chill?

5) In the lines that follow, particular locations are named:

Dancin’ in Chicago, down in New Orleans,
New York City, All we need is music...

Do these locations embody particular spiritual significance—like Jerusalem, Mysore, Mecca, or the vortexes in Sedona? Should we take this as a call to make pilgrimages to these locations at the solstice?

6) How are we to take the cryptic statement all we need is music? Is the implication that music can sustain life in the absence of other nourishment?

7) Or does it imply that the street dancing here called for is in fact a fertility ceremony, and that, if it is performed properly, at the summer solstice, crops will be abundant and the people’s needs met?

8) Might dancing be taken metonymically to represent merriment in general?

9) Or is it all, really, about sex?

10) William James wrote

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.

What happens when common sense dances in the street?

Please try to keep the discussion civil.

* ...while originally passed down to us by the esteemed Martha Reeves, these lines are believed to have originated with William “Mickey” Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter, and Marvin Gaye...though known to many primarily through translations, interpretations, and commentaries by the likes of David Bowie, the Grateful Dead, the Carpenters, and Van Halen...(as well as more gnostic readings by Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones in which racing and fighting, respectively, are substituted for dancing)...

*Those readers whose brains aren't completely overloaded by this highly sophisticated discussion might want to check out my latest at Elephant: Compassion is Complicated, or Idiot Compassion or Generosity*


patti said...

If sex is involved, I'd rather dance on the soft, green, springy grass and in my southern hemisphere balmy, summer solstice, thankyou very much :)

Music has sustained my life on many occasions btw.

Elize said...

this is grand!! happy not-quite-solstice to you :)

Bob Weisenberg said...

I'm certain that #9 is the only correct answer to this highly entertaining quiz.

Bob Weisenberg

Melissa said...

I have nothing intelligent to contribute other than I like dancing in the street...actually on the beach or in a field. Also, the place I'd most like to be on summer solstice is in my mom's backyard eating the harvest from her garden next to a fire in Florida. But alas, it looks like I'll be harvesting salad greens from my backyard in DC instead.

Eco Yogini said...

I actually agree with statement (ummm, forget and don't feel like checking back, which would in fact break the 'flow' of my comment skillz) that the song is IN FACT about music resulting in sustenance through dancing. Cuz who hasn't felt revitalized after a really good dance-on??

Dr Jay, you are BACK!! :) Welcome back, I missed you!

Yarrow said...

Great post! A good laugh this morning is just what I needed. Blessings.

Bob Weisenberg said...

Gee, YfC. Everyone assumes you were just kidding about the questions, but I know you were really expecting people to answer them, right? So here goes:


2) No.

3) Refuse to answer on the grounds it would reveal that I know who Annette Funicello is and saw those movies when they first came out.

4) No only in their own proper mating season.

5) No.

6) Don't understand question. What else do YOU need?

7) Yes.

8) metonymically ??? Who you trying to impress?

9) Yes.

10) That's heavy. Don't know.

When do we get our grades, Professor?

Bob Weisenberg

WR said...

Okay, let me just chime in that I very much like the photo. Also noted that it is 'off center' and that in and of itself says something! :)

I've not seen a single firefly...perhaps they do not inhabit Puget Sound. It is cold and damp here ~ perhaps they have taken their love interest elsewhere.

If we don't take the we still pass the course?

earthtoholly said...

Since YogaDemystified answered every question, I was compelled to go back and match up his answers and am now too tired (lazy) to answer them myself.

Metonymical...embarrassed to say, new word for me, however, I'm tickled pink to have learned it.

And speaking of pink, that's a mighty purty peony you've captured there!

p.s. your link to the song didn't work for me...'tis okay...I've heard it :o)

Lana Gramlich said...

The quote from William James is really cool. Thanks for that!

Brooks Hall said...

...dancin' in Chicago!!...<3<3<3


Wishin' you well, Dr. jay!