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Sand and kelp on the beach at Breithavik.

A Grain of Sand

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

William Blake (1803)


The air in Iceland in high summer is so clearr that 50 miles looks like a comfortable walk - until you naively set out! We can see a level of detail unimaginable in most climates. Icelandic air is not necessary to see more, looking closer often offers us new worlds. A fisherman mending his net on Madras beach. Bringing attention to what is here seems to have been a power Blake understood. There is an anthropocentric prejudice at work here. Just as we came to understand that the sun does not revolve around our earth, so too we can see that our perspective on the material world is very partial. For us a grain of sand is small, and the galaxy large, for a molecule of that sand both we and the galaxy are indistinguishably vast. Consciousness is always from a point of view: viewpoint Looking over the River Tweed towards the Eidon Hills in southern Scotland. Continues the idea of viewpoint and especially of how there is no view from 'nowhere'. is essential to consciousness.

Blake wrote the poem Auguries of Innocence (of which these are the opening lines) into his notebook as a cry against our loss of connection with nature, and not at all as a metaphysical recipe. The poem was not published until 1863 - 36 years after his death.

This sand is on the beach at Breiāˆ‚avik on the north-west coast of Iceland.

Above hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 3rd November 2018

Murphy on duty to this site