The Song and Dance of the Spheres

As I lay awake in the early hours abandoning all hope of sleep (abandon sleep all ye who enter here) I was thinking about the music of the spheres. In ancient times they had an idea that the spheres – ie the planets and the sun – made a kind of music inaudible to our ears, but real to those tuned in to it. It was not literal music but an idea of harmony and it was also linked with dance. Just as you cannot have dance without music, so to the ancient mind the planets could not move without their own kind of music. Everything was in harmony and everything knew its place.

Nowadays we’ve thrown out all such ideas. Any harmony is in the human mind, not ‘out there’; the universe is random and movements are governed by forces we partly know and partly have yet to discover. Yet if we set aside the notion of hierarchy there is something very appealing in the notion that everything in the universe works in harmony in a fusion of music and dance. C S Lewis picks up this idea in the Narnia books: in Prince Caspian the young prince is taken to see the conjunction of two stars, Tarva and Alambil: they are so close together that he asks whether the stars will collide. ‘Nay,’ says his tutor, ‘they know their dance too well for that.’ And in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Caspian actually meets a retired star living on a remote island. Every day he is brought a live coal from the mountains of the sun and every day he grows a little younger: soon he will take his place once more at the Eastern rim of the world and begin the dance.

There’s something hypnotic and deeply spiritual about dance; and perhaps this accounts for why I dislike Strictly so much. I know it’s tantamount to heresy to say this, particularly since Bill Bailey won it, but I just can’t stand it. I can’t quite put my finger on why but I think it may be this; that in all the competition, the spangly-twirliness, the light-flashin’, lip-smackin’, costume-wearin’, the relentless cheering and the acrobatics, something of the soul is missing. Popular it may be; dance of the spheres it ain’t.

I’m going to leave you with a couple of my favourite dances on film. The first is from A Knight’s Tale where a stately dance to medieval music morphs seamlessly, almost imperceptibly into Bowie’s Golden Years:

video removed on request.

And this. Almost any dance scene from La La Land would do, it’s a totally magical film but I’m going to leave you with this. It was filmed almost in one take early in the morning just outside L A and it’s stunning.

video removed on request

Enjoy! Have a little twirl yourself – but do it with soul.

Kirk out

3 thoughts on “The Song and Dance of the Spheres

  1. Oh I love this notion and believe it sounds true – the dance of Spheres. I’m sure their are more enlightened folk that can hear or feel the rhythm. Reading this has made me feel at peace with the world – thank you p.s. also not a Strictly fan though loved the Australian film Strictly Ballroom

  2. I’m with you on Strictly, with the same vehemence but not all the same reasons. I have great respect for Bill Bailey, and he seems like a genuinely likeable chap, as well as being very entertaining, wearing his obvious musical competence very lightly. This didn’t entice me to watch Strictly, however. I would very much enjoy watching him live, but preferably in a smaller venue than the now common stadium gigs, which are also ridiculously expensive. For some reason; nonconformism [bordering on outright anarchism, perhaps]; I have never enjoyed organised dancing, and if I have ever had to participate because of an inclusion in a dramatic piece I have been in, it has been very difficult to disguise my abhorrence. I’m not “a joiner” [although I was a carpenter 😉 ]: perhaps that’s it. The only form of dance I’ve ever enjoyed has been disco dancing, so the ’70s & ’80s were enjoyable for that reason. Of course, if my daughters are watching, I do an exaggerated “Dad dance”, much to their amusement, even though they know I’m faking it 😀

    On the subject of spirituality, in my belief system, the universe is not random, but that’s as far as I really want to go, because I could be here all day expounding on it, which would be really tedious! I had an amusing exchange on Facebook yesterday with my sister-in-law, in a follow-up to a comment about how those of a religious bent have commandeered the current celestial body conjunction for their own purposes [“the new star of Bethlehem”, and the like]; I responded that it depends on one’s belief system, to which she responded, somewhat tersely: “I don’t have a belief system.” Presumably, I offended her by accusing her of some sort of spirituality, which her rational view of life isn’t able to accept. I didn’t mean it in such a narrow sense: more how our worldview is determined [and our world is formed] by our core beliefs, so I might have to explain this to her in rather more detail! Cheers, Jon.

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