Here’s a book I can’t believe I missed out on when PopMatters posted it last October—Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light sounds like a fascinating read. It traces the history of artifically-created and transported light from the end of the last Ice Age, when we first began to express ourselves, to today’s massive power grids going unexamined by… nearly everyone. But artificial light is one of the most valuable things we’ve ever produced—it allows us to take information with us wherever we go, to perceive when natural conditions create imperceptibility (or, more clearly stated: nighttime), and to create clarity where we instinctually experience fear.
Nearly every summer, Chicago has at least one crippling blackout riccocheting from neighborhood to neighborhood, and I relish them. The city’s silent, you suddenly rememeber what it’s like to hear nothing but the natural world around you. The light quality is completely different during these blackouts as well—reading at night is by candle light, and it’s a much more intimate experience. I’t s during those times I realize what a gift electric light actually is.
Pick up the book here, at Amazon.