Saturday, October 15, 2005


I once knew a man who would get uncontrollable cravings for avocados when the moon was full. He would walk purposefully into the kitchen, slice one up, and still standing at the counter, would slide piece after slippery piece down his throat, barely chewing it as if he were a penguin eating sardines. Then he would go to work on another one. The most I ever saw him eat was four avocados in a row, all of them in this singleminded way that was driven by a hunger the origins of which medical science as of yet has failed to explain. But it was absolutely riveting to watch.

Apparently the scientific world is still mystified by this phenomenon, otherwise known as the 'lunar effect'. In hospitals for example, there seems to be just as many studies that document more activity in emergency rooms on full moon nights as there are studies that document the opposite. The most convincing argument to explain 'lunacy' is that hospital staff simply notice weird stuff more when there's a full moon compared to nights without one. It then becomes nothing more than a manifestation of the human instinct to assign meaning to things. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You already believe it and then you notice it more.

But regardless of any scientific skepticism, people continue to be fascinated by the mystical relationship between man and moon. A fascination that resulted in none other than the "Sunset-Moonrise hike" in the San Gabriel mountains tonight where it was promised:

Once a month the moon is full because it rises exactly when the sun sets, and the heavenly relationship between these celestial bodies casts a glorious image upon the earth caught in the middle. In order to take full advantage of nature's magnificent monthly trick, we will hike to the summit of historic Mt. Lowe at sunset, and watch as the sun's amber splashdown in the Pacific silhouettes several mountain ranges to the west. As the setting sun unveils the moon to the East, we will watch as the moon's soft light casts its glow upon the lives of 10 million people over a mile below, and the great LA basin spreads itself before us like a jeweled table cloth.

Right, 'jeweled tablecloth' my ass. Nothing of the sort took place. This picture I took, approximately 30 minutes before sunset on the way up the mountain, was fatefully to be the last we would see of either sun or moon. A blanket of clouds blew over the entire mountain, the temperature plummeted 20 degrees, and just as we reached the foggy peak in complete darkness, the heavens opened up and started to downpour on our already trampled spirits. There was no lunar magic tonight.

But regardless, there are still too many unexplainable phenomena to totally discard the possibility of a true lunar effect. We still can't explain why crabs appear to molt according to the lunar cycle. Why women have their period with the moon. Why the full moon seems to aggravate schizophrenics and people with bipolar disorders. Why people continue to anthropomorphosize the moon, why the world is still fascinated with lunar eclipses though we know the science behind it, and why tonight, for the life of me I can't seem to get to sleep until the moon has begun to set in the godforsaken sky.

No comments: