Tuesday, December 6, 2011


It was by this time about nine in the morning, and the first fog of the season. A great chocolate-coloured pall lowered over heaven, but the wind was continually charging and routing these embattled vapours; so that as the cab crawled from street to street, Mr. Utterson beheld a marvellous number of degrees and hues of twilight; for here it would be dark like the back-end of evening; and there would be a glow of a rich, lurid brown, like the light of some strange conflagration; and here, for a moment, the fog would be quite broken up, and a haggard shaft of daylight would glance in between the swirling wreaths.

NOTE:    I've been growing (as I expect you may have also) angry lately hearing the expression "the fog of war" used over and over in the news (by journalists, diplomats, even soldiers) to describe and in a very real sense justify the "atrocity of the day" (most recently the terrible killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers last week in a NATO raid supposedly launched in error against "friendly" forces).  Sometimes it seems to be spoken as an answer before a question is even asked.  

I’ve always loved fog – clouds on the ground -- rolling through them on foot.  The passage here, in case you don’t recognize it, is from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which contains many fog references.  In a fit of pique, I decided to Google “the fog of peace,” not realizing that it too has become a cliché – a tiresome “irony cliché” that has been adopted by political journalists, historians, etc.  Too bad, it’s an evocative phrase without the politics and attitude.  I’ll stick with “peaceful fog,” although that’s not very Dr Jekyll, a long short story where peace is in very small supply.


  1. Great quote. I love the degrees and hues of twilight. My sister is an artist who works with dyes and she loves the fog, the twilight and dawn, the times when light and clouds mix--
    They are the source of her inspiration.
    And whenever I take photos, I like a foggy day, or those same times when the light and weather are changing. Too much light, and I am not as interested.

  2. Thank you, Nin. I agree with you about light, clouds and twilight. It's very pleasant where we live in Pennsylvania (Berwyn in Chester County) and I wake up to the most beautiful shades of light all the time. Because I'm always up before dawn, I get to see the trees appear and the day develop like I used to see things in a darkroom. Today started out gray and foggy; now it's simply a purply gray. I must throw myself into a round of communicating with the world when it's really the last thing I want to do, but (as Con Edison used to say, I believe) "Dig we must." Curtis