Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writing exercise from En Plein Air Writing Workshop,
led by Kathe Izzo, at the education center
and grounds of Olana, Hudson, NY, October 8, 2011
"Perceive one being as knower and known. Start by concentrating on something..."

In light of this passage [six paragraphs starting in middle of linked page ("Start by concentrating on something" to "then that person or that thing becomes the whole world")], we've been beholding and writing about nature. For this exercise you may again start from there. But at the same time consider the point of view of nature. What does the beheld - that is, nature - see when it looks at you?
I heard Morgan Freeman on Charlie Rose the other day, say that dolphins (and some whales too maybe) are the only wild creatures that will come up out of curiosity or whatever other impulse, to encounter humans. That a bear might - but you wouldn't want that encounter. Which is curious, and most likely the wild, in such close perilous parallel to us, reticently keeps its distance since - though I don't know that any single creature knows this, but perhaps in its species collective unconscious intuits that we have a tendency to run in on our bipedal steam, survey, immediately find something wanting, disturb, and like a toddler tiring of toys, muck up, lose interest, and leave - leaving havoc small or large in our Goliathan aftermath. So it's just as well that though I keep the bird feeders filled - that the chickadees don't (& not that I wish them to) alight on my hand; the woodpecker at the suet startles easily and balefully flies off if it catches me spying on it from the kitchen window. Squirrels never run up to me - though, come to think of it - chipmunks beg. I never see a bat. Vultures & hawks stay well overhead. The trees stay in their place. And yet - all these creatures, in the wild of the wilds of my untended garden - where deer when they feel themselves to be alone, decapitate my zinnnias - they must all know who I am, that woman who keeps birdseed in the shed, keeps assassin cats that roll around on the driveway, never looks exactly the same way twice - wears the most curious garments, clothes, thinner in summer, so thick in winter we hardly see her face, and while we all live in nests, or in burrows, or winter in southern climes, or hunker down in the ravines - she lives in this curious construction, a gray square box, that sits in the landscape, at night beneath the moon & canopy of stars, where vines try to clamber in the windows & through the chinks of siding, and teeming wilds encircle the unmoving house, its exterior skin exposed to the elements.

René Magritte (1898-1967), La Bonne Aventure (Good Fortune), 1939, Gouache on paper, 33.5 x 40.7 cm., Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

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