Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April 5, 2009

Some thoughts on wilderness and fiction

Continuing the wilderness theme of a couple posts back, here's a quote by Wallace Stegner:

"We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope." --from The Wilderness Letter

And a couple more by Stegner on fiction:

"In Fiction I think we should have no agenda but to tell the truth."

"How to write a story, though ignorant or baffled? You take something that is important to you, something you have brooded about. You try to see it as clearly as you can, and to fix it in a transferable equivalent. All you want in the finished print is the clean statement of the lens...Sure it's autobiography. Sure it's fiction. Either way if you have done it right, it's true."

Alter-vision

I've lost my glasses, somehow. And it's odd how not-seeing-clearly changes everything. I feel a little disoriented, off-balance, half-expecting objects to take advantage of my fuzzy vision and rise up and trip me. Is the floor tilting? I wouldn't actually know. I'm really quite blind, got my glasses in fourth grade and have clung to corrective lenses ever since. And yet...

Before glasses I had none of these troubles. Things far-away just had less detail, that's all, and here's the rub: I think I lost something when I began to see with eye-crutches. When I look at the mountains and the trees today, and remember not to panic because, dang! I can't see anything without glasses, I can see their beauty as well as ever. Better than ever. Weird. I see the shapes and colors and the way the rain has washed the browns deeper, and the reds brighter, and the greens greener, only now it's like looking at an impressionist painting. I take a deep breath to calm myself…

Wildness and a little poetry

With the possible destruction of my favorite canyon looming, I'm feeling a little too much, with Gerard Manley Hopkins, that the world "wears man's smudge, and shares man's smell." Which puts me in the mood for more Hopkins. Here's his "Inversnaid," a poem with great sounds, that captures my feeling perfectly, though it's about a loch, not a mountain. Read it aloud for full effect:

This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be lef…