Stories R Us

Story-telling, eh. Ain’t that the art form.


Just 500 metres away, telling the following scene as a narrative, though …


… is, literally, to tell it as a narrative, although it is nothing of the kind. It’s more like this:


You can read a narrative into it, such as a story of succession, of the ingrowth of invasive weeds, of the consequences of overgrazing and the suppression of fire, or some story of natural history, but it’s still “telling” a “story”, when in fact it’s a community, in a process of opening. Any narrative in that, however, is a human story. Just the making of the image below …


… is a human story. What it represents is what the human brain filters out of the world, as reproduced by a humanly-conceived and manufactured machine. An earth can be inferred, and human emotions can be triggered, but it is not a story. I mean, the lupine and big sage below are not a narrative:


Similarly, telling it as beauty…


… or utility …


Royal Gala Apples

… are tellings, only, not “Nature.” The image below is also not “nature”:


it’s a human narrative (photograph) made out of photons of light bouncing off the skin of a bull snake hunting in a world of invasive weeds.


It is a great poverty to miss the non-human presence of the earth …


… and to have systems of art that work on audience popularity but do not ask this…


… for a response. That is not considered an artistic audience. And that is poverty. Margaret Atwood pointed out almost two generations ago that this was an issue of having developed Canada out of a series of fortified posts in a misunderstood (and feared, she says) natural and human world. One of the consequences of this kind of thinking is that it causes this …


… to be out in the world, although the concept that identity is “in here” and not bound with the world is preposterous, even arrogant. The body images (the so-called “nature” and the artifices laid on it) that come from that kind of thinking can be pretty forlorn:


Rain coast Hosta growing in the shrub steppe, poor thing.

This is how books think: through a series of experiences encapsulated in unique moments with particular boundaries (words), in progressional series (sentences, paragraphs, chapters), expressing forces (plots) for pleasure (art, tipped in illustrations, colour plates, images, adrenalin rushes, and so on.)


Tipped in Colour Plates, One Chipped

The flowers below are not in a book, though, that’s the thing. They don’t follow the patterns of book thinking.


A form of disciplined inquiry (science) is one way of responding to the earth, but it’s not the only one, and it certainly isn’t if it acts like a book.


Applied Science Acting Very Bookish and Holding Back Rocks

One result of a science tangled with book thinking can be the “study” (reading and telling) of “nature” (what is not in the book yet but will be after study.) The approach creates a human world but since the earth is not a book and is uncontainable in a book runs the risk of being only a measure of human sensory patterns. Often, this kind of book is called a garden.


Nice, isn’t it! A very human response! 

Don’t get me wrong: I love science and find its findings invaluable, and love human narratives. Nonetheless, their ends and the state of the Earth are intimately related. Why, in the Walla Walla Valley, they’re even called environmentally sound practices! Sure.


You have to be giving yourself some pretty strong story drugs to see that. Come on, with all its signals of ownership and obscuring of spiritual values in landscape, it’s like this:


New terms are needed. For instance, the ponderosa pine below is not only an instance of evolution but is present across some 150,000,000 years. That is a human narrative, of course. If we stop telling it even for a moment, the tree will come into focus as being one life opening within that time frame. It is moving at a different rate than the lichens colonizing it, and at a different rate from the shared life they have together.


It’s not a narrative, because it has no directionality. It is in one spot in one span of time. Any change opens within itself. It does, however, have depths which can be rigorously explored, although for different ends than the technological science that, for all its strength, has not always seen the earth. Call it an old riverbed turned to stone? Call it sandstone? Call it spooky? Those are all human stories. To get closer, poetry is the trick, or a science built on what poetry can do.


So, let’s start:

P2240072 Forget the fortress. from-clipboard

And forget your human body for a moment. You have older ancestors than that.P1000891

They know stuff. Listen.



The sun comes down to earth…P2310149 … grows bright …. P2320869 … fades …P1000620 …and then the sky …


… comes down to earth…P1000536 … and begins immediately…P1000527 … to climb back up.P1000688

That is a human narrative. Here’s how the Earth does it, all at once:


In her planetary context, time and space are one.


One, in the sense of “all”, without the “all-ness” of it.


And without the one.



Simple New Cross Traffic Rules to Prevent Rush Hour Fatalities

Traffic coming the other way?P1000375

Kind of dawwwwwwwdling in the middle of the lane?P1000371Not wearing contrasting clothing? Dogs and bicycles and people who hate people without legs coming soon? Here’s what to do to clear traffic. It’s a three step process. Simple. 1. Make eye contact.


2. Put the camera down! Nudge your pal so she shakes her tail like a rattlesnake and hisses like the sound of a rattle and skedaddles.


3. Keep yapping at her until she goes off to find some peace and quiet.


Show a pedestrian a little love today!


We Are Doing This Together



The bird that builds the nest builds it in the shape of its body, remembering the nest, and the egg, it comes from.P2320794

Every moment with the earth is an act of memory, whether given to words, or not. There is a language all people speak (not just humans), which is the language of bodies, which is the language of ancestors deep in time being spoken (lived) now. We are all opening.





Hefted and Haunted and Home

Here’s a word that is worth bringing back into the language: heft. Its modern form indicates a weight, or heaviness, weighed by hand. No scale required. You lift a thing to get its heft, that kind of thing.


Fair enough, but that’s not the only heft there is. An older word, hæft, is a bondage, an imprisonment, a chaining to a thing. That’s the one I want. This is a word still used to talk about sheep who have become hefted, or bound, to a mountain. They need no fences to keep them to it, because the mountain and the sheep are one. There is a modern meaning for this word as well. It’s haft, as in the haft, or handle, of an axe, which has that weight that one hefts. In German, it’s die Haft. A rough translation is: imprisonment. This haft was, originally, similar to the English. The English might have been the handle one gripped and the weight one felt as an extension of one’s body, as if one had moved out into it and was free, but this German was the grip of a hand on a person, as felt by that person, abstracted into the grip of a leg iron or the grip of the law, and transferred to the loss of freedom that grip entailed. Well, I doubt the sheep look at it that way, and, really, it’s only a modern way of thinking: the deprivation of the individual of free movement, without boundaries. Boundaries can be liberating. The old meaning, to be hefted to a mountain, is similar to another English word, haunt. To be haunted is to be home, to have your spirit so identified with a place that even after death you cannot leave your haunt, or home. It has nothing to do with ghosts. It’s a love of place. I love this place. It brings me great joy. I haunt it. I am hefted to it. But I’m fine with the modern meanings as well: I am haunted by it; I am in haft. I feel its grip. I give myself to it. I am bound.

Peshastin Pinnacles

The new words are great for the new world. For the things the world has forgotten and is trying to remember through us, the old ones still live.

The Anthropocene Is An Illusion

You know the idea that the earth has entered a new geological age, one created by humans? For sure, humans have messed the earth up, big time. This is called a tide zone now.


Abandoned capitalized petrochemical killing nets.

But let’s just step aside from this macabre human interest in death and human greatness. It’s vanity. For instance, this islet …


… has more than one face. Seen from the north, it looks like this:


Yes, it’s a giant walking through the sea, neck deep. Is it just a rock? Of course it is a rock, but that’s not the point. The point is words. Here’s one: island. Like all words bound with the earth, it is a word that narrates perspective. Is it a rock jutting out of the sea?


Or is it one with the sea?


One leads to the anthropocene, one leads away from it. That’s a human capacity, a kind of generalness that irons out specificity. Like all words, island doesn’t just come from nowhere. It comes from deep observation of the world by indigenous, ancestral humans. It’s a point in the sea that is a thickening, a point of observation. You can see it from a distance and guide yourself by it, or you can stand on it and be within the sea and see the sea as part of yourself. Either way, it is a space of seeing, that looks out and looks in. Here are two:

joseph3Joseph of the Nimíipuu

The spheres hanging from his ears make 2 into 4 and all the world.

Ancestrally, to the people who made English (and Old Norse) out of their lives in the world, an island was a space of power that could take two forms, depending on your position. It is not a space of rock in the sea, but an eye. That’s not to say that it is modelled on human or animal eyes, but that the eye, the clot, the point of interchange precedes them both. Here it is:


That’s right, a yolk, the eye in the egg, the island in the shell. This is the word, the y, the ey, the eye, the egg, and so on. It’s not rock, a human sight organ, or a part of an egg. It’s this:

P2280417 redheart P2260373 zenheart P2280545 P2260332 P2260157Please, let’s not diminish it by saying it is a human recognition of human bodies written in the world. Of course, it’s that, but it’s also  a point of energy interface. Human bodies and human intentions, as our ancestors saw them, were one with the world. You have to deviate from that to create the anthropocene, which means deviating from indigenous peoples, including your ancestors, and a form of energy reliant on a perspective based upon the earth, for one based upon a different eye, the I, which is based on that abstracting principle. So, please, if you care about this planet, if you want to heal her, start from this one principle:

humans today have been trained not to interact with the energy transfer systems of the earth except through technology, including art.

If you don’t see the eye in the islet and the islet in the eye, that’s all the proof you need. Talking about the anthropocene, when humans have the capacity to fix this with every spoken word, is just vain and obscene. Don’t leave your art lying around on the shore.


And please don’t relativize this message.



What Crows Know About People in Cascadia

When Coyote trades his eyes for pebbles like Crow’s below, he can’t see a thing.P2280807

It’s very funny. Each pebble is the world.


Hard to choose! Each one really is the world.


In each, the world appears to a differing degree of purity, but each one is the world.



With an eye like that you can see the forces of the universe. Nebulas, star clusters, black holes, dark matter, that kind of thing.


But you might not see the audience.P2290460

Crow, who’s telling this joke is happy about that, because he’s having a bad hair day.


A really bad hair day.


And, really, he wants you to see him like this:


In my country on the north eastern Pacific shore, this is funny stuff. The world is a joke here. It’s not something to deflate human pretensions. That’s a human pretension. Best just to laugh. You can’t hide here.P2290166

So, which one is it?


A pair perhaps?


One note: you can’t tell this story, because you’re in it. Here’s its author.


As for human pretensions, they’re not funny. Oh, wait, yes they are.



Even when they get away from themselves they do it together. Now, that’s a joke worth sharing.


Bad hair or not.

How To Tell If You’re Living in the Sky

When you’re looking at the sky you’re in, no problem. You can’t see it.

Then the problems start. How do you tell this sky …


… from this one?


Is it that in one of them the wind leaves ripples?


Or is it that in one of them the wind leaves clouds?


Well, that’s what it’s like to live in the sky, I guess.