Ethics

What’s the Point?

I’ve been asked: what’s the point of all this? Good question. Here, this is the point.

Big Sage and Crested Wheat Grass

Lots of points

In a culture that gives priority at all times to abstractions, including the abstraction of “nature” or the one of “culture” or the deadly ones of “indigenous” and “settler” people, so much so that all books are the same book being written over and over, with different content but the same voice, the sacred individual of the West, with the same heroic journey, it’s best not to use words that much. Now the AI pundits are saying that machines are smarter than people. I promise, they have never read a poem without a point. They aren’t fully developed humans. How sad. Here’s a point. 

Big Sage Dealing With Drought

You see how each leaf has three tips, and each leaf is covered in hair, that makes a tiny atmosphere that protects the plant from evaporation? That’s not a point. It is an expression of here. She lives here; here requires that. Of course, there’s more. Our roads, for instance, our mapped ways of travel and telling stories with our bodies in replacement of thought. They’re everywhere. In the language of “here”, though, they are actually gardens, and, what do you know, we drive over them, again and again, despite frost’s lessons that here, in what we call the desert, there is water, and life, and food. “Here.”

Vernon Residential (No Kidding) Street 

So what’s the point? The point is this:

Hoh Rain Forest

The point is that there is no point. There are flows. There are ways of blending and mixing together. And there are ways of relativizing flow into an abstraction of wavelengths of energy, refraction angles, and so on. That’s not indigenous, and this is about being of a place. It doesn’t start from somewhere else. It’s not in an I voice that speaks as a book. It starts here.

A Chapter in a Story, but in No Book

There is always a story, a secwepemc elder taught me. It always comes first. Practical considerations, although important, relate back to the story. In the oldest conceptions of this land, there are no maps, only stories, linked chains of relationships and transformation and rights to be at the point at which the Earth gives forth. But land is the wrong term. It’s Illahie. My own hedgerow, my own fish weir, my own bone game, that has been played here for 14,000 years, to determine who gets to eat and who is the one who is eaten, or, to put it another way, who has access to the spirit world through the earth and who doesn’t. So, not a game. Take a look at these Siya? bushes.

Each is scattered at the distance of a bird pooping out a seed when startled by a human picker coming to share the crop. Is there a point to that? No, there is a flow. There is a human-robin interface. In Siya?, robins and humans are one, and this garden is the result. Here, here’s what this land looks like.

Secwepemc Illahie

See? A flow, and the space around it. Both are here. As for a point. Here’s one of the old stories.

It has no point. I have been on a journey away from Western culture. It has been strange and humbling, but here I am. Trying to figure this out without collapsing into the I that dominates all books today, and erases the land that has asked me to speak for her. What’s the point of that, when you can speak with Kojoti?

What you hear doesn’t have to be in words. Do I understand it? No. But understanding is the same as making a point, or receiving one. I don’t know how all this works. That’s not the point. I am walking into the light.

 

2 replies »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.