cartography

God on the Fly at Buffalo Eddy

I have been asked how pre-modern experience …

Buffalo Eddy

can relate to post-modern experience.

Disturbed Doe

It would be a pleasure to just be able to say, hey, they are the same, but that might be hard to read.

McLaughlin Canyon Rockshelters, Okanagan County

Better, perhaps, to slow down.

McLaughlin Canyon Rockshelters, Okanagan County

The first step to finding a home on an earth that you are not separated from is to realize that words are physical acts. They are physical manipulations of the mouth. To “fly,” for instance.

My Raven Buddy

Just say “fly”. Take your time. Feel your mouth as the world, the round, the whirl of ORiginal enERgy that the people of the North called the wORld.

If you’re reading this, you know this wORd, this wORld, this WhIR. You already speak it. This is not something you have to learn or earn.

So, go ahead, try it. F-L-Y.

Raven Demonstrating How to Carry the World in the Mouth at the Peshastin Pinnacles

Say it, get the breath, the wind, of the world flowing through the pinnacles of the cliffs of the teeth like a snake, or this rattler leaving the Pik’dunin (described to modern men as The Snake) to the honouring call of a Buffalo Person. Say it as FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFffffffffffff.

Transfer that wind to the sides of your mouth by drawing the snake tongue back and flattening it, and with it flattening and intensifying that wind. Do not drop the wind. This is the energy a bird knows in the “fl” of a flap.

It is the preparation for a greater efffffffffort, or a springing ffffffffforth.

Hawk, Demonstrating a Good Launch on the Search for Lunch

Got that? Fffffffffffllllllllll? Now launch the bird into the eye, the big round bowl of the mouth, the place of continued presence, the round, the drum, the eleventh letter of the alphabet, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz, and hold it: ííííííííííííííííííííííííííííííííí.

Raven in Keremeos

And you’re off. You’ve said. You can go in differing directions with this energy, into the raven above as spirit in the timeless world the body knows, or if you’re a modern person, and live here …

B Reactor, Hanford Nuclear Reservation

… and don’t “speak” “fly” but “write” it as …

… know that you are working as a different kind of spirit, that of a nameless, faceless and abstract ever-present God. Because the God is infinite and thus un-nameable, it cannot be spoken by humans, and so this ruse has been developed within a long historical context, one in which the abstract notion of the God, the name that is not a name, the I Am That I Am, is viewed instead of the body in the world, leaving that body-in-the-world as Nature, as something outside of this God-ness, that is, nonetheless, understood as something spoken by this God-ness, in a conception in which bodies are not speakers but followers — in effect, part of the spoken. (Whew.)

Nature, or, specifically, A Riparian Zone

In such a conception, a word is an abstract meaning that replaces the Earth, which can only be understood through the abstract qualities of this word. When people speak words used in such a way …

 

Yvonne Blomer Reading an As If a Raven at the 2014 Cascadia Poetry Festival in Seattle. Source

… they become classical musicians, giving their life and breath to old words, and making of their lives a performance carefully aligned to a script and adding life, breath, and emotion to it, to pull it off. By script, you can insert this modern representation of ancestral breath:

Source

It is identical to classical musical performance…

Anna Sofie von Otter (l.) Sings Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier at the Wiener Staatsoper

… except on a smaller, more intimate stage. In keeping with the representational nature of the body, such performance of self-as-performance reads words as physical experiences, which contemporary technical society understands as a kind of spiritual photograph or drawing.

Thanks to the League of Canadian Poets

Or, in the case of Raven…

Iteration 1

Iteration 2

Iteration 3 (by Yvonne Blomer)

From there to “interpretation” is a short step. Here’s how Yvonne’s publisher In these poems, Palimpsest Press, takes the step:

Yvonne Blomer explores birds and their taming through language—the Blackbird as human soul, the Pelican as atonement, the Ostrich as cowardice, and the Raven as trickster, the nearest bird to God. She touches on mythology, biblical texts, and science to ask if poetry comes as close to damaging the wild things of the world as Audubon did in his collecting of birds to create the paintings. Mimesis, Plato argues, damages the soul, but Blomer asks: what does it do to the other creatures of the world?

Iteration 4

 

In modern society, all this is the work of poets, who are the makers of objects that call forth these effects. The objects, called “poems”, are much like the spiritual sculptures of ancient Egypt …

The perfect form of the sculpture creates a soul in the empty space in front of the figure’s gaze.

… interpreted as human portraits in Ancient Greece …

The human body is the perfect form.

… and updated as Ikons in old Byzantium…

Psychological Universality is the Perfect Form

… a tradition which matured in the Orthodox Church…

Traditional Form is the Perfect Form

… and reappeared in Western tradition after the Romanian and Russian diaspora in the first two decades of the 20th Century.

Space Aligned Spiritually is the Perfect Form

And was refined in the social protest and anti-state clowning of the Brechtian theatre of the 1970s and 1980s.

Wolfgang Rihm’s 1987 Opera Hamletmaschine, after the play by Heiner Müller.

That is a long journey for the soul, but each step does not erase the steps that came before, so let us not lose sight of the Earth. If the tongue speaks the world, the world has a tongue as well. In part, the Raven, saying F-L-Y with its conjoined spirit and being (and is that not poetry?)

And in part more than the raven. The work of a poet can be other than the telling of the world’s stories. It can be the embodiment, or giving, of their presence. For an example, back to Buffalo Eddy.

 

This is the Earth’s tongue, or one of them. Note the animal skull of black stone. Note the words of sand the river deposits here in flood. Note the tongueless head …

… given human figures as voice. Note the narrative written on the body of the earth, like a tattoo.

Note it can be done. Look at the mouths of the Earth speaking water and sand.

Note that the Earth has a human body.

Note the birthing image, the bear image in the water, and the weird correlation between my shadow and the bear. (I overexposed the image in order to bring out details in the really strong afternoon light.)

Note as well that human figures stand on images of power and connection …

… which extend the spread of the human legs. It is as if one were on the top of a mountain, springing up. One is its voice.

Lewiston, Idaho

In other words, pre-modern experience relates to post-modern experience through language and the point in language and the earth it touches at which you are willing to place your identity. If you remain in the I-identity, you will remain in the American methodist model of transforming physical humans into the stuff of God (as represented in a book)…

Dake Annotated Reference Bible

… and might find it difficult to see this …

… as anything other than Nature. If, however, you accept that poetry is a quality of the world not necessarily bound to printed text, books, or their traditions, but to a tradition in which the world is physically created in the mouth …

… you may find no difference between that creation and the creation at Buffalo Eddy above, with its ancient Buffalo Person and the perhaps even-more-anciently-recognized heads erupting out of the flat stone slab behind it.  The point is not to go back to this technology but to understand its principle. After all, as I pointed out last week in Maps Written on the Land

… it is possible to write maps of the world which contain the multiple levels of presence that poetry does so well, maps which must be read poetically. In other words, poetry is a skill, not limited to word objects. A modern mind might call this creativity, a mysterious process on the very edge of understanding of the individual self because it inhabits the space of the unknowable God. It is not creativity. It is the way one thinks when one is the Earth and the World at the same time. That this most powerful of human attributes has been stripped from humans and given to a distant power is the accurate voice of human ancestors. That this distant power is inaccessible is not.  What’s more, every field of human activity would benefit from poetic intelligence, except those that break human bonds with Earth. The contemporary fashion, of healing this gap by replacing the “I” identity with a “we” identity will solve nothing. Used in this way, “we” is a crowd identity. The post-modern solution is to accept the Earth and her creatures, and the creatures our mouths shape to speak the words of our ancestors, as part of the we. It is to accept that all creatures on Earth express themselves through their bodies. We are included in this group.

So are stones. The image above is an image of this person-person, human-earth mind. So is the ceremonial fire below.

 

This site is not history. Neither are my ancestors, or yours. These are their words. When learning to speak as your ancestors, I suggest making one clear first step. This, perhaps:

Buffalo Eddy, West Bank

Try placing yourself at a distance in this scene, and exploring what remains behind. Don’t worry. The Earth won’t drop you. Let your self go. That’s enough for your first year.

 

2 replies »

  1. There is such powerful humility in this piece. “The term “humility” comes from the Latin word humilitas, a noun related to the adjective humilis, which may be translated as “humble”, but also as “grounded”, or “from the earth”, since it derives from humus (earth). See the English humus.”

    Liked by 1 person

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