I rather hope for writing and science that appears like this broken cliff at the southern end of Venables Valley Road in the Thompson.
There is narrative here, and multi-dimensional placement in space. The only way to read it is through a series of bodily relationships. What comes out is a series of bodily relationships. If read as a series of measurement points, what comes out is a consciousness, measuring. It is the great myth of Western culture that you can have a deeper relationship once you have dissected the world, and put it together again with the knowledge that comes from dissection and measurement. No. You get a stronger world of dissection, distance and measurement, leaving the relationship with the world untouched. Think of what I’m asking as similar to the relationship between these choke cherries, saskatoons, black hawthorns, wild rose and mock orange to this small cliff in Bella Vista, in the North Okanagan.
It is one category of knowledge to talk about heat units and the water-gathering (and shedding) potential of rock, as well as the mineralization it gives to the soil below it. It is another to know the relationship through your senses, using your sense of your body in space to inhabit both the plant life and the rock, both separately and at once, with no conclusion drawn from it, except the sure ability to act appropriately with your hands. The first leads to machinery. The second to expanded human capacity. The Earth isn’t big enough for the machines, while, currently, human capacity is diminishing, due to social disruption, war, mechanization, sterile social and physical environments, and so on, all reflecting the measuring capacity and the failure to reintegrate it into a bodily sense. So, let’s look at the first image again:
This kind of mapping, in which placement is multi-dimensional and carries as much meaning as surfaces, both in space and time, is precisely what poetry does and narrative does not. You cannot make an individual narrative out of this cliff, but you can make a drama, of many characters. That they are all created by one character, the speaker, is obvious, and yet this method doesn’t break the world. Translating this drama into words, and making “grass” a character, speaking human words, is not the answer, but writing scripts in which humans arrange themselves in space, with their words and thoughts as equal characters, might just do it. We know this as dance, masque, theatre and so much else — traditions that have not yet touched the land in Western approaches to this ancient land. In this sense, this is the first moment of contact. Let’s not read our “selves” this time, as observers looking in, but as observers greeting ourselves.
Looking North up the Columbia to Beacon Rock
This is not an individual observing, mapping, understanding, recording or measuring, but a drama, with many players. Think of the texture of the image above as the same as this:
These are stories, but ones that Western traditions have not learned to tell. Isn’t that wonderful? This chance we are given?