Saturday, December 01, 2007


Detachment from the past, which we characterized as the main feature of the post-Christian era, culminates in one way or another with detachment from the earth –“this earth…these oaks,” to recall Vico’s words about the giants who established the first human dwellings. For reasons that remain altogether obscure, Western civilization has decided to promote institutions of dislocation in every dimension of social and cultural existence. The international hegemony of these institutions – metropolis, economy, media, ideology -- has led to an aggravated confusion about what it means to dwell on the earth. This confusion, in turn, veils itself in oblivion. If the “end of history” means anything at all, it means that we now dwell in oblivion – in oblivion of the meaning of dwelling. To some extent this oblivion is only natural, for dwelling does not preserve its meaning by making an explicit issue of itself; it embeds itself in habit, ritual and repetition; but when its meaning has disintegrated or lost its basis, that is to say when it has suffered fundamental traumas, then oblivion becomes a force of destruction rather than of preservation.

--Robert Pogue Harrison, from Forests: the Shadow of Civilization

This is exactly what my new manuscript is about. And now I know that.

I wish my digital camera worked still. I'd like to post a photo of the view from my desk window: Three snow-covered rooftops, and more snow falling. Some treetops and one giant old tree. Occassional flight of the hawk who lives in that tree, and of her new mate. Dusk.

I feel like I know more about dwelling when it snows.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you know we are soul sisters, yes? no matter how many times i don't call you back. xoxo megs