Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Artificial Obvious

I'm reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (for the time being, we'll see how long I stick with it).  I can't decide whether I like it or I find it pretentious (which will probably determine how long I stick with it). I do like this section, so post it here:

If I can't see these minutiae, I still try to keep my eyes open. I'm always on the lookout for antlion traps in sandy soil, monarch pupae near milkweed, skipper larvae in locust leaves. These things are utterly common, and I've not seen one. I bang on hollow trees near water, but so far no flying squirrels have appeared. In flat country I watch every sunset in hopes of seeing the green ray. The green ray is a seldom-seen streak of light that rises from the sun like a spurting fountain at the moment of sunset; it throbs into the sky for two seconds and disappears. One more reason to keep my eyes open. A photography professor at the University of Florida just happened to see a bird die in midflight; it jerked, died, dropped, and smashed on the ground.  I squint at the wind because I read Stewart Edward White: "I have always maintained that if you looked closely enough you could see the wind -- the dim, hardly-made-out, fine d├ębris fleeing high in the air." White was an excellent observer, and devoted an entire chapter of The Mountains to the subject of seeing deer: "As soon as you can forget the naturally obvious, then you too will see deer."

But the artificial obvious is hard to see. My eyes account for less than one percent of the weight of my head; I'm bony and dense; I see what I expect. (This edition, page 24, italics hers, bold mine)
Linked to Wednesday with Words at Ordo-Amoris. Join us with a quote from your current read!


  1. I'm such a bad blog administrator. I love comments and accidentally deleted *two* on this post. One by Cindy @ Ordo Amoris and one by Amy @ Mt. Hope.

    Cindy said that she has had a similar experience with the book, but hasn't totally given up on it forever.

    Amy said she hadn't read Dillard, but that the quote was dense with meaning.

    Ladies, if I misunderstood, please forgive me. And forgive me for deleting you! I can't believe I did it and am really mad at myself.

  2. What a great quote! The writing style is a bit cumbersome though, so I understand why you are undecided about the book Dawn.

    Intentionally seeing what is right in front of us requires diligence. Our brains are wired to notice changes; that is what keeps us alive. Appreciating the obvious goes against our own biology. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and notice.


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