Friday, December 2, 2016

A post-post-truth, post-normalized blog post

More than an hour ago (~2:00 pm), I was driving home after doing some errands. There, in the middle of a field, next to Old Highway 61, were a pair of whitetail does. They were in their somber Winter gray dun pelage, and seemed to be feeding on something or other. Or, they might just have been hanging out at the corner of a couple of deer trails hoping a handsome whitetail buck would wander by. Since hunting season is still winding down (I think archery and black powder seasons are still open), I was really surprised to see them out in the clear near mid-day. But then, this has been a year of surprises, hasn't it. I wouldn't be terribly shocked if many of us spent the better(?) part of the next four years scratching our heads and muttering something like "What 'n hell now?

whitetail doe at road's edge
whitetail doe at road's edge
Photo by J. Harrington

For the record, I don't accept the idea that we are in a "post-truth" phase or stage or age. In fact, I reject the concept that there is such a thing as post-truth. If there is the equivalent to being a Luddite on changes in the English language, sign me up. I don't intent to "normalize" the use of the non-word "normalize." I'm trying to figure out if being an equal opportunity anti-sexist, anti-Islamaphobe, anti-anti-Semite, anti-racist, anti-[fill in group discriminated against here] means that I'm actually a full-fledged, died-in-the-wool misanthrope. That wouldn't surprise me in the least. I've long had strong leanings in that direction. As a pleasant surprise, however, I did find some wonderful language earlier today, in a Tweet from @MiaMphotography. It was a brief quotation from one of my favorite misanthropes, Ed Abbey. A longer version below appears to be from the documentary A Voice in the Wilderness.
“How strange and wonderful is our home, our earth, with its swirling vaporous atmosphere, its flowing and frozen liquids, its trembling plants, its creeping, crawling, climbing creatures, the croaking things with wings that hang on rocks and soar through fog, the furry grass, the scaly seas. To see our world as a space traveler might see it, for the first time, through Venusian eyes or Martian antennae, how utterly rich and wild it would seem, how far beyond the power of the craziest, spaced-out, acid-headed imagination, even a god’s, even God’s, to conjure up from nothing. Yet some among us have the nerve, the insolence, the brass, the gall to whine about the limitations of our earthbound fate and yearn for some more perfect world beyond the sky. We are none of us good enough for the sweet earth we have, and yet we dream of heaven.”
Abbey's words reflect much the same sentiment as Robert Travers' Testament of a Fisherman. For the sake of my sanity, I'm planning on spending lots of time during the next few years reading much more of Ed Abbey and David Brower and Robert Travers and Leslie Marmon Silko and others of their ilk. We have let the barbarians through the gates and the genie out of the bottle. Damage containment is needed. One of Abbey's best poems offers some more:

Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous,
leading to the most amazing view.

May your rivers flow without end,

meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells,

past temples and castles and poets' towers

into a dark primeval forest

where tigers belch and monkeys howl,

through miasmal and mysterious swamps

and down into a desert of red rock,

and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm

where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs,

where deer walk across the white sand beaches,

where storms come and go

as lightning clangs upon the high crags,

where something strange and more beautiful

and more full of wonder than

your deepest dreams waits for you--

beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.
                                  Edward Abbey


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