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J Cage: Music is permanent; only listening is intermittent

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


America has never been easy, and is not easy today.  Americans have always been at a certain tension.  Their liberty is a thing of sheer will, sheer tension: a liberty of THOU SHALT NOT.
            —DH Lawrence

This is a crime story in a large and violent place.  Too large for subject and object.
—Susan Howe

An American is a complex of occasions.
            —Charles Olson

A change in attention is a change in culture.
            —Guy Davenport

It’s fall time in NC.  The old mill that we just moved into in Sugar Grove (about six miles outside of Boone where we are teaching) is surrounded by fog most every morning…  I’m up early enough walking Franklin that I’ve already been wearing a winter jacket.  One of the first things that we hear after our slatted door creaks open is the sound of overripe apples hitting the asphalt.  I have been listening to Gillian Welch at night, driving in the dark on mountain roads and I have been thinking a lot about Welch’s meditative and radiantly frayed journey through the American underworld “I Dream A Highway” (Time, The Revelator)—a song that scrapes rock bottom (“an empty wagon/ full of rattling bones”) to inhabit and pay homage to the isolations, busted hopefulness, dangerous lures and shattered ecstasies of American experience “blind and blistered by the morning white.”  Patron saint: Jack of Diamonds.  Clocking in just shy of fifteen minutes, “I Dream A Highway” initiates a trance and a sacrifice of breath—a desperate prayer for occupation and renewal.

As the crumbling “silver vision” of America gives way to exhaustion, anxiety, and paranoia, Welch turns to embrace American audacity and American stubbornness: “John,/ he’s/ kicking out/ the footlights.// The Grande/ Old Opry’s/ got a/ brand new band.//  Lord,/ let me die/ with a hammer/ in my hand.”  Welch’s wrenching desire to die with a hammer in her hand like John Henry acknowledges America as a dangerous proposal and a call to wakefulness that often comes at great cost because wakefulness requires us to live with (to carry) the burden of American experience.  Calling to Lazarus to step out from the edge of the window shade, Welch attempts to provide the comfort of company, asking, “Let me/ see the marks/ that death/ has made”—a request for dark knowledge that will occupy and overtake her.  Lazarus’ timid reluctance also foretells a shaky experienced resurrection that is perforated by loss.  It marks an edge exhilarating and shot through with terror that reminds us how the end of HD Thoreau's Walden anticipates F O’Conner’s brutal conversion narratives: “The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us.  Only that day dawns to which we are awake.  There is more day to dawn.  The sun is but a morning star.”  The Misfit: “She would have been a good women if someone would have been there to shoot her every day of her life” (“A Good Man is Hard to Find”).

“I Dream A Highway” is dark prophecy.  Welch looks inward and finds that the most intense locality is a dark forest. DH Lawrence: “My soul is a dark forest” (Studies in Classic American Literature).  She responds generously, in kind, making way for the world-weary, poor and disenfranchised, the lost and left behind who can’t “get with it.”  She calls to country singers, killers, junkies, gamblers, and exhausted Hollywood waitresses eclipsed by their demons and the broken narratives of “progress” with the dignity and dogged force of John Henry.  And we need her.  (Especially now that Johnny Cash has set out for the next place.)  Ghosts come with the full weight of their experience and transgressions and we need them too.  Welch: “What will sustain us/ through the winter?”  How do we do better?  “Last year’s lessons” don’t hold.  Welch: “Walk me out into/ the rain and snow.”

Allowing ourselves to merge with the dissonance, joy and terrors that haunt the American landscape is to be turned over like the soil—it means we must learn to commune with the dead: “Give me/ some of/ what/ you’re having.//  I’ll/ take you as a viper/ into/ my head.//  A knife/ in my bed,/ arsenic/ when I’m fed.” Welch is willing to be occupied and the seductive rhythm and lull of her voice and guitar pulls us into the wake of the transformation with her (“You be/ Emmylou and/ I’ll be/ Gram”).  She’s willing to draw the short straw.

One of our great American prophets, C Olson, claims that “SPACE,” “the central fact” of American experience, “comes large, and without mercy” in Call Me Ishmael, his thrilling, innovative reading of H Melville’s Moby-Dick.  Olson frames Melville as a harbinger who forces us to read and, thus, confront the darkness that we nest and carry beneath our exuberance and optimism: “Whitman we have called our greatest voice because he gave us hope.  Melville is the truer man.  He lived intensely his people’s wrong, their guilt.  But he remembered the first dream.  The White Whale is more accurate than Leaves of Grass.  Because it is America, all of her space, the malice, the root.”  “I Dream A Highway” is harrowing because the weird energy and warped momentum of American life is harrowing.  It overtakes us.  It will.  Stepping out into the space manifest by “progress” is a means of acknowledging that there must be a change of attention.  It’s our way “back to you,” to step into the expansiveness of Whitman’s “you” on the open road (“I Dream A Highway”).  We simply cannot afford to proceed without being mindful of the fact that we are in momentum with (married to) the wreckage of our origins because American experience is “a winding ribbon/ with a/ band of/ gold” (“I Dream A Highway”).  Like Olson’s Ishmael, Welch brings our darkness to light:  “It was Ishmael who learned the secrets of Ahab’s blasphemies from the prophet of the fog, Elijah.  He recognized Pip’s God-sight, and moaned for him.  He cries forth the glory of the crew’s humanity.  Ishmael tells their story and their tragedy as well as Ahab’s, and thus creates the Moby-Dick universe in which the Ahab-world is, by the necessity of life—of the Declaration of Independence—included” (Call Me Ishmael).  Moby-Dick is a primary American parable.  Ahab is a captain of industry, locked in self-sight.  We live with his darkness (death drive) every day.  His cruelty, greed and ambition (idolatry) are a part of our experience.  “I Dream A Highway” traces wrenched echoes to remind us that this darkness extends to us, to real people.  (One way or another.)  Our humanity is complex; it’s full of strife and heartache.  We fall and find opportunities for grace and redemption.  (Or don’t.)  We find our way together.  

Being awake is T Carlyle’s prerequisite for voting.  (Sleepers don’t get a say.)  In America, the sweaty loudmouth, privileged enough to believe he speaks for everyone, who pounds on the table in Black Cat Burrito, our local burrito place, to assert that “lazy poor people” should “stop complaining and get a job” between mouthfuls of food gets a say.  We carry his ignorance and self-love/ loathing (as if our own wasn’t heavy enough…).  I come up the steps into the apartment, boil water for coffee, and watch newsreel of a Tea Party mob crying out for us to let the uninsured poor die: Yahoo News.

*Note: I’m assuming that the uninsured poor also stand in for any number of other scapegoats that the Tea Party mob might be able to point to. I’m fallen. I have fallen again and again... I’m sure that I’m on this list alongside my mother who is good enough to mail me her inhaler because, even though I have health insurance this year (for the first time in many years), I still can’t afford the medicine I need to treat my asthma. I’m sure that many of the people I love are on this list.  “Let [them] die.”  CHEERS.

In America, we are haunted by the emptiness of our own rhetoric and by a terrible misreading of our place in the grand scheme of things (unreadable to us).  We are haunted by the zeal of the Religious Right and by fanatics who write God on every brick that they throw through our living room windows.  We are haunted by our own ignorance and we continue to pay attention to (empower) people who want us to stay that way. We are haunted by a cheap and amazingly narrow reading of J Edwards’ terrifying Great Awakening sermon “Sinners at the Hand of an Angry God” (that I’m sure haunts many of our scapegoats too):

O sinner!  Consider the fearful danger you are in: ’tis a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in Hell: you hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.

That’s one awful sentence.  We puppet a terrifying Old Testament God of wrath that the first generation Puritans drafted to scare us into submission by rattling the chain and holding ourselves over the pit.   God is waiting, displeased.  His patience is wearing.  He’s going to drop us into the lake of fire if the crowd doesn’t devour us first.  Best to serve someone else up instead.  (Melville’s Bartleby: “I would prefer not to.”)  Edwards’ sermon makes us crawl down the aisles on our hands and knees begging for forgiveness.  Sound familiar?  America sings for the rich and for the God who holds us over the pit.

Here’s the problem: Edwards’ “Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God” sermon isn’t a continuation of the old Puritan rhetoric.  It’s not really a sermon about incorporation.  On the contrary, it actually marks the beginning of a splintering departure from the power structure of his day that still undercuts the entire Right Wing Conservative “Gospel of Wealth [Self]” narrative because it recasts God in the mysterious fire of original Calvinism.  Breaking the safety of the contract (“Covenant of Grace”) that the first generation Puritans imagined bound God to behave in ways justified to human conduct, Edwards caused pandemonium for milk toast third generation Puritans by restoring God to incomprehensible, overwhelming activity (P Miller Errand into the Wilderness).  The upheaval of Edwards’ teachings posed an immediate threat to the church because they called the privilege and necessity of church leadership into question by offering parishioners a jarring reminder that their relationship God was fraught and dynamic—an unmediated psychological experience that is always, finally, a matter of individual conscience (“Tyger, tyger, burning bright”). God was (is) a mechanism of control.  Wake up.  God is not a mob.  (Never was.)  God is a visionary proposal.  We go there alone.  And, in America, we are alone together.  Each is responsible for their soul.  This is exactly the realization that allows the loathsome Sherburn to diffuse the mob that wants to lynch him to satisfy their own bloodlust in Twain’s Huck Finn: “The pitifulest thing out is a mob…they don’t fight with courage that’s born in them, but courage that’s borrowed from their mass…a mob without any man at the head of it, is beneath pitifulness.” Disgusted by the town folk’s cruelty, Huck goes to the circus instead.

Calling for “sleepers” (a term he draws from Carlyle) to wake up in Walden and elsewhere, Thoreau attempts to rewrite Manifest Destiny as a spiritual endeavor into wilderness that out speeds empire.  He calls us to a wider perspective that costs the same uncertainly.  (Read Cape Cod if you don’t believe me…)  We risk everything.  We risk stability, contamination, disintegration and assimilation.  We risk being trampled by the crowd en masse.  We risk being responsible for ourselves.  DH Lawrence: “My soul is a dark forest.”  We risk Young Goodman Brown’s spiritual collapse: “My Faith is gone!” We go there alone.

Translating Confucius in a guerilla cage at Pisa at wit’s end, E Pound turns inward to face a dark forest: “like an arrow, and under bad government/ like an arrow/ Missing the bull’s eye seeks the cause in himself.”

Thoreau: “In Wildness is the Preservation of the World.”  (Read: the world; not ours.)  Wildness destabilizes our agency.  It destabilizes our institutions and our rhetoric and allows them to evolve.

All else is delusion (sleeper). 

Just yesterday, my dear friend Ely texted me that he had a dream that we were all living in the same neighborhood again.  Our houses were unfinished.  Our dogs were playing in the grass.

G Welch: “I dream a highway back to you.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(Music is) instantaneous and unpredictable.
—J Cage, Themes & Variations
The story is current.
—HD Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers
The unwritten music of Boursier-Mougenot’s drifting chimes is haunting and resonant while I drive in to W Jefferson to the dump, for gas, to the ABC and grocery store through mountain farmland, dumbstruck by the grace of animals afield—by their casual explorations, by their music, by their delight in each others’ company and in eating, by their beautiful unmade patterns, by the way they huddle together for warmth on cold days in front of dirty white factories and by the way they draft off from each other in the wind.
K and I have lived adrift for most of the past year. We have been uneasy and lonely. We have been poor, despairing, disappointed by job opportunities and unstable living situations, hungry for contact. We struggle with insecurities and anxiety that stem from bruised egos and a lack of faith, tethered to hopes and expectations that hamper our ability to be present, despite the fact that we are surrounded by cows, horses, goats, and bison that all instinctually know how to be organized by the fields that they step into. Boursier-Mougenot’s “Variations” continues to serve as a startlingly reminder that we waste precious time worrying as music (always), finally, composes itself. In this sense, it refreshes our attention to something we already know—namely, that relinquishing authorial agency is a central, spiritual, prerequisite to our daily poetic practices. C Olson: “from the moment he ventures into FIELD COMPOSITION—put himself in the open—he can go by no track other than the one the poem under hand declares, for itself. Thus he has to behave, and be, instant by instant, aware of some several forces just now beginning to be examined” (“Projective Verse”). Boursier-Mougenot’s attention to water as a medium also awakens us to the fact that all music is essentially stray (to our ears) and improvisational—the result of all of the energy that is present in a given field: currents, collision, jets, drift, textures and patterns, etc.
We have been reading P Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart back and forth before bed at night, in attempt to be mindful of this dissonance we feel between what we know (instinct) and the nagging doubts that plague us. Chodron believes that suffering is born of our addiction to our “narrow perspective[s]”: “All anxiety, all dissatisfaction, all the reasons for hoping that our experience could be different are rooted in our fear of death.” Like Olson, she also locates relinquishment as the root of process: “we practice to liberate ourselves from a burden—the burden of a narrow perspective caused by craving, aggression, ignorance, and fear. We’re burdened by the people with whom we live, by ongoing daily situations, and most of all by our own personalities” (120). Thank god that the indeterminacy of writing and daily experience teach us to die (gracefully or ungracefully) by carrying us across the threshold into activity. Susan Howe says all of this with exhilarating clarity and force in My Emily Dickinson: “Liberated from agency, each lyric ‘I’ dies into action.” A mottled white bull and two black cows quietly eat in the shade of maples at the edge of Carter Miller Road and another black cow begins to cross the field towards them—chimes. What happens next is something else. Ever a man of action, HD Thoureau sees the constellation emerging: “Music is the sound of the circulation in nature’s veins” (Journals).
In Todd, NC, where we live, people still celebrate a rich culture that associates wakefulness with being immersed in the activity of a current; they swim, float with coolers of beer buoyed to their rafts, kayak, canoe, fly fish, and put their lawn chairs out into the river to cool off all summer—they are occasionally still baptized (“born again”) in the river (better still, the New River, the second oldest river in the world).
I feel a real connection with the pulse of river-life. As Thoreau asserts in A Week, roads make impositions on the landscape, they reflect our intentions (“narrow perspective”); they carry us to places of business. River-life is a humbling, collaborative process that honors “higher laws” because it requires us to move through the landscape with the current. When we see the blurred reflection of catalpas and arrowhead in current, we see them as they truly are: dynamic. When we see the blurred reflection of our own faces, we see ourselves as we truly are.
The hope (faith) of river-life is that we find we are organized by a much wider realization of presence. Thoreau: “These motions everywhere in nature must surely [be] the circulations of God” (Journals). In the expansiveness of summer, on the other side of a harrowing year, we are learning to be at home in the possibilities of new circumstances. Plenty is underway. A pitchy melody begins to surface through static, crickets, and rhododendron near the compost while a hornet sews violets through the deck rail. My father cuts the engine and we drift under the bridge a hundred times. We are immersed in music that’s like no music I’ve ever heard before. (J Cage in Themes & Variations: “Music = no music.)
Cage’s talk on “Silence”:
Health (“sanity”) is a process of cultivating attention to life and sounds that are already underway. Radio static, commercials, and stray music drift up through the moans of cows in the morning when I walk Franklin along the unfinished road. Listening to these sounds is a process of externalization that is a restoration: ear/ hear/ here. There’s nowhere else to be. Last weekend in the bakery, I watched a tired father trying to teach his antsy five-year-old daughter how to play chess: “See that piece that looks like a horse?” Daughter: “It’s a horse.”
Excerpt of Cage performing “4:33”:
Like Thoreau says in his Journals, “Nothing in nature makes noise.”

Sunday, April 24, 2011


At an edge where winter is perforated by rhododendron and wild apple blossoms, my grandmother, Catherine Marion Hauke, is ashes. We went back to MI to visit my family for spring break at the beginning of March and ended up spending most of our vacation at my grandmother’s bedside, saying goodbye. We were with her in the hospital late Thursday night and she died in the middle of a snowstorm early Friday morning while my Aunt Lorel was sitting with her. I touched her hair to say that I loved her before we left on Thursday and again Friday morning before the coroner came while my grandfather sat in shock, holding her hand under the blanket.

My grandmother was eighty-nine years old. She spent most of her last week in the hospital. The obituary that my Aunt Wendy wrote for her said that she died surrounded by friends and family. (She did.) It said that she loved to play cards. (She did.) She also had dementia and a bad knee. She picked out her own urn at Pier One Imports for twenty dollars (“a deal”) and she saw her dead brothers waiting for her outside the window of her room. When my father was looking through files for my grandmother’s birth certificate, he found that she had three different social security cards. We also realized that my grandmother “officially” reversed her first and middle names when she married my grandfather: Marion Catherine became Catherine Marion.

What I want to say is that we live at edges. And, as WC Williams asserts in Spring and All, “Love waits at the edge of the petal.” Edges are sources of tremendous transformative potential. Edges are where we give way to Carlyle and Emerson’s “Not Me.” Writers and readers meet at edges where writing gives way to reading. We come to rest in the activity of the Beloved at edges. R Blaser says this better than anyone else I know when he says, “Companions are/ horizons” (The Holy Forest). My great uncles, who I remember shooting skeets at a farm in Stockbridge, MI, twenty years ago are at the window in a snowstorm. (Memory feels like an old television sliding between channels…)

A little more than a month later, it’s flowers outside. I’m reading C Darwin with students this week because I want to end our poetry class by talking about poems as fossils. Darwin’s writings unsettle the possibility of closure because they posit that fossils provide a record of nature underway

The crust of the earth with its embedded remains must not be looked at as a well-filled museum by, but as a poor collection made at hazard and at rare intervals. The accumulation of each great fossiliferous formation will be recognized as having depended on an unusual concurrence of favourable circumstances, and the blank intervals between successive stages as having been of vast duration. (The Origin of the Species)

Fossils show us that our circumstances are unstable and evolving. They evidence a deconstruction that collapses oppositions (the distance between here and there) by calling to what HD Thoreau refers to as our “savage names” in “Walking.” Darwin: “Would any two workmen ever hit on so beautiful, so simple and yet so artificial a contrivance? It cannot be thought so—the one hand has surely worked throughout the universe” (The Voyage of The Beagle). Fossils make way for a vision of nature that is harrowing and incomprehensibly beautiful.

Loss shatters us and our language fails because, like Donald Revell says in Invisible Green, “The outside is unprecedented, and poetry has no word for it.” Our fossils are “a poor collection” and this is a promise because the edges that lay us to waste are, finally, restorations that give witness to the next place. (Blaser elsewhere in The Holy Forest: “God moves to the end of our sentences.”) The morning my grandmother died, my mother, a devout Baptist, cried and tried to reassure everyone, saying, “She’s not here anymore.” Even though years of conversation lead me to imagine that my mother and I register her statement in very different ways, it’s actually true. She’s gone. (It doesn’t escape me that I’m writing this at Easter. I know the tomb is empty.) Standing in my grandmother’s hospital room, I also felt how important it was to acknowledge her body (form) as a fossil before it went to the crematorium. I love the life that had been there. And, even though, I would have been glad for more time together, I’m also glad to let her go because I know that being is dispersal—a process of becoming. Elegy and ecstasy destabilize each other. Nature overtakes us and, doing so, it restores us to primary process. GM Hopkins: “The world is filled with the grandeur of God/ it will flame out” [my emphasis] (“God’s Grandeur”).

We heat our house with a woodstove and burned drafts of old poems this winter to stay warm. We used them to start the fire and keep it going. Yesterday, I scattered the ashes from our woodstove in the garden where K is planting kale, chard, lettuce(s), onions, and bok choy. Do you know JC Moore’s hymn “Never Grow Old”? We used to sing it in church when I was a kid and now I’ve got a gorgeous Johnny Cash recording of it: Never grow old, never grow old,/In a land where we’ll never grow old. When I open my eyes, our house is surrounded by fog. I open my eyes again and it’s green leaves; spring already feels like summer.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I now first began to inhabit my house, I may say, when I began to use it for warmth as well as shelter.

—HD Thoreau

The house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.

—G Bachelard

He who walks with his house on his head is heaven.

—C Olson

For Kirsten and Emilie

Settling into our new house up on the ridge in Todd, NC this week, unpacking boxes, walking the dog over to see deer tracks in the Daniel Boone cemetery, carrying in firewood, learning new students’ names, and driving down slippery mountain roads in the snow, I am thinking about HD Thoreau’s house warming at Walden. The buzz of living close to the bone in his cabin allows Thoreau to dream of a house “larger and more populous” than most of the houses he sees in Concord. Dedicated to eternity, Thoreau’s dream house stands in “a golden age, of enduring materials.” It is expansive and open to others; it allows more of the world into it, and it goes to the world.

Thoreau’s initial descriptions also stress practicality and simplicity in a way that calls to the writing of Walden. His house is “without gingerbread work,” it “consists of only one room, a vast, rude, substantial, primitive hall, without ceiling plastering, with bare rafters and purlins supporting a sort of lower heaven over one’s head, —useful to keep off rain and snow; where the king and queen post stand out to receive your homage, when you have done reverence to the prostrate Saturn of an older dynasty on stepping over the sill; a cavernous house, wherein you must reach up a torch upon a pole to see the roof.” In contact with the elements, this house honors the old gods by restoring its inhabitants to the activity of nature. Even the seeming ambiguity of Thoreau’s use of the word some is a clarity as it blurs the distinction between the human-world and the world at large: “Some may live in the fire-place, some in the recess of a window, and some on settles, some at one end of the hall, some at another, and some aloft on rafters with the spiders, if they choose.”

Honoring the old gods, Thoreau commits himself to ancient hospitality traditions. One of his primary desires is that his house is capable of providing rest to “the weary traveler” during storms. It shelters the way poems shelter; it provides a brief respite to travel just as Walden provides rest because it leaves a fossil of Thoreau’s time at Walden Pond, marking the experience of a life that continues. (Remember that Thoreau’s introduction to Walden in “Economy” states in explicit terms that he is not there anymore: “I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.”) The word shelter also doubles, becoming an exposure as the house shelters by revealing the frayed edge where domesticity gives way to the experience of wilderness. Asserting that the only way into the house is to “[open] the outside door,” Thoreau identifies his home with an ecstatic realization of outside space. Doing so, he recognizes wildness in the doorway that ends “the ceremony” of routine by awakening inhabitants from the dull wood into an expansive precision where “everything hangs upon its peg” according to its own nature.

In heaven, the work is eternity (which is no work). The bifurcation between now and then melts into a measureless present where Thoreau dedicates life to the cultivation of attention. His house answers the present without giving thought to what exists outside the moment (after). It “[contains] all the essentials of a house, and nothing for house-keeping.” (It is a process like “Old Marlborough Road,” not a product: “Nobody repairs it,/ For nobody wears it;/ It is a living way.”)

As shelter promises rest and makes way for exposure, good housekeeping gives itself away. Walden, Thoreau’s dream house, doesn’t hide anything. (“You can see all the treasures of the house at one view.”) All of the inhabitants are presented to guests upon arrival. Everything in the field is luminous, including traces of the circumstances in which Walden was composed, and Thoreau counts himself one among the other objects. His home is generous as a poem can be: “[its] inside is as open and manifest as a bird’s nest, and you cannot go in at the front door and out at the back without seeing some of its inhabitants; where to be a guest is to be presented with the freedom of the house, and not to be carefully excluded from seven eighths of it, shut up in a particular cell, and told to make yourself at home there, —in solitary confinement.” Opening his door to guests and readers alike, Thoreau welcomes them into the most vital parts of the house. He relinquishes privilege to divorce authorship from authority, warning that the dangerous implications of agency “poison” the possibility of true companionship: “Nowadays the host does not admit you to his hearth, but has got the mason to build one for yourself somewhere in his alley, and hospitality is the art of keeping you at the greatest distance. There is as much secrecy about the cooking as if he had a design to poison you.” Thoreau knows that the buoyancy and warmth of guests charges the creative process of homemaking (“worlding”) anew. He also knows that readers, in turn, write the afterlife of Walden.

When Thoreau closes his discussion of his dream house in “House-warming,” he puns, linking parlor to parlaver in order to critique empty or profane talk. He dismisses metaphors, techniques, and “artistry” that unnecessarily complicate our houses (“slides and dumb-waiters”) by keeping guests and readers at a distance from the reality of the places where we eat and work: “It would seem as if the very language of our parlors would lose all its nerve and degenerate into parlaver wholly, our lives pass at such remoteness from its symbols, and its metaphors and tropes are necessarily so far fetched, through slides and dumb-waiters, as it were; in other words, the parlor is so far from the kitchen and workshop. The dinner even is only the parable of a dinner, commonly.” Focusing on craft, etc., we orient ourselves to representations rather than activity. We get the “parable of dinner,” and I want the real thing. I’m hungry.

What’s for lunch? Atlas Sound while wind carves drifts down the ridge from our house where snow glitters in the sun like tinsel. Finches fall down from branches like leaves, and a little woodpecker hammers a new tree at the window.

I want that for a sandwich.