Quothing the Raven by Patricia Karamesines

Photo of common raven courtesy of National Park Service
Photo of common raven courtesy of National Park Service

This post is an excerpt from my unpublished book, Crossfire Canyon and the Landscape of Language. I published a shorter version of the chapter in 2007 on the blog Times and Seasons. I’ve added material and developed my thinking about the intersection  of narrative and truth, posing questions about what our responsibility may be when we tell a story that deeply affects people–especially when the story isn’t strictly true, but people who read or hear it feel that it must be.

Winston Hurst
Archaeologist Winston Hurst

Early in the summer of 2007 I visited Blanding resident Winston Hurst, a longtime friend from my archeological field school days back in the 80s. Winston is an esteemed archeologist in the Southwest and a man of science. We were discussing Craig Childs, who was coming to Blanding’s Edge of the Cedars State Park to promote his book. I had met Craig in the 90s at a writing workshop he’d led in Torrey, Utah. The first time I read Craig’s work—it was The Secret Knowledge of Water—I  thought, Here is a writer I can learn from. I’d taken the risk to travel to the workshop, even though leaving the household whose atmosphere depended on the state of my special needs daughter Teah and on the whims of toddler Val left husband Mark with his hands full.

The experience proved well worth the risks to my household’s teetering domestic balance. Craig told our little group—all women—that it was his first workshop. At one point we met in the wonderful stone house, still a work in progress, of a local resident. To make memorable his point that we should all carry writing journals when we’re out traipsing, Craig set a pile of his own journals in the middle of the floor and told us to each choose one and find a quiet place to read it. I happened to pick the one that contained dialogue that would later appear in his book, The Way Out: A True Story of Ruin and Survival.  The dialogue occurred between Childs and his river guide friend, Dirk Vaughn, who used to be a cop. It involved Dirk’s statement that he’d killed a man. Continue reading Quothing the Raven by Patricia Karamesines

STAND WITH BEARS EARS: RDT’s New Concert Dance Inspired by the New National Monument & the Tribal Coalition That Helped Make It Happen

Erosion, by Zvi Gotheiner
Erosion, by Zvi Gotheiner

By David Pace

Earlier this year Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) and Utah Diné Bikéyah (UDB) sat across from each other trying to figure out if together they could offer to be some kind of steadying order to the growing imbroglio of the recently announced Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah. What does concert dance have to do with preserving federal lands considered sacred by Native Americans?

It turns out quite a lot. At the meeting Navajo (Diné) representatives from the tribal coalition that had midwifed the Monument, including Willie Grey Eyes, Jonah Yellowman, and Mary Benally, related how to them the Bear Ears not only represented the sacred lands of 5 tribes, but also the healing between those tribes after hundreds of years of mutual suspicion and mistrust. Whatever artistic work issued from our collaboration would be motivated by the notion of how the land, and in this case the preservation of the land, can heal divisions. Continue reading STAND WITH BEARS EARS: RDT’s New Concert Dance Inspired by the New National Monument & the Tribal Coalition That Helped Make It Happen

WIZ Spring haiku chain, 2017

2017 April 2 peach blossoms

April is the poetry month, coaxing

Odes out of the fund-cut land, upraising

Free verse and sonnet, arousing

A metered pulse despite uncivil chill.

Winter moils to hold fast, stifling

Voice by imperious squalls, periling

Spring’s sprung verse with rime-crust.

Continue reading WIZ Spring haiku chain, 2017

Review: Arrival 2016

2017 Arrival Poster*Spoilers Alert*

First off, I’d like any film that nudges viewers toward thinking about language and its effects on events, the environment, and relationships past, present, and future. Arrival’s got “events” and “relationships” covered, and, by extension, “environment”, so I like it. *SOAP BOX ALERT*  Lackadaisical attitudes toward language are common. Many folks don’t think about language much at all, despite how, when threatened, they quickly move to weaponize it when they feel threatened. Moreover, since a meaningful percentage of the population gets its information from movies and other media rather than peer-reviewed scholarly articles on language and linguistics, I’m good with casting language in a leading role in a semi-popular film. *END SOAP BOX BLURB*

We also have funny ideas about language, including that it impedes real communication. Charles Taylor discusses one angle of such thinking in The Language Animal, the theory that, ideally, language should just name things in the world with constraints on usage to enable precise communication—no funny business like metaphor, symbol, etc., which some literalists believe renders discourse into Keystone Kops ineptness.

For a taste of Keystone Kops, go here.

Taylor makes a good case that this idea of language still influences beliefs about human powers of articulation (unduly, he says). Arrival may in fact put the “language as precision tool” concept to work, since very few nods to metaphor’s powers of transport occur in the movie. It would be nice if the black-and-white nature of instrumental language could have been expanded a little, but that’s probably asking too much. Many people know language mainly as a tool for getting done what they want, even as they complain about its exactness.  In blame-the-messenger fashion (including in language Global Mall Facebook), laments abound over how language fails to live up to expectations then betrays us; ergo, it’s faulty.

But to the movie. Arrival is a cryptic thing on several levels, including its

Continue reading Review: Arrival 2016

The year of the fox by Patricia Karamesines

Red Fox public domain

From July 2010 to December 2013, the two years following Mark’s stroke and brain surgery, he struggled to regain lost cognitive and physical ground. The hemorrhage occurred in the back of the right hemisphere of the cerebral cortex in an area of the brain that supports eyesight. During the stroke he lost more than half of his field of vision. On the day we figured out that something momentous had occurred and I rushed him to the hospital, he cocked his head to his left side, like a bird, to see the doctor and nurses. We caught the stroke too late so some of the vision loss became permanent. The change in his vision disturbed him most at night when the house turned foreign. Every little object on the floor or crease in a rug transformed into a confusing and dangerous obstacle. Continue reading The year of the fox by Patricia Karamesines

LONNOL 2015 winter/Valentine haiku chain

Swans Valentine

After a slow start to Wilderness Interface Zone’s Love of Nature Nature of Love Month, we’re opening our LONNOL haiku chain. It’s our hope that readers will join in this winter and post-Valentine’s Day celebration of the logic of the heart harnessed with images of nature’s splendors and subtleties.

A haiku is a classical Japanese poetical form, usually 17 syllables all in a single line in Japanese, but there are longer and shorter forms. In English, haiku often take the form of one short line of 5 syllables, a long line of 7 syllables, and a short line of 5 syllables, but there are many ways–all versions are welcome here.

There’s no deadline for this activity and the only requirement is that you focus your feeling in a nature-oriented haiku. You can link your haiku to an image in a preceding one or simply forge a link out of new images altogether.  The chain runs as long as participants carry it along.

Traditionally considered a mindfulness practice, writing haiku brings perception and language together in a splash of imagery and aperçu. Can you distill you deepest feelings and sheerest insights to 17 syllables? Give it a go.

Here is my opening LONNOL haiku:

From plot twists in sea,
shore, savanna, city, this
departure, this love.

Call for submissions: WIZ’s 2015 LONNOL Celebration

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Love of Nature Nature of Love Month–it’s on!

Valentine’s Day is over, but the good ship LONNOL is still available for booking. Perhaps you yet have tokens of affection you would like to ship out. If they have even the slightest touch of nature about them, we’re longing to publish them. Please search your files for poems, short fiction, short essays, mp3s of readings of your work or of other work that’s in public domain, your original artwork, etc. and share them with us and our readership. Less than two weeks remains in February, but if need requires, we will keep things afloat through March.

Along with submissions from our readers, we’ll have a fond feelings haiku chain, to be initiated soon.

Also, February 24th is WIZ’s birthday. We’ll be five years old. To celebrate, we’ll be offering one or more of WIZ’s old movie giveaways. Giving our readers presents on our birthday is something we really enjoy doing. To “win” an old movie, all you’ll have to do is read each movie’s review and comment in the comment section. WIZ will contact you with further instructions about how to receive your free DVD.

In the Northeast, winter has been ridiculous harsh and relentless. Here in the Four Corners region, we seem to be trembling on the brink of an early spring. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. Full steam ahead.

Review: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes

Cover of Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

As I mentioned in my Facebook posts about the book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (published in 1976) is a wild ride, not at all for everyone. It could especially prove problematic for those espousing religious belief. Or, indeed, belief in the veracity of science. Or in any kind of certainty at all. Furthermore, at times, Origin goes speculative to what for some will be intolerable degrees, and Jaynes’s writing style can turn florid and irritating. I was in it for the idea that the human brain and the consciousness it houses have changed radically since early periods of civilization, an idea that bravely contradicts common belief that human consciousness bloomed suddenly full-flowered upon early man. Continue reading Review: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes

Waxing, Waning by Enoch Thompson

800px-Ocean_waves_foam by Jon Sullivan

Waves,

curving, beautiful,

ocean cloudy,

yet when you imagine them

they shine the clearest ideal blue.

Salt on your tongue and in your eye

reminds you there is no escape

from grit, from the salty sand ashore,

there can be only less or more.

It’s enough to make you contemplate

a seaweed’s fate or fish’s story

seen from it’s ugly marble eyes,

how the ocean shallows

shift distant horizons

into whole alien

worlds

beyond, behind.

You contemplate waves,

take mental snapshots, recall

precise amounts of sand stirring

at the shuffle of your foot, floating

to the top of the wave like white pepper

in a scratched kitchen glass. You are

limited, terribly limited at counting

grains of sand upon the shore.

Only god has time for that, so

just enjoy the screams of

pleasure, fun, perhaps

a little hidden, silent

panic as the

waves crash

down.

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To read Enoch’s bio and more of his poetry published on WIZ, go here.

Photo by Jon Sullivan

On how fragile life might be by Enoch Thompson

car dash board at night

We hit something
she said “a raccoon?”
I said, “opossum.”
I said, “turn around,
let’s turn around.”
and there it was lying in the street
a silhouette of sharp snout and feet
orange on grey on black, the colors fade.
A cat, we hit a cat.
So this is death, bulging, leaking red eyes
protruding from its crushed and swollen head.
She, distraught
me, disturbed
so this is death.
I’ve been punished
now to forever drive
slow
and hold a breathe
at every shadow
flashing
across the road.

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Enoch Thompson 2014Enoch Thompson is an aspiring poet and storyteller.  A grave robber, a pirate, a wizard, an ugly shambling skeleton, he trudges the paths eighteen million other better men have skipped down.  Always, as new words become published and new voices shout to be heard, his anxieties grow.  He is a modern-day writer and encapsulates all of the insecurities society has placed on the cliched profession.

To see more poetry on WIZ by Enoch, click here.

Providing grounds for the greening of human language