This World is Not My Home
In this false lull between 'wars' (at least the CNN all-war-all-the-time type), it has been a matter of great mental health for me to focus exclusively on the smaller world around me once more... to plant seeds, take the binoculars and camera along on slow walks to nowhere, to pause to let words come in from books and out through unfettered writing in the early mornings. And yet, there is a guilty tension between living in the moment with what I can touch and see, and knowing at greater distances, my homeland is not at peace, nor is it peaceful.
Douglas Haynes, who lives in the "Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont, in this excellent piece from Orion Magazine, struggles with this tension between kingdoms... the world of nature's healing beauty, the words of the poet-- and the strident graphics and words of CNN and the kingdom they represent. Perhaps you too can feel his unrest living in these two worlds at once...
This winter, almost any randomly tuned-in moment of the news made clear the Bush Administration's determination to dominate the world. Yet when I turned the radio off, my anger was difficult to reconcile with what I saw out the window: the soft, white curves of hayfields; the mountains looking airbrushed with snow. I kept asking myself how I could be absorbed by the aesthetics of landscape when I'm governed by an executive branch hell-bent on empire. It was too easy, as Merwin's poem implies, to identify solely with nonhuman nature and disassociate myself from the nation that has always been my country:
It is too simple to turn to the sound Of frost stirring among its Stars like an animal sleep In the winter night And say I was born far from home If there is a place where this is the language may It be my country
Mr. Haynes does not resolve this conflict, but he does ask the right questions. Thanks, Cassandra Pages, for the pointer. The discussion is apropos to the larger topic of place, and will likely see further elaboration in posts soon to come from the group of place-bloggers that are forming in community. Please join us.