Once upon a time, there was a strange farmer of Erehwon. He gathered his curiosities, his precious things–momentary objects that held his attention and delight–and hoped others might wander down his lonesome road and share his fascination with the ordinary.
They came at random, sometimes rather sizable crowds of them, and a few exclaimed and were delighted, and some returned often and regularly. Some where changed by having seen up close the myriad works of nature and light, of clouds, of storms and seasons that the farmer set before them.
He laid these things out expectantly-mere things, some onlookers imagined–but each was a story, and each story was a memory and a meaning to the foolish man.
And so, over the years, when fewer came, and then none, it was not the same of a morning. He still wandered among his amazements but he did not often gather them, and of those, he almost never laid them out for others to see. For there were so few that he felt alone, and his stories and meanings for him only. Life was good, but it was diminished, because he still remembered the gifts he once gave, so appreciated and approved, once upon a time. He thought of the friends he had made, whose names he could barely now remember.
And yet, now and then even today, some pattern in tree bark or glint off moving waters or bird call or memory of the smell of earth will urge him to lay out his boards again along the creek road. And has done so this morning.
He had come upon a wonderful village of threaded webs, separate but close, isolated but connected by the thinnest of dew-beaded tightropes. In the wet grass, as he so often did, he imagined. He saw in these tattered webs tight aggregates of neurons, each synapsing cluster a concept, a siloed understanding, an aggregate idea or realization. He so often searched for those almost invisible threads that, discovered, would make him shout AHA! in the thrill of creative connection.
It was the possibility of sharing creative connection between disparate things on his roadside bench that woke him up each morning, expectant and hopeful of the alchemy of object and language, searching among his curios to find what he called the “so what” in everyday things like spider webs and blossoms and one more picture of a familiar light-and-shadow turn of his road or creek.
And so life goes on, the buzz of conversation barely audible to him in some distant tavern in an altogether different kind of stopping place for travelers along the loud and hurried webs of surface travel and talk.
Winter is coming. It is the time for the old farmer to draw the curtains on the chaos and confusion beyond Middle Earth and to go back over all his klediments and commonplace jottings and scraps of wonder, revisiting like old friends the emulsions of light and memory he has stored and saved, stories unspoken.
He lives on. And with what is left of his bones and his wits, he will weave what he might from the webs of wonder his eyes and his ears and his heart have laid out for him, even so, on his slow road. And we shall see what lies around the bend.
Strange Farmer of Erewhon— a blogger’s Allegory from the early years of Fragments (original version 2005.)