Tag Archives: snow

selections from Of Walking in Ice by Werner Herzog

Our Eisner mustn’t die, she will not die, I won’t permit it. She is not dying now because she isn’t dying. Not now, no, she is not allowed to. My steps are firm. And now the earth trembles. When I move, a buffalo moves. When I rest, a mountain reposes. She wouldn’t dare! She mustn’t. She won’t. When I’m in Paris she will be alive. She must not die. Later, perhaps, when we allow it. Continue reading

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Taja dressed for Tahoe

IMG_7044 Continue reading

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Arrival at Elmira

in which the Hero goes to Oregon! Continue reading

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God tea, guitar beats, and girls’ tits

i just picked up a booklet at the store: the store is the Sonlight Surf Shop in Pacifica and i just dropped by as they were closing to inquire about all the things i need to know as a beginning … Continue reading

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These are the music and pictures of the most ancient religion. [archive]

that’s a Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation extracted from underneath a collection of words written by John Muir on how “All the World Seems a Church”:

This I may say is the first time I have been at church in California, led here at last, every door graciously opened for the poor lonely worshipper. In our best times everything turns into religion, all the world seems a church and the mountains altars.

i’ve often felt this exact thing. open the religious text of your choosing to any page and marvel at the astounding quantity of ALLs and EVERYTHINGs and ONEs that human beings have lassoed into one small section for the purpose of representing the omnipresence and pervasiveness of God. would the world be different if everybody followed in Muir’s footsteps and bowed in Nature’s Temple, instead of at the Temple of Athena/God/Hubbard?

You are going on a strange journey this time, my friend. I don’t envy you. You’ll have a hard time keeping your heart light and simple in the midst of this crowd of madmen. Instead of the music of the wind among the spruce-tops and the tinkling of the waterfalls, your ears will be filled with the oaths and groans of these poor, deluded, self-burdened people. Keep close to Nature’s heart, yourself; and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean from the earth-stains of this sordid, gold-seeking crowd in God’s pure air. It will help you in your efforts to bring to these people something better than gold. Don’t lose your freedom and your love of the Earth as God made it.

i don’t think i’ve lost my freedom or my love of the Earth. in fact, i think every year my freedom doubles and my love triples. check up on me in a year, if you’d like. at the phrase “better than gold,” my already well-trained ears of CA poetry ring like buzzers, but i don’t want to rush to class to share my revelation. i want to run north, to the mountains, never to be found again:

Although I was four years at the University, I did not take the regular course of studies, but instead picked out what I thought would be most useful to me, particularly chemistry, which opened a new world, and mathematics and physics, a little Greek and Latin, botany and geology. I was far from satisfied with what I had learned, and should have stayed longer. Anyhow I wandered away on a glorious botanical and geological excursion, which has lasted nearly fifty years and is not yet completed, always happy and free, poor and rich, without thought of a diploma or of making a name, urged on and on through endless, inspiring, Godful beauty.

But I was only leaving one University for another, the Wisconsin University for the University of the Wilderness.

can i do the same? could i do the same? what are the costs? i am no knave when it comes to shopping for an education to not see that every institution has its costs. will the Wilderness accept me? where will i live? how will i live? will i make new friends? how long is a term? does poetry exist in nature?

No Sierra landscape that I have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what in manufactories is called rubbish or waste; everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons. This quick, inevitable interest attaching to everything seems marvelous until the hand of God becomes visible; then it seems reasonable that what interests God may well interest us. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. One fancies a heart like our own must be beating in every crystal and cell, and we feel like stopping to speak to the plants and animals as friendly fellow mountaineers. Nature as a poet, an enthusiastic workingman, becomes more and more visible the farther and higher we go; for the mountains are fountains–beginning places, however related to sources beyond mortal ken.

perhaps my question might be better restated as “can poetry exist outside of nature?” we, it, one. how can we write about that which exists outside of nature when we, it, live within it, through it, by it, with it, and for it. it is why we are we. as time goes on and i see my blank page with space increase, i realize the futility of my own words and wonder at the quaking confidence in the language of this famous mountain man.

At half-past two o’clock of a moonlit morning in March, I was awakened by a tremendous earthquake, and though I had never before enjoyed a storm of this sort, the strange thrilling motion could not be mistaken, and I ran out of my cabin, both glad and frightened, shouting, “A noble earthquake!” . . . as if Nature were wrecking her Yosemite temple, and getting ready to build a still better one.

[To calm one visitor’s fears] I said, “Come, cheer up; smile a little and clap your hands, now that kind Mother Earth is trotting us on her knee to amuse us and make us good.” In this work of beauty, every boulder is prepared and measured and put in its place more thoughtfully than are the stones of temples. If for a moment you are inclined to regard these taluses as mere draggled, chaotic dumps, climb to the top of one of them, and run down without any haggling, puttering hesitation, boldly jumping from boulder to boulder with even speed. You will then find your feet playing a tune, and quickly discover the music and poetry of these magnificent rock piles–a fine lesson; and all Nature’s wildness tells the same story–the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent uprush or sap in plants, storms of every sort–each and all are the orderly beauty-making love-beats of Nature’s heart.

take that, Haiti.

oh, but i’m only kidding. that’s not at all what Muir meant. he means that only natural disasters in natural places, like Yosemite, are beautiful. in human places, like San Francisco and Haiti, they are tragedies. in Yosemite, Nature places her boulders more carefully than a skilled chess player places his queen. in Haiti, Nature just wasn’t paying attention. she had been idly waiting to go to lunch with her best friend, Time, when her elbow had slipped off the table, irritating her funny bone to immeasurable ends; in her squealing and cursing, 150,000 people dove into the soil, eyes gagged, ears blinded.

It seems strange that visitors to Yosemite should be so little influenced by its novel grandeur, as if their eyes were bandaged and their ears stopped. Most of those I saw yesterday were looking down as if wholly unconscious of anything going on about them, while the sublime rocks were trembling with the tones of the mighty chanting congregation of waters gathered from all the mountains round about, making music that might draw angels out of heaven. Yet respectable-looking, even wise-looking people were fixing bits of worms on bent pieces of wire to catch trout. Sport they called it. Should church-goers try to pass the time fishing in baptismal fonts while dull sermons were being preached, the so-called sport might not be so bad; but to play in the Yosemite temple, seeking pleasure in the pain of the fishes struggling for their lives, while God is preaching the sublimest water and stone sermons!

did somebody say sublime? words associated with the sublime: grandeur, unconscious, anything, sublime, rocks, trembling, tones, mighty, chanting, congregation, waters, mountains, music, angels, heaven, worms, trout, fonts, sermons, Yosemite, temple, pleasure, pain, struggling, lives, God, sublimest, water, stone, sermons. words not associated with the sublime:. words: Bouree, Handel, Jeanne, Lamon, Music, for, the, Royal, Fireworks, 7, 1749. word: n., a sound, usually one with a semantic association. semantics: the study of the study. study: the lack of sheer silence.

When the avalanche started I threw myself on my back and spread my arms to try to keep from sinking. Fortunately, though the grade of the canyon is very steep, it is not interrupted by precipices large enough to cause outbounding or free plunging. On no part of the rush was I buried. I was only moderately embedded on the surface or at times a little below it, and covered with a veil of back-streaming dust particles; and as the whole mass beneath and about me joined in the flight there was no friction, though I was tossed here and there and lurched from side to side. When the avalanche swedged and came to rest I found myself on top of the crumpled pile without a bruise or scar. This was a fine experience . . . This flight in what might be called a milky way of snow-stars was the most spiritual and exhilarating of all the modes of motion I have ever experienced. Elijah’s flight in a chariot of fire could hardly have been more gloriously exciting.

“[And after the wind, the avalanche, the earthquake, the fire] a sound of sheer silence.” ~Elijah Continue reading

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