Monday, September 8
On the other hand, I checked out a copy of Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution, and I like it quite a bit better. Particularly stuff like this:
There's a deeper point to be made here, however, having to do with the specificity of everything. One of the great failings of our culture is the nearly universal belief that there can be anything universal. We as a culture take the same approach to living in Phoenix as in Seattle as in Miami, to the detriment of all of these landscapes. We believe that students can be given standard lesson plans and standard tests, to the universally applied, to the detriment of all these students. We turn living wild trees into standardized two-by-fours. We turn living fish into fish sticks. We turn living carrots into carrot sticks. But every carrot is different from every other carrot. Every fish is different from every other fish. Every tree is different from every other tree. Every student is different from every other student. Every place is different from every other place. If we are ever to remember what it is to be human beings, and if we are ever to hope to begin to live sustainably in place (which is the only way to live sustainably), we will have to remember that specificity is everything. It's the only thing we've got. In this moment, I'm not abstractly writing; I'm writing these specific words on this specific piece of paper using this specific pen, lying on this specific bed next to this specific cat. There is nothing apart from the particular. Now, I can certainly generate abstract notions of writing or humanity or cities or nature or the world, but they're not real. What is real is immediate, present, particular, specific. That's true in life. It's true in writing. And writing is as good a place as any to start.
It still strikes me that all this "bringing down (industrial) civilization" stuff is, at best, inadequate and problematic. And I'm starting to feel like there are, how do you say, non-trivial methodological concerns about this whole creative non-fiction thing. But I'll probably give Jensen another volume or two to make his case. I certainly got something out of this one.
(posted later & edited some)