symbolic speech

November 14th, 2011

What my father said to me was rather different and I did not understand much except that he was very moved and glowing inside, as it were, with a sort of quivering, uneasy joy like a fire that asks only a breath of wind to cause it to burst into flame. He talked to me of sheep and the country, of grass and trees.

“Oaks,” he said. I remember that as he said that he expanded his chest and his beard began to flutter softly…

“And get some muscle. Big shoulders are useful in life, even if it is only to pull a thorn out of a hand.” And so on until at last the fire was all alight in him and I had ripened into a human being in its glow, like a great round loaf.

-from Blue Boy by Jean Giono


Fiddler Jones
by Edgar Lee Masters

THE EARTH keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill—only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle—
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.

Hosea 13:4-8

But I have been the LORD your God
ever since you came out of Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me,
no Savior except me.
I cared for you in the wilderness,
in the land of burning heat.
When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me.
So I will be like a lion to them,
like a leopard I will lurk by the path.
Like a bear robbed of her cubs,
I will attack them and rip them open;
like a lion I will devour them—
a wild animal will tear them apart.


“Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.”
-Louise Erdrich



the Hebrew book of Ecclesiastes:
everything is meaningless.


“I wanted to be loved because I was great; A big man… I’m nothing. Look at the glory around us; trees, birds. I lived in shame. I dishonored it all, and didn’t notice the glory. I’m a foolish man.”
-Mr. O’brien, from Tree of Life


Civilization tries to persuade us we are going towards something, a distant goal. We have forgotten that our only goal is to live, to live each and every day, and that if we live each and every day, our true goal is achieved.
-Jean Giono


Resisting the Domestic-Haters
by brother Andy Lewis
(as featured in In the Land of the Living, volume 5)

The primal battle against domestication is being waged at every moment, even now.
Anarchy and wildness flow through our veins, a part of us all as much as the air we breathe and the water we drink.
This spirit of wildness is systematically beaten out of us via domestication. Churches,
schools, jobs, politicians, cops, these are the institutionalized motor for domestication in our daily lives. The domesticators seek to control, manipulate and ultimately to destroy that spirit which courses through all living beings. But when we join with the wild community of all God’s good creation a kind of miracle takes place. At those moments we awaken with ears to hear and eyes to see like Jacob when he finds that wild creation is the gate of heaven.
It is in those moments that the life of quiet desperation dies. The threat of prison can
no longer control us as all creation waits patiently and anxiously for us to join in communion. At those moments we may become aware of a great cloud of witnesses gathered around urging us on to liberation.
You must always have a secret plan. Everything depends on this: it is the only question. So as not to be conquered by the conquered territory in which you lead your life, so as not to feel the horrible weight of inertia wrecking your will and bending you to the ground, so as not to spend a single night more wondering what there is to do or how to connect with your neighbors and countrymen, you must make secret plans without respite. Plan for adventure, plan for pleasure, plan for pandemonium, as you wish; but plan, lay plans constantly.
And when you come to, on the steps of the presidential palace, in the green grass beside the highway, in your cell’s gloomy solitude, your secret plan finished or foiled, ask your comrades, ask your cellmates, ask your wind, the waves, the stars, the sea, ask everything that ponders, everything that wanders, everything that sings, everything that stings ask them what time it is; and your comrades, your cellmates, the wind, the waves, the stars, the sea all will answer: “It is time for a new secret plan. So as not to be the martyred slave of routine, plan adventure, plan pleasure, plan pandemonium, as you wish; but plan, plan secretly and without respite.

One Response to “symbolic speech”

  1. James Buccelli Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I’m actually committing Sin #2 ‘Waiting too long to comment’! However, I felt compelled to express appreciation, since I think many of these you enumerate are unconscious mistakes that can easily be rectified.

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