Walden Once More: Week 5, Day 1

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

The first sparrow of spring! The year beginning with younger hope than ever! The faint silvery warblings heard over the partially bare and moist fields from the bluebird, the song sparrow, and the red-wing, as if the last flakes of winter tinkled as they fell! –Henry David Thoreau

Can it be? Can spring have arrived already?

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

Winter fled so long ago–yet where did it go? What do we mean when we say winter has fled? It is only that our plane of orientation has shifted and we now face the sun more directly.

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

The words “I” and “me” have dropped away–these words are now a mere convenience, used to refer to the bundle of coding that sits in the bundle labeled “chair” and writes on the bundle labeled “computer” to produce the bundle that is labeled “book” which will be sold through the bundle labeled “mailbox” in order to bring in the bundle of data labeled “Simoleans” which are entered into something that is labeled “My Household Account!”

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

The absurdity slays the bundle that is “me” and this sound–like a million sparrows warbling–emerges!

What is “laughter” when “I” am no longer?

Suppose I had no words.

Suppose that “I” had no “words.”

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

Suppose that “you” when you performed the action called “reading” were simply and directly connected to this flicker of thought, consciousness, within me. And that was all that transpired.

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

My hands feel good when they are in the dirt.

This is a symbol: my hands in the dirt.

For there is no “dirt”–only animation of brown soil. Only coding that lowers my hygiene.

Yet watch me work in the dirt and observe what happens within you.

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

What do you feel beneath your fingernails? Do you smell the mossy scent of wet soil? I have tasted soil compacted on a carrot, the crunch of gravel beneath my molars. When you watch me harvest these digital carrots, do you remember the crunch of the gravel, do you taste the silver-flavor of soil?

It is all symbol–spring, sparrow, swallow, carrot, soil, “me”.

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

Did my great, great granduncle reach the place where symbol was clearly seen?

He lived in symbol.

The earth spoke to him through the great symbol of ice bank, soil, creek, river.

What is form but a symbol?

Look at this bundle of coding and animation and art called “me.”

Look. Really see. See “me.” What am “I”?

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

A symbol–a symbol for you to look at and try to understand. What do I represent?

Yet. What is a symbol? It is our striving for meaning.

Stop. There is no need for meaning.

Spring is not about meaning–nor symbol. Spring is about the dove’s nest in the eaves, the crack of frost on an April morning, a solitary ranunculus in the meadow.

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

Stop seeking meaning.

Strip away the words. Look at what is there. See both the form and that which lies beneath the form.

When faced with the hysteria that is spring, my great, great granduncle wrote, “What at such a time are histories, chronologies, traditions, and all written revelations?”

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

His words–he wrote for he could not help but write. Yet did he write of that which mattered most to him? His adoration of Margaret Fuller? His brave pledge in his heart to be the savior of the lost and hopeless? His fury at the betrayal of those who were his champions before the ardor of his beliefs informed his every action?

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

We have our words with which we clothe those “truths” we feel we can share with others–or with ourselves. For that is what words are–the speakable, whether it is to ourselves or to others that we speak these “truths.”

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

And beneath those, like the groundwater that runs far beneath the bedrock on which my little house is built–there unseen runs that which cannot be contained by words–and that, escaping all label, all attempt at communication–that is where what is more than truth runs wild, unspeakable.

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

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