outwait outrun outwit


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04.26.06, wednesday noon

How to produce knowledge at this time, this place, with all the time I have between stints of paid labor, with all the physical and emotional space this place has to offer? That is, not a precise and managable knowledge of names and dates and biographies but knowledge as a transformative power which is generated by a conscious, even conscientious excavation of the sounds and sights and memories of the landscape. How to tap into this knowledge, as well as my own memories, recalled by some faint yet ever-reverberating echo?

A proposed methodology, then: Stretch, eat a breakfast of muesli with soy milk or yogurt, unplug the tv, put on hiking boots, and pack binoculars, a notebook, a thermos of lentil soup, apples, and sliced brown bread.

Walk in solitude. Eschew the path that takes the least amount of effort. Or walk a path you haven't previously taken. Look for paths overgrown with grass, paths that have been forgotten for quicker, easier ways. Listen to every birdcall--where is it coming from? Who is making the call? Why is it being called? Listen to the wind in the trees, wonder why it comes, what it will do to the landscape, what other forces in the world have come together to propel this wind, as afterthought or accident. Observe the trees--the shape of their leaves, the colors and textures of their bark, the myriad ways the branches bend and stretch out from the trunk. Pick or photograph flowers to later identify as natives, marauders, or a benign hitchhiker ferried by swallow's wing. Search for ruins (that inadequate term for what is just very, very old), such as disused farmhouses, deserted villages, and ancient holy wells. Note the tiny ferns and flowers growing between the stones. Read the runes on the lichenous gravestones.

If there's a mountain in the way, don't go around it as if it was an obstacle. Climb it. Stop at the peak for lunch. Look: at the mountains, the cloud patterns, the ripple patterns in the bay, the pastures dotted with sheep and cattle, the towns you imagine bustling with lorry-rumble, cat-cries, and conversations between old farmers in tweed caps and charcoal suits with worn elbows. Smell the new grass, the scent off the sun-warmed limestone, the drying cowpies.

If you are so inclined, write. Or not at all. Converse with your past. Consider the history of the country you have found yourself in, a place you'd never thought you'd come to, but all the same, you did, and that every thing in the world--every seed, every flower, every drop of water--was once a migrant, in constant movement, uncaring of its outcome, and despite this movement, this outcome, that thing found its place, that place humans sometimes call home.


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