Monday, April 13, 2009

Book Recommendation - This Mortal Coil

Sunday's are the biggest reading day of the week. Annie Dillard's book, Teaching a Stone to Talk is one of my favorites to pickup and thumb-through the underlined passages when I'm not in the mood to tackle a new text. The insite and quiet-moment adventure is classic Dillard.

After first reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek on assignment in college, I've since been a big fan. Dillard's pilgrim was like spending a summer in Walnut Grove - lazy warm afternoon days of exploration and watching the clouds
drift by.

Teaching a Stone to Talk, however, is more like being part of a group of alien abductees - all of us feeling sore, unnerved, and in shock, trying to sort out what has just happened to us in a group theripy session. it is fantastic. The world isn't the same after piecing together her cutting accounts of what she has seen.
I can see more influence of Decker's "The Denial of Death" in Mrs. Dillard's writing... but she has more sense of 'who' and 'how' than Decker did. He only saw the 'what'. The reader is left to sort out the 'why'.

"The mind wants to live forever, or to learn a very good reason why not. the mind wants the world to return its love, or its awareness; the mind wants to know all the world, and all eternity, and God. The mind's sidekick, however, will settle for two eggs over easy. The dear, stupid body is as easily satisfied as a spaniel. And, incredibly, the simple spaniel can lure the brawling mind to its dish. It is everlastingly funny that the prowd, metaphysically ambitious, clamoring mind will hush if you give it an egg. Further: while the mind reels in deep space, while the mind grieves or fears or exults, the workaday senses, in ignorance or idiocy, like so many computer terminals printing out market prices while the world blows up, still transcribe their little data
and transmit them to the warehouse in the skull. Later, under the tranquilizing influence of fried eggs, the mind can sort through this data. The restaurant was a halfway house, a decompression chamber."

Another great insite by Dillard for our day is her statement: "You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it."

This book is a great chance to sit out in the cold dark of night, and begin looking at the stars...

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