“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us,” Iris Murdoch
HHhH is a strange marvel of a book that’s difficult to fully describe. Its genius is reflecting our own process of understanding history–the names we remember and those we do not; the facts we include and those we exclude; the things we can know and the things we can never–while making the reader feel the heart stopping pressure and sadness and tragedy and cold bloodedness of violent oppression. I’d give it 5 stars if it gave me a bit more vivid description of people and places than it does. But then, I suppose, that’s part of the point the narrator makes–that to do so is to fictionalize story past the point of remaining historical.
I couldn’t put it down, though. It’s a fascinating deconstruction of the process of writing a historical novel and yet it never loses the stories of the main players. It’s unlike any novel I’ve read before. Its bold heart will stay with me.
But what we have lived
comes back to us.
We see more.
From “A Tree Telling of Orpheus” by Denise Levertov
There’s a pond just ten minutes from my office. I’ve been past it so many times without stopping. It’s on a dirt road. It’s that little bit inconvenient. And I’m busy. Heck, we’re all busy, all the time, every day it seems. My car will get dirty, I tell myself.
I took the dirt road today. I pulled over and parked and let my car get dusty. Got out and walked the shoreline. The ducks preened in the sun while turkey vultures circled prey on the far side. There’s a boat tipped over with a huge hole in the bottom. It reminded me of Grandma Alice teaching me how to catch sunfish for fish fries. Bobbers and bib overalls. Oily rainbows reflecting off sunfish scales. Grandma as giddy as me with each catch.
It’s good to get off the paved roads and pull over–good to cast lines.
Harvested the last few potatoes of the season as we hit the hot of true summer here in Southern California. I’ve been adopted by a Mourning Dove I call, in an instance of bland uncreativity, Maury.
Maury follows me around the garden as I putter. He moves to the closest tree and sings his beautiful, mournful song. Watches me dig, plant, compost.
He draws in enough air to fill his chest in order to sing his big songs. And I think, that’s it. That’s what it first takes to make things and give them openly–exaggerated intakes.