Things Teach: An Excerpt from "Reading the Way of Things"

A thing teaches.

A tulip offers a way of standing in the world, on one’s own without being excessively stern.

Grass instructs us how to be a network of individuals.

Certain tequilas — usually blanco — have taught me the way of difference, offering multiplicity without unity while teaching that sun and leather and grass and heat can play well together in the mouth. The different tastes do not cohere into a common cause, as bourbon often does. Each flavor maintains its local integrity while nonetheless working with the others. Every sip is not only astounding. Every sip is an education.

Here’s a list of things Uni — raw sea urchin gonads — has taught me:

1. All is becoming.

2. The most discrete domains house infinite variation.

3. Limits need be neither hard nor fast.

4. Embrace ambiguity.

5. Self-possession comes through flexibility.

6. Experience is everything—life is a how, not a what.

7. The skank of life is often delicious.

8. Be discerning—a life well vetted is a life well lived.

9. Eat the world.

10. Let the world eat you.

To the keen reader, everything offers its own science, its own knowledge. A thing is a pedagogy. The world brims with different ways of going, different ways of making sense of the world, different ways of going. We don’t just heed human ways.

In fact, perhaps we need inhuman ways to teach us fundamentally different ways of going. We need the saguaro cactus to teach us to go slowly, boldly, in the sun just as we need the oak to teach us how to be majestic and generous. We need the flow of the river to teach us speed and cooperation with the land. We need clouds to learn to drift softly; cats for their relentless attentiveness; dogs for their loyalty; the wind for its vigor and swirl. Everything is a possibility. And even if we don’t go like this or that — like a cat, like a cloud, like a river — we can take pieces of these becomings, we can come to know the world more intimately, we can be stretched and folded and extended. We can learn to go, and to go interestingly, to go curiously, to go delightfully: to go well


@PierreDDN said...

Some days, Mark Chapman, the frustrated man how killed John Lennon, rules.

Imagine all the universe of possibilites that you invoke being reversed. Imagine the soul of an homeless feeling only the enjoyment of the bad alcohol that warms it. The guy, gone made, feels of the world only the heat of the day, the cold of the night and the noise of the street.

Imagine the sensibility of a lonely single who has the whole world against him: an ugly face, monomaniaque hobbies that annoys everybody, and young ladies who tease him to jocke.

even if your ideas cure. Even more it may have heal that.

Daniel Coffeen said...

But the point is to shift the terms to those of mutual becomings — that is the cure.

The Posture of Things

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