We Want To Know

“Sometimes when we have given a piece of yam to a child we beg him to give us a little from it, not because we really want to eat it but because we want to test our child. We want to know whether he is the kind of person who will give out or whether he will clutch everything to his chest when he grows up.”

–Chinua Achebe, Arrow of God, 1967

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“Man’s own life is affected by the rhythm of waking and sleeping, hunger and satiety, work and rest. The long rhythms of agrarian pursuits were broken into minuter and more directly perceptible cycles with the development of the crafts. With the working of wood, metal, fibers, clay, the change of raw material into consummated result, through technically controlled means, is objectively manifest. In working the matter, there are the recurrent beats of patting, chipping, molding, cutting, pounding, that mark off the work into measures. But more significant were those times of preparation for war and planting, those times of celebrating victory and harvest, when movements and speech took on cadenced forms.

Thus, sooner or later, the participation of man in nature’s rhythms, a partnership much more intimate than is any observation of them for purposes of knowledge, induced him to impose rhythm on changes where they did not appear. The apportioned reed, the stretched string and taut skin rendered the measures of action conscious through song and dance. Experiences of war, of hunt, of sowing and reaping, of the death and resurrection of vegetation, of stars circling over watchful shepherds, of constant return of the inconstant moon, were undergone to be reproduced in pantomime and generated the sense of life as drama.”

-John Dewey, ART AS EXPERIENCE, 1934

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Opening the Field

 by Paul Hunter

The old farmer studies the furrows
behind him the plow has turned open
like a stiff ancient book
few bother to read any more
line by line steel fingernail tracing
with a tearing sound its slow furies

still he hears what is written
what the birds pick through settle for
with scant patience squabble over
while having eaten their fill of
what they have found sentinels
stand apart singing their signatures

yet the furrows gleam and hang
in time let fall frozen waves
that only behind his back subside
and relapse with the seasons
if not erased next morning
by his stubborn harrowing scribble

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“What strength belongs to every plant and animal in nature. The tree or the brook has no duplicity, no pretentiousness, no show. It is, with all its might and main, what it is, and makes one and the same impression and effect at all times. All the thoughts of a turtle are turtles, and of a rabbit, rabbits. But a man is broken and dissipated by the giddiness of his will; he does not throw himself into his judgments; his genius leads him one way but ’tis likely his trade or politics in quite another.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Natural History of Intellect, (1893)

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