Who among us hasn’t noticed it—the strange doubling of forms and faces—the echo in the world? The waves in rock, the veins in leaves, the ghostly flowerings of frost. As though God, deep in his labors, had suddenly run out of ideas, or, perhaps, surprised by the loneliness of his creation, had set out, in the eleventh hour, to stitch the world together—the sound of wind to the sound of water, the ruffling of field to the ruffling of fur, the memories of the living to the hopes of the dead. A familiar universe. A sea of small recognitions. A vast brotherhood of thoughts and things. That is what he dreamed.
It was too late. It didn’t work. We misread intention as accident, correspondence as coincidence. Only rarely, wandering through this world, did we feel that someone was trying to tell us something.
– Mark Slouka, Lost Lake
I think there's a kind of desperate hope... that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world. One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there's still time.
– W. S. Merwin
We don’t look at the natural world directly anymore, not much. Most often we see it at some remove. A vista point, a park, a trail. An arrangement. A diorama.
Even nature photography has tropes and conventions that hold us at a distance. What’s more banal than a close-up of a flower? Or a long shot of a herd crossing a plain, side-lit by the rising sun?
Technology offers ever more sophisticated simulacra of what we’re losing. Now you can buy a radio-controlled animatronic penguin (with real feathers). Resin-cast elephants stepping into unfamiliar terrain may be the only kind our children’s children will have.
If there even is such a thing as wilderness now, maybe it’s in places that escape our notice. Undersea, at night. The inside of a leaf.
A review once described my work as “fleshy and tender.” That’s more or less what I’m after.
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