Pilgrim At Tinker Creek Annie Dillard

My friend Michael Waram has been talking about Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek that I finally had to read it. I bought it at Christmastime, 2014. I read it in the following month, slowly, trying to digest it slowly. No rush to read such beautiful stuff.

Michael told me that Annie Dillard is relatively reclusive, as one discovers (with cause) at her website. For the sound of her voice and style, you can hear her at NPR, commenting on the 2005 tsunami.

A selection of greatest hits from the book:

  • "It ever was, and is, and shall be, ever-living Fire, in measures being kindled and in measures going out." — Heraclitus (6th century BCE Greek). He is mentioned again on p. 65. Aligns well with Robert Frost: Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire....
  • p. 9: "In the Koran, Allah asks, 'The heaven and the earth and all in between, thinkest thou I made them in jest?' It's a good question. What do we think of the created universe, spanning an unthinkable void with an unthinkable profusion of forms? Or what do we think of nothingness, those sickening reaches of time in either direction? if the giant water bug was not made in jest, was it then made in earnest? Pascal uses a nice term to describe the notion of the creator's, once having called forth the universe, turning his back to it: Deus Absconditus. Is this what we think happened?"
    • I ask this of Dillard: what do we think of a "created universe"? If we believe in evolution, then the giant water bug has simply spun into a fantastic niche….
  • p. 10: "…beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will aor sense them. The least we can do is try to be there." (on watching a Mockingbird make a four-story vertical descent and stick the landing (not knowing — or caring — perhaps that anyone was watching it!).
  • On page 14 could be our life's mantra: "…to discover at least where it is that we have been so startlingly set down, if we can't learn why."
  • p. 15: her guide to the book: "I am the arrow shaft, carved along my length by unexpected lights and gashes from the very sky, and this book is the straying trail of blood."
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