Walden dialogue

Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito’s wing that falls on the rails.

As deliberately as a locomotive.
Who laid the track?

Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry – determined to make a day of it.

Let the day be determined deliberately.

Why should we knock under and go with the stream? Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows. Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the way is down hill.

Let us not be crowded.
Let us be downset and underwhelmed.

With unrelaxed nerves, with morning vigor, sail by it, looking another way, tied to the mast like Ulysses. If the engine whistles, let it whistle till it is hoarse for its pains. If the bell rings, why should we run? We will consider what kind of music they are like.

Stranger music.

Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d’appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely, or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time.

[point d’appui: ‘point of support’]

Will the lamp-post appear to future ages?
Will they know how to read the Realometer?
Will they get the point?
Will they find their own foundation?
What if reality rocks the bedrock?

If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimeter [=scimitar], and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business.

— Thoreau, Walden, Chapter 2

Busy, busy, busy. Deliberately.

(since in this scherzarade of one’s thousand one nightinesses that sword of Secondness which would identifide the body never falls)

Chapter One, part one

On Wednesday, October 19, 2016, the first discussion group for Turning Signs met on Manitoulin Island for a conversation about the first chapter of the book. At this session in person were Heather Thoma, Patricia Mader, Veronika Bingaman, Pam Jackson, Emily Weber and the author. Paul Salanki was connected by Skype, but could only listen in, as the connection was limited to one-way audio, probably because of the satellite hookup he had to use. We’ll continue to experiment with remote links to these Wednesday-night groups.

In the meantime, anybody who’s now reading the book (either on screen or on paper) is welcome to post here any ideas inspired by (or commenting on) the first chapter. Click on “Leave a comment” at the bottom of this post. As a weekly reminder to check back on what others have said here, you could also subscribe to the our newsletter.

Klein bottleOne of the subjects that came in for some discussion this week was the overall structure of Turning Signs, with its Obverse and Reverse sides. Chapter One says that it ‘resembles a Klein bottle,’ but that may need some explanation. Fortunately i discovered a YouTube video that takes you on a visual trip through a Klein Bottle, which is probably the best way of seeing how it’s related to the metaphorical shape of the book. There’s also another YouTube video featuring Klein bottles that might be more helpful for developing your topological imagination (which is a great thing to develop, as it can take you into higher dimensions). I recommend both of them just for topological fun, if nothing else!

Now we’re all reading Chapter Two to get ready for next Wednesday night’s gathering and next Saturday’s blog post. If you’re reading this, you’re welcome to join the conversation!

Coming soon: the course and the paperbook!

08d2 Due to popular demand, i’m offering a series of seminars where readers of Turning Signs can get together in small groups to share their questions, comments and responses to it. Read all about it on the new seminar page. The first session is slated for October 13.

And by even more popular demand, i’m getting some paperback copies printed. They will cost $20 (plus shipping if necessary). Email me (or comment on this post) if you want one. It should be available in a few weeks.