Of all the authors we have read in this course, I would have to say Dillard interested me most. I appreciate her well-roundedness and many references to sources or case studies I otherwise would never have found. She wove together her outlandish dreams and the most mundane events that she encountered, and presented a treatise on the magnitude of the natural world. She, like Thoreau, emphasized perception on whatever level, searching the world within herself and the world around her. Her metaphors still escape me if I’m not focused enough on reading, but stitch the anecdotes and tangents together artfully. I really enjoyed her choice of setting, having grown up in a home next to a creek, and enjoyed seeing how someone else interacts with a creek.
One passage that seems to summarize her philosophy is “I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in its beam” (35). Throughout the book she describes treks into the countryside around her, in pursuit of muskrats, or to watch a praying mantis birth its eggs. She laments that only the simplest of animals perceive the world as it actually is. Her interaction with the natural world is characterized by observation. Her realization that “everything [she has] seen is wholly gratuitous” (130) ties back to the earlier quote and to her philosophy– the world was not created by her nor necessarily for her. She has little power to shape it but can appreciate its beauty and marvel at its horrors. To this end the becomes obsessed with the more grotesque activities that go on, often unnoticed by busy human eyes, and becomes distressed with the abundance of it all. While she cannot cause light, she represents one single force or particle facing an infinite ocean of life, much of it very unlike her and very distant from her genetically. Her book is a chronicle of her journey through the world mind and through the world of the map, but despite being as raw and revealing in some parts as a confessional memoir, it doesn’t feel like it. Her book is a sort of stream of consciousness, brimming with information of all sorts.