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Rewrite of 2nd Site Evaluation and Nan's Seal

hirakismail's picture


As I was looking out at the pond again, I had in mind Gary Snyder's suggestions, to see the wild, the unspoken parts of nature. To concentrate on the grit and the hunger and the survival rather than the peaceful. This was really hard still, but the closest I got was to notice the continuous ripples in the pond. They came very often, and I remember hearing somewhere that if there was a ripple, that meant something in the pond had just been hunted or eaten. Thinking about this, I saw the ripples differently, and started wondering what exactly was going on under those waters. There was a sports game going on to my right (probably soccer judging by the sound the ball was making, I didn't actually go and check to confirm) and the players were cheering on eachother loudly, and in general communicating with eachother about maneuvers in the game. I wondered then vaguely, if they were under water, how their loud voices might make the sound ripple. Then that lead me to imagine the organisms in the water. Were they also 'shouting,' 'yelling,'did they make enough noise to make the water ripple? What did it sound like under there. I took this pic of the water ripples, and also a video, but I couldn't manage to post the video, as the software wasn't compatible :(


Bohm and Snyder:

Walking to pond looking, thinking Gary Snyder, seeing wild unspeaking nature. Concentrating on gritting, hungering, surviving. Rippling in pond, the water. Meaning what? Something hunting eating? Thinking, viewing rippling differing. Sporting to the right, soccer balling? Cheering playing loudly, communicating, maneuvering. Wondering under water sporting, how loud? Rippling any? Imagining organisms gathering, ‘shouting,’ ‘yelling,’ creating rippling? Sounding how? Picturing rippling but no movie making :(


(I think I might have been doing a little bit of both Goatly and Bohm; the rewrite became more about the pond and the verbs were everywhere, and I attempted some of Goatly's nominalization by not making it as clear what the nouns performing the actions were. Like "rippling" is up for interpretation, what exactly is rippling at what time is unclear. I also felt like I was writing poetry, especially the line "Rippling in pond, the water." In poetry writing, it is often encouraged to make such inversions on the ways we usually speak, so switching the verb to the beginning makes a big difference, for example.)

I'd now like to comment on Nan's rewrite of her story about Honesty, the baby seal. Her original really emphasizes the gaze between the mother and baby seal on the rock, how they were literally looking each other in the eye. In her rewrite, that detailed exchange is reduced to "One glowing eye." I read the detailed one first, then the rewrite, so I was affected differently. I felt that the interpretation of this one phrase could be taken in various ways. The two seals were staring at eachother so focused and in tune with each other, that it was as if they were one, thence the "One glowing eye?" Nan manages to bring the feel, the tone, the mood of the longer piece through this rewrite, but the actual seals are not mentioned at all in the first paragraph. It isn't until you get to the second paragraph that the seals are named. I find this VERY similar to poetry, and therefore I was very much pulled in. The waves action of pulling Honesty under the ocean is made vague in the rewrite: Footprint of the sky. Crash and thunder of waves, rising and swinging, seeking the soft underbreath of the waiting world.

Her rewrite achieves what we discussed earlier, the necessity of returning and revisiting works of writing in order to better understand the 'signifieds.' And what Nan does in the second paragraph is even more exciting, she focuses on the bloody, very violent case of a seal's birth:

"Tails lift. Red bulging, writhing. Balloon of wriggling bloody seal birth. Seal pup hungers its way out, biting its placenta.  Cannibalistic. Sea gulls squawk. Greedy midwives peck and pull the afterbirth in sharp beaks. Tear it to bite-sized pieces."

Here diction like "tear," "greedy," "cannibalistic," "writhing," "bulging," "bloody" really creates a scenario of the type that Snyder wants nature writers to focus on. It speaks very frankly of the bloody and almost violent circumstances of a seal birth. There is no shying away from the details, in either the original or the rewrite.

I would like to ask Nan to briefly discuss "Womechorus/ Womechorate Mode." It is very intriguing and reminds me of the Vagina Monologues in a way; one of the monologues was about the narrator's presence at the birth of her granddaughter. That account also does not shy away from details, is very bold and frank and honest. I'd like to know more about this mode, about using the "gruesome" or "uncomfortable" or even "gory" to somehow create awareness, appreciation, and even awe of 'nature,' in this case the circumstance of a birth. What effects does this mode have? What is it's purpose and what ends does it possibly achieve?



Nan's picture

I am imagining that

I am imagining that womvichorate is a birthing, alive and dying mode, fluid, and still changing.  As you can see, the way it was named a few hours ago is already gone.  You are right.  I intend for it to have a sort of edgy awe, its own glowing eye-- mine, yours, ours-- looking in, looking out, seeing, and daring to speak what we see.  I would like to know what might happen in a world-wide community of women, listening to each other, heart-centered, open-eyed, and speaking, even through fear, but still speaking from that place.

I like very much how you describe your observation about the ripples -- how, if there is a ripple, this (may?) mean that something in a pond has just been hunted or eaten.  You allow your focus to shift to what you cannot see, but can only interpret from its effects.  Most of the natural world lives beyond the periphery of our vision.  We can become more interested in what we can see in front of our eyes, as well as in extending our insight towards other fields of understanding or awareness, as you suggest.