Friday, March 5, 2010

Tinker Creek Redux

Having finished Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, my enthusiasm has ebbed significantly. Initially, I found the book enthralling for its simultaneous emphasis on the ecstasy and intricacy of the natural world. By capturing minute natural occurrences and massive natural upheavals, she creates a sense of the sublime by rendering the natural world as something beyond not just rational apprehension, but stable meaning all together. The boldness of this concept captured me quickly at the outset. Moreover, her idea of the reinvention of sight by undoing what we see in objects and living things and attempting to look on them in a purely dynamic, protean way was masterly developed.

Yet, with all of these ideas going for it, the book becomes tedious as it progresses. I could not help but simply wince at her labored meditations on muskrats and grasshoppers. God, who cares. When writing about the awful brilliance of the praying mantis female killing and eating the male during copulation, I was struck with awe. That was it. From there her ideas begin to become over-extended. The book should never have been more than a long essay. The latter third is so self-indulgent as to nearly ruin the preceding two thirds.

Ah well.

1 comment:

  1. It's true! What a good start, and then... I'd rather read Ring of Bright Water anyday. Or anything by Wendell Berry, and he's pretty ridiculous, too.