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My Story as Told by Water: Confessions,…

My Story as Told by Water: Confessions, Druidic Rants, Reflections,…

by David James Duncan

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This book was way better than I was expecting. As with many river writers I've run across, Duncan is definitely "male" in his metaphors, and if that bothers you you'll miss out on a good book. Sometimes his raving-to-the-point-people-stop-listening activist gets going, but you can skim past it. This book is a non-religiously affiliated (although aware of many religions) meditation on the tension between being a contemplative and an activist. Duncan tells stories of rivers losing, winning, and still at risk, in the fight against industrialism. He tells of the spiritual and human joy of fishing. And it just randomly gives you idea after idea to think about. Thought-provoking, meditative, at times horrifying, quite often beautiful. ( )
  JanesList | Jun 12, 2012 |
Esssays on the environment, in particular the trout streams of Montana and the Pacific Northwest. What makes this book memorable is the incandescent, extraordinarily moving prose -- the best writing I've encountered in a long time.
  wwlw | Apr 22, 2010 |
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Our eyes, it has been said, are the windows of our souls. Since the soul is not a literal object but a spiritual one, eyes cannot be the soul's literal windows. But they are, literally, openings into and out of living human beings. When our eyes are open, they become not one of our many walls but one of our very few doors. The mouth is another such door. Through it we inhale air that is not ownable, air that we share with every being on Earth. And out of our mouths we send words - our personal reshaping of that same communal air. Seeing, I have come to feel, is the same kind of process as speaking. Through our eyes we inhale light and images we cannot own - light and images shared with every being on earth. And out of our eyes we exhale a light or a darkness that is the spirit in which we perceive. This visual exhalation, this personal energizing and aiming of perception, is the eyes' speech. It is a shaping, it is something we make, as surely as words are a shaping of air. I feel responsible for my vision. My eyespeech changes the world. p 46
... as a child you eat, drink, and breathe a place in so deeply it becomes part of you for life...Anything that fills your heart the way a loved world does doesn't leave the heart ready for a quick refill. True home places are like true loves. I imagine a lucky individual could experience three or four such places. But the usual karmic dose, per lifetime, seems to be one, maybe two... a place .. is a somewhere that isn't going anywhere. So an experience of place can befall us only when we do the same. p 50
In relation to Earth's spectacular annual ticktock upon her axis, it is the so-called 'migratory' mammals and birds that travel thousands of miles north and south who maintain their true solar place, and every geological and biological form that fails to respond to Tilt - every mountain, for instance, and we who remain in them - that does the traveling. That the entire sedentary landscape migrates was never more clear to me than during my first Montana winter. p 58
I still remember Correct Answers of that era, long after having forgotten their corresponding questions: 'Coffee, bananas, hemp, cacao.' 'The Bill of Rights.' 'Be Am I Are Was Were Been.' I now refer to this kind of thing as Answerizing - an activity that stands in relationship to truly answering a question as the ability to memorize the phone book stands in relationship to the ability to love every preposterous flesh-and-blood concoction whose name the phone book happens to contain. Questions that tap into our mortality, our pain, our selfishness, our basic needs, questions that arise from the immeasurable darkness, light, or mystery of our lives, require more than Answerization. They require our suffering, steadfastness, silent yearning, and deepest faith. p 67
For all my love of rivers, "our nation's rivers" have not moved me once. The rivers that move me are those I've fished, canoed, slept beside, lived on , nearly drowned in, dreamed about, sipped tea and wine by, taught my kids to swim in, pulled a thousand fish from, fought and fought to defend. I've come to suspect, for this reason, that it is only the personal geography - the one experienced in daily depth - that can in fact be in-habited, and only the personal geography that has that Yeatsian ability to connect us, root to root, to people or places we've never met. pp 72-73
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In this remarkable collection of essays, acclaimed author David James Duncan braids his contemplative, rhapsodic, and activist voices together into a potently distinctive whole, speaking with power and urgency about the vital connections between our water-filled bodies and this water-covered planet. All twenty-two pieces in this collection swirl and eddy around his early-forged bond with the rivers of the Pacific Northwest and their endangered native salmon. With a bracing blend of story, science, and comedy, Duncan relates mystical, life-changing adventures; draws incisive portraits of the humans and wild creatures who shaped his destiny; rips the corporate greed and political folly that have brought whole ecosystems to ruin; and meditates on the spiritual and practical necessity of acknowledging our dependence on water in its primal state.… (more)

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