XERXES



 


That's not me.  (I'm over here.)  It's Xerxes in her best Sunday dress.
This week she has been reading Martin Buber's I and Thou.
 
 
She also read his sad little book of autobiographical sketches,
 Meetings, as well as his insightful The Way of Man.
Here is a passage she enjoyed from I and Thou:
 
 

I contemplate a tree.

 

I can accept it as a picture: a rigid pillar in a flood of light, or splashes of green

traversed by the gentleness of the blue silver ground.

 

I can feel it as movement: the flowing veins around the sturdy, striving core,

the sucking of the roots, the breathing of the leaves, the infinite commerce with

earth and air--and the growing itself in its darkness.

 

I can assign it to a species and observe it as an instance,

with an eye to its construction and its way of life.

 

I can overcome its uniqueness and form so rigorously

that I recognize it only as an expression of the law--those laws according to which

a constant opposition of forces is continually adjusted,

or those laws according to which the elements mix and separate.

 

I can dissolve it into a number, into a pure relation

between numbers, and eternalize it.

 

Throughout all of this the tree remains my object

and has its place and its time span, its kind and condition.

 

But it can also happen, if will and grace are joined,

that as I contemplate the tree I am drawn into a relation,

and the tree ceases to be an It. The power of exclusiveness has seized me.

 

This does not require me to forego any of the modes of contemplation.

There is nothing that I must not see in order to see, and there is no knowledge

that I must forget. Rather is everything, picture and movement, species and instance,

law and number included and inseparably fused.

 

Whatever belongs to the tree is included: its form and its mechanics,

its colors and its chemistry, its conversation with the elements

and its conversation with the stars--all this in its entirety.

 

The tree is no impression, no play of my imagination, no aspect of a mood;

it confronts me bodily and has to deal with me as I must deal with it--only differently.

 

One should not try to dilute the meaning of the relation: relation is reciprocity.

 

Does the tree then have consciousness, similar to our own?

I have no experience of that. But thinking that you have brought this off

in your own case, must you again divide the indivisible?

What I encounter is neither the soul of a tree nor a dryad, but the tree itself.

 

 

 

***

 
Any comments you might have for Xerxes
can be sent to Hud[dot]Hudson[at]wwu[dot]edu.
I will see to it that she receives them.

***
 

Xerxes' First Year
 

Last week Xerxes was reading Allan Chinen's Once Upon a Midlife
The week before Xerxes was reading G.K. Chesterton's St Francis of Assisi
The week before Xerxes was reading Jean Toomer's Cane
The week before Xerxes was reading Ikhwān al-Safā's The Animals' Lawsuit against Humanity
The week before Xerxes was reading Patrick Süskind’s Perfume
The week before Xerxes was reading Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark
The week before Xerxes was reading John Milton's Paradise Regained
The week before Xerxes was reading Dylan Thomas's The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower
The week before Xerxes was reading Stephen Crane's The Blue Hotel
The week before Xerxes was reading Gore Vidal's Creation
The week before Xerxes was reading A.S. Byatt's Possession
The week before Xerxes was reading C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce
The week before Xerxes was reading Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven
 The week before Xerxes was reading Dennis Potter's Blackeyes
The week before Xerxes was reading David Suzuki and Wayne Grady's Tree: A Life Story
The week before Xerxes was reading James Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner
The week before Xerxes was reading Alexander Theroux's Theroux Metaphrastes
The week before Xerxes was reading Mervyn Peake's Titus Alone
The week before Xerxes was reading Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast
The week before Xerxes was reading Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan
The week before Xerxes was reading Walter de la Mare's The Three Royal Monkeys
The week before Xerxes was reading John Collier's His Monkey Wife
The week before Xerxes was reading Lois Lowry's The Giver
The week before Xerxes was reading Rudyard Kipling's Mandalay
The week before Xerxes was reading Ralph Helfer's Modoc
The week before Xerxes was reading Stuart McLean's Home From the Vinyl Cafe
 The week before Xerxes was reading Ossie Davis's Purlie Victorious
The week before Xerxes was reading George MacDonald's The Portent
The week before Xerxes was reading Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead
The week before Xerxes was reading Michael Phillips's George MacDonald - A Biography
The week before Xerxes was reading Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel
The week before Xerxes was reading Gordon Lightfoot's Minstrel of the Dawn
The week before Xerxes was reading Sun Tzu's The Art of War
The week before Xerxes was reading Robert Graves's I Claudius
The week before Xerxes was reading Philip Ardagh's A House Called Awful End
 The week before Xerxes was reading John Milton's Paradise Lost
 The week before Xerxes was reading Mervyn Peake's Mr Pye
The week before Xerxes was reading J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The week before Xerxes was reading Riff Raff and Magenta's The Time Warp
 The week before Xerxes was reading William Shakespeare's Timon of Athens
 The week before Xerxes was reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion
The week before Xerxes was reading e.e. cummings's anyone lived in a pretty how town
The week before Xerxes was reading Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici
The week before Xerxes was reading C.S. Lewis's A Preface to Paradise Lost
The week before Xerxes was reading Stephanie Plowman's The Road to Sardis
The week before Xerxes was reading Alexander Theroux's Darconville's Cat
The week before Xerxes was reading Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective
The week before Xerxes was reading T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
The week before Xerxes was reading Matthew Scully's Dominion
The week before Xerxes was reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray
The week before Xerxes was reading the Prologue in Heaven from Goethe's Faust
The week before Xerxes was reading Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market