Sunday, June 26, 2011

Substances of Writing or Flowers Upon Flowers

I think that most writers have certain quirks, obsessions, when it comes to the materials that they write with.  I sometimes think that my love of feathers has to do with their connection to pens.  The origins of writing.  I wrote a long essay on the subject of ink and paper and whatnot when I was in grad school.  I had imagined that one day I would expand that into a book, but other projects have become more important.

A week or more ago our Hawthorn tree lost a branch and we thought it was too lovely to just throw into the trash so it adorned the ledge in our hallway for awhile.  This morning I was browsing through the book by Elaine Scarry titled Dreaming by the Book and came across this:

"To make ink," begins one of Theophilus' medieval recipes, "cut for yourself some wood of the hawthorn - in April or May before they produce blossom or leaves."  Paper, like ink, comes from vegetation."  

She goes on to name all the types of vegetation, and then says,

"Because the practice of writing is, then, a laying down of flowers upon flowers, it may be regarded as an exteriorization of what the imagining mind does and of what it was doing long before it invented this external form of itself."  

I'd taken the photos below and had been unsatisfied with them - they seemed like so many other photos I've taken recently.  (Only so many places to to take a photo in one's house, I suppose). Somehow thinking about the laying down of flowers upon flowers redeems them for me.

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