Barry Lopez on the Cure for Our Existential Loneliness and the Three Tenets of a Full Life - Deepstash
Barry Lopez on the Cure for Our Existential Loneliness and the Three Tenets of a Full Life

Barry Lopez on the Cure for Our Existential Loneliness and the Three Tenets of a Full Life

Curated from: themarginalian.org

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BARRY LOPEZ

[W]hen an observer doesn’t immediately turn what his senses convey to him into language, into the vocabulary and syntactical framework we all employ when trying to define our experiences, there’s a much greater opportunity for minor details, which might at first seem unimportant, to remain alive in the foreground of an impression, where, later, they might deepen the meaning of an experience.

BARRY LOPEZ

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BARRY LOPEZ

The lesson to be learned here is not just […] to pay closer attention to what [is] going on around [us], if [we hope] to have a deeper understanding of the event, but to remain in a state of suspended mental analysis while observing all that is happening – resisting the urge to define or summarize. To step away from the familiar compulsion to understand.

BARRY LOPEZ

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BARRY LOPEZ

If the first lesson in learning how to see more deeply into a landscape [is] to be continuously attentive, and to stifle the urge to stand outside the event, to instead stay within the event, leaving its significance to be resolved later; the second lesson [is] to notice how often [we ask our] body to defer to the dictates of [our] mind, how [our] body’s extraordinary ability to discern textures and perfumes, to discriminate among tones and colors in the world outside itself, [is] dismissed by the rational mind.

BARRY LOPEZ

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BARRY LOPEZ

The ear hears the song of a vesper sparrow, and then hears the song again, and knows that the second time it is a different vesper sparrow singing. The mind, pleased with itself for identifying those notes as the song if a vesper sparrow, is too preoccupied with its summary to notice what the ear is still offering. The mind is making no use of the body’s ability to be discerning about sounds. And so the mind’s knowledge of the place remains superficial.

BARRY LOPEZ

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BARRY LOPEZ

Many people have written about how, generally speaking, indigenous people seem to pick up more information traversing a landscape than an outsider, someone from a culture that no longer highly values physical intimacy with a place, that regards this sort of sensitivity as a ‘primitive’ attribute, something a visitor from an ‘advanced’ culture would be comfortable believing he had actually outgrown.

BARRY LOPEZ

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BARRY LOPEZ

Existential loneliness and a sense that one’s life is inconsequential, both of which are hallmarks of modern civilizations, seem to me to derive in part from our abandoning a belief in the therapeutic dimensions of a relationship with place. A continually refreshed sense of the unplumbable complexity of patterns in the natural world, patterns that are ever present and discernible, and which incorporate the observer, undermine the feeling that one is alone in the world, or meaningless in it.

BARRY LOPEZ

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BARRY LOPEZ

The effort to know a place deeply is, ultimately, an expression of the human desire to belong, to fit somewhere […] And every natural place, to my mind, is open to being known. And somewhere in this process a person begins to sense that they themselves are becoming known, so that when they are absent from that place they know that place misses them. And this reciprocity, to know and be known, reinforces a sense that one is necessary in the world.

BARRY LOPEZ

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BARRY LOPEZ

Perhaps the first rule of everything we endeavor to do is to pay attention.

Perhaps the second is to be patient.

And perhaps a third is to be attentive to what the body knows.

BARRY LOPEZ

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IDEAS CURATED BY

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“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison

CURATOR'S NOTE

“Place and a mind may interpenetrate till the nature of both is altered.” - Nan Shepherd

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