Harold Rhenisch, Tom Thomson's Shack
I've got to read this one a few more times to get as much out of Harold Rhenisch's nonfiction work Tom Thomson's Shack as the book deserves to have gotten out of it. The blurb comment from me would be something like "Makes the definitive case that Canada needs always to remember those aspects of itself neither urban nor bucolically rural, in prose at times forcefully spare and at times ornamented with sharp, imagistic detail."
Only it'd actually get people to buy the book, rather than merely summarize my own view, because I really really want people to read it.
Some parts don't work as well for me. I've never trusted how Buddhism has been used in the West as part of an allegedly internal critique, because it seems to me to have developed externally enough that it needs translation before there can be a legitimate conversation. So the Zenny orchardworker's comments about the world being an illusion, but that we need to be either creative or destructive in our actions in order to affect karma and hence future incarnations of self, well, I get annoyed and have to restrain myself from flipping pages.
Actually I had to restrain myself more than I'd like through the first fifty or sixty pages -- I knew there was beauty and value and worth in Tom Thomson's Shack, because I saw some of it on almost every page, but I kept getting distracted. I kept tangling myself in guesses about where Rhenisch was going, whether I was going to appreciate the journey. Once I surrendered to the knowledge that the flashes would come, then the flashes came more often, and finally the light just turned on.
I sit on the shore of a high plateau lake. The grasses and naked aspens around me are white with hoarfrost. Never before have I felt the world to be so quiet, and so still. From an urban perspective, nothing is happening here, yet from a rural perspective, nothing is happening here either. We are at a crossroads. I stand in the stillness and look both ways: back to the farmers, clamouring for subsidy as the world of industrial trading defeats their efforts to leave it, and forward to the cities, where it is possible to gain the perspective to write poetry and see the land (and yet impossible to leave the city), and for the first time in years I realize again that I am tired of false choices: I am tired of tinkering; I am tired of judgement. I want a new civilization. I want it, because everything is alright. Everything that is alive is alright. We don't have to choose; we have to talk to each other about what concerns us deeply. (228)Good stuff, no?