When I was a child I loved to eat Reese’s Pieces. I found them surprising because they had a bizarre texture in your mouth. They were soft, the feeling in your mouth was soft unlike m&m’s where the feeling was hard, but the reward of chocolate wasn’t there so the inside of my mouth focused more on the sugar coating. Have you ever thought about what a difference there is between Reese’s Pieces and Chocolate M&M’s? It is like the difference between hydrogen and helium. You sort of forget about elemental particles especially when they both begin with an ‘H’ but it turns out there really are differences between elemental particles and only one of them really does the trick. Well that is a bad analogy but I guess it is true from a subjective perspective which is probably the struggle humanity has been trying to resolve for about 10,800 years, trying to dig itself out of the hole of feeling like the hole is the center of the universe, although we are beginning to find out that it sort of is the place where all the laws of physics break down into reese’s pieces and at the center is a unification of chocolate and sugar coating.

I remember visiting the Fiery Gizzard this fall with my friend Michael, he picked up a leaf from a magnolia tree and stretched it out across his chest to show how big it was, how it stretched out across the length of his torso and smiling, his grey speckled hair standing up as he smiled. I posted the photo on facebook and someone wrote that they were confused at first because it looked like he was wearing a lizard suit. A very humorous remark I must admit. A lizard suit! I love it when something so completely ordinary like a photo can take on another layer of meaning on social media where it can get circulated and reframed in ways I never would have imagined. Love it or hate it, the internet is god. It has enabled communication in a way we intuitively crave and over time it will be a tool of positive change. It is controlled by corporations right now, yes, but as time continues it will become as ubiquitous as paper.

Walking along the river with Michael was a magical experience. I love the Fiery Gizzard it has an amazing life to it that I can never fully explain. I remember the time I went there with a two friends who took off their clothes and laid in sun near the creek. There is just something about the naked human body and the river. The stone, the water, the life. The water is mysterious and magical it is life giving but it is more than just the water, it is something about light. The light and the way it reflects in the water. I have enjoyed so much water since I moved to the west coast ten years ago and the thing I always see is the light on the surface of the water, the way the light bounces and moves and the way it reflects. One of my favorite views is from high above Manzanita on the Oregon Coast or coming up the front side of Cape Foulweather looking down from a dizzying height. What you will notice on a sunny afternoon is the light. You can imagine the scene. I think it has some basic evolutionary response, it is sort of like having an orgasm or eating some really good chocolate or having a friend just give you a great gift or doing something that feels really good to do. That is what it feels like to be sitting up there at a dizzying height looking at the sun reflecting on the ocean, like a mirror for giants.

I love walking the creek following its channel in my dreams and in my daytime plans I have imagined following the fiery gizzard from the hemlock tree to the washout bridge each step enveloped by the warmth and softness of the stone and the moss just like the trail I rise to heights far above the water looking down I see small rays of sunshine poking through the forest Penetrating the surface giving light to the shale bottom Soft lime stone and clay. The rocky canyon walls form crazy quilt geometric patterns of stacked brick stacked lime stone layers upon layers eons old. In my oceanography class I learned that the Shallow sea bed that once covered Tennessee was precipitated by a cataclysmic rise of the earth surface that resulted in the Appalachian mountains being formed. The collision of Europe and North America created a mountain range higher than the Alps, perhaps one of the highest mountain ranges ever in earth’s history. Since then it has been all downhill, literally and figuratively. Today the Fiery Gizzard is what remains, its beauty a direct consequence of age, full of all the love and pressure time can give her, wearing away all the unnecessary parts, until all that is left is radiance and magic, ferns and moss, tree elfs and magnolia leaves, waterfalls and hemlock trees.

We don’t deserve this life, this existence. We are a direct consequence of absolutely nothing and there isn’t a thing we can do to explain or understand our position in history. It really doesn’t help to try to understand it through the perspective of faith and it doesn’t really help the cause to pretend it is not real. There have been so many variations on civilization over time that our own incredibly diverse expressions of social relations itself lays the foundation for our incredible diversity. Really if anything we deserve the diversity and incredibly widespread expressiveness our bodies and social roles allow us to play. I particularly feel like I don’t deserve this life I have. I live in the most beautiful part of the country, full of oceans and volcanoes and deserts, rivers, streams and rainforests, the land here is alive and breathing, it is on the edge of constant erosion but something about the world makes sense intuitively.

When I think about how to write I don’t really know where to start. Do you start with an atom, how do you describe an atom? How do you write about the world with language, the physical world? Maybe the ancients had the right idea by starting with pictures, on the other hand we have created this abstraction of images which allows us to create a portable mode of conveying meaning, but there is something about that portability and abstraction of pictures that dilutes its essence. in the first millenium bce there was a longstanding jewish community on the nile called elephantine. scrolls from that community have been discovered over time which have proven invaluable in looking at property transactions and life in the ancient near middle east. i was looking at some of the graphics of the elephantine egyptian hieroglyphics that existed around the time of the jewish community there and then i went back and looked at much older hieroglyphics forms. then i watched a video about the discovery of the cave art at Chauvet in southern france. then i remembered the story of the akedah and how wooden the story feels, how the text seems to be missing descriptors that we think of now as intuitive. suddenly i had a very different view both on hieroglyphics and pictographs and began to put together an idea of how our relationship with language has evolved over time. it made me wonder if the wooden quality of the story of the akedah and other parts of torah, as compared with other parts of torah reflect a changing shifting relationship with language. my guess is that as language shifted from hieroglyph and pictograph to abstraction as it did in most languages there was something essential that was assumed to be understood in the images, that the images filled in so many essential details that were simply inferred as part of the experience of understanding, and that as language became more portable it lost some of its spaciousness which now had to be filled in with more detail from an abstracted language. when i look specifically at the akedah versus the joseph narrative i can really feel that.

Still it doesn’t resolve how to write about the world. Where do you even begin to write? As we come to know more and more about the world it seems like it is getting bigger and bigger. I was reading this morning that astronomers are beginning to discover the oldest threads of matter in the universe, they are massive 50 million light year long chains of matter that have even less particle density than the vacuum of space in our solar system but they are still observable and they help move scientists toward a more basic understanding of why the universe is the way it is. The basic theory is that the universe was almost entirely uniform but there were small variations in the initials conditions of the universe that led to slight variances in the distribution of energy and matter in the expansion of the universe after the big bang that led to clumping of matter in strings and later into galaxies. So that slight variance, that slight folding back of the universe itself is possibly responsible for the universe as we see it. It is not really possible to say this in pictures although almost all of the language used is pictographic.

As a child of a dyslexic parent and as the partner of a dyslexic partner I understand the way in which pictures really are language. As the adopted sister of a super genius literary person who consumes language by ‘seeing’ whole pages at a time I can understand the complicated relationship of language to pictures and how difficult it is to really understand how we see words, as well as the role words play in how we see and understand the world — time, space and the specifics of our experience of the world.

the sunshine is free for everyone
how do you use language to describe molecules?
you can’t even see molecules but lets give it a try
try describing space and time.
do you think there is a machine that is even capable of it?
obviously there isn’t it but there are objective laws of nature right

so let’s start with those objective laws of nature
everything in our mind is just a proscenium.
we assume that the entire world out there is working because it is working
but we don’t really know what all that space in the universe is for
we don’t really know what nature is for

i realized the other day that women are really gods,
we really worship women becuae they give birth
on the other hand giving birth is just a body function
it is one of those thing that the bodies do
does that mean i am a misogynist
a transgender misogynist feminist
anarchism is so passe right?
calll me all of those

what does our existence mean
it is a challenge to deal with so much that was ever piled on.
you have the key to understanding that almost no one has
how do we come to the place where we find the meaning of that intimacy.
now fill in the blanks and then sort through all of your memories
see how many days going back you can find the thread.

end

Anna Thompson is a writer, artist and cat lover who lives in Portland Oregon with her partner and six cats. She loves writing about sex, gender and religion.

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