Annie Dillard: I Mean to Change His Life

One day I’ll get back to writing. Until then, here is a nice passage from Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a book I highly recommend for both clarity of expression and depth of thought.

“I have often noticed that these things, which obsess me, neither bother nor impress other people even slightly.  I am horribly apt to approach some innocent at a gathering and, like the ancient mariner, fix him with a wild, glitt’ring eye and say, ‘Do you know that in the head of the caterpillar of the ordinary goat moth there are two hundred twenty-eight separate muscles?’ The poor wretch flees. I am not making chatter; I mean to change his life.” 

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Annie Dillard: Our Original Intent

(Photo: Three of my boys, fishing and looking)

I am no scientist. I explore the neighborhood. An infant who has just learned to hold his head up has a frank and forthright way of gazing about him in bewilderment. He hasn’t the faintest clue where he is, and he aims to learn. In a couple of years, what he will have learned instead is how to fake it; he’ll have the cocksure air of a squatter who has come to feel he owns the place. Some unwonted, taught pride diverts us from our original intent, which is to explore the neighborhood, view the landscape, to discover at least where it is that we have been so startlingly set down, if we can’t learn why.

— Annie Dillard, from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek