Dog Magic

dog+magic

When I palm the tennis ball a new dog is confounded. I whisk the ball into a crook of the elbow and challenge the dog to find it. He lolls his tongue and shifts his eyes in a show of uncertainty. An inexperienced dog is baffled by sleight of hand. (Sleight: the use of dexterity or cunning, especially so as to deceive. A useful word.)

Mercy, the one-eyed pirate, grew up sitting through my tricks applauding with a thump from the tip of her tail. She knows them all now. She studied on the sleights. She knows a ball does not simply disappear, it is concealed somewhere nearby. New feints and magic ruses are met with skepticism. She trusts her nose, not her eyes.

Writing slowly, writing by hand. I type a fierce 90 words per minute, but what use is the page? Layers of bubble wrap is all it is; there may or may not be something valuable wrapped inside.

Common writing craft advice is “just write.” There is a post today on Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog advocating exactly this approach. It compares forcing out a first draft to purging after a night of binge drinking: write a draft, vomit words onto the page, go back later, edit, revise, rewrite. I understand. Some days I agree. Often trash sentences are better than freezing, better than no words at all. However, once words take up residence on the page that space is claimed by squatters. The mind settles on the done-ness of things, whether the work reads or not. We are easily misdirected. It’s dog magic.

 

Lines – Rubaiyat

XXVII 
Myself when young did eagerly frequent 
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument 
About it and about: but evermore 
Came out by the same door where in I went.

XXVIII 
With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow, 
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow; 
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d– 
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

–Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Contemplation

heron_waitingWind and water, waiting in silence, contemplation and observance, a great blue heron watches.

From the Legge translation of I Ching Hexagram 20:

The Chinese character from which this hexagram is named is used in the sense of both seeing and being seen. The theme is the sovereign and his people — how he shows himself to them, and how they in turn perceive him…In the Judgment the ruler is portrayed as a worshipper at the commencement of a sacrifice. He is the great Manifester.”

k.