“In its best dress, philosophy wears hiking boots and carries a walking stick, wandering trails that lead into the heart of our wildernesses—both natural and cultural.” -R. Frodeman, “Philosophy in the Field.” In, Rethinking Nature: Essays in Environmental Philosophy. Bloomington IN, 2004. p.149.



Turning a corner, we’re confronted with the spirit of animals distilled into minerals
that became their being. Therianthropes who synthesized matter and myth sought
shelter in still steeper darkness. When the planet warmed again, shadows
emerged and became shamans. Thousands of years later anthropologists
could not recall the meaning of the art their ancestors made.


Gods construct in the cultural form to which we are attached; not symbolically but as
a sign of our need for intrinsic value. In this century’s climate emergency all the gods,
Olympian and otherwise, have developed structural problems, as “extreme weather
phenomena such as droughts or torrential rains have led the ancient walls (of Greek)
temples to develop structural problems.”
(1) Beauty, too, is not discrete, but develops
in the luster between objects.


The old Ch’an Masters dropped their teeth until they could only suck up noodles, or
swallow mouthfuls of unchewed rice. With no more allure they left for “the great out-
(2) Toothless, they strolled among stones that had taken a vow of silence.


About 1.5 billion years ago, eukaryotes, the first cells with DNA protected by a
membrane, appeared, and nanocellular structures we are only now able to see,
began evolving toward a species so intelligent that it “accomplishes itself
in disappearing,”
(3) At first light, where the path begins a downward quest,
I reach Old Stony Face. What I can’t see in her remains unseen in me.


The brain creates reality “characterized by the looping movement of returning to
itself in order to determine itself…”
(4) Perhaps an artificial intelligence will be able
to program itself to function in alternative realities, with anatomies that have their
failures built in.


Grading marks made on stone, and objects shaped from clay, or carved
from wood that rots away, we declared ourselves as the most intelligent
life on Earth, not knowing that every living organism contributes to Gaia’s
innate genius.


I dreamed that if I stood stock-still I’d be invisible to the malevolent force pursuing
me, like this rabbit frozen the middle of the path. As “invisibility is a state in which
we mustn’t linger or be trapped,”
(5) knowing this, Lepus californicus suddenly
races for the verge. “Stone, wherever you look, stone, / Let the grey animal in.”

Then I walked through space the rabbit had just abandoned, as if we’d both
from the same terrifying dream.


Before leaving this morning I checked the news to see if any of my old teachers
had passed away. None today.

Later, through a droopy mustache Fred Nietzsche was muttering to Old Stony
Face words my high school German didn’t understand. Seeing me, the mad
philosopher hobbled away, leaving behind what passed for a grin.


Beneath a Prussian Blue sky Paul Cézanne spread his easel’s legs, mounted a
canvas onto it, and began painting brushstrokes that embraced each other like
old lovers uniting after a long break.

Around the same time, Auguste Rodin was standing in a dense cloud of plaster
dust pontificating to a young starry-eyed poet named Rainer, “There is nothing
more beautiful than absolute trust in existence.”

More than a century later, the dark clouds of a rare summer storm rolled over
California, as though existence ends, “in both an ontological and an existential
sense with fnitude.”
(7) Still they continue to be: Cézanne, Rodin, Rilke.


If painting caves and rocks was a form of writing, this may explain
why written language developed later than mundane speech. With
this thought in mind I left the path to look for indigenous visionary
art made in California before Christian missionaries suppressed it.

Perhaps it wore off, as It rained more often here than it does today.
Or these rocks didn’t attract artists, who preferred to paint animals
alive in the nighttime sky on the walls of caves: their form of inter-
species communication.


Because premodern societies adapted to each season appropriately there was
no need for acceleration, rupture, or revolution, placing them in a world whose
climatic forces they knew how to accommodate. Modernity began with the
dissolution of reality into the brackish waters of relentless discoveries.


When death is less a word than a way of being, the earth is your destiny.
Although too often a philosopher’s mind is curled in a world of hungry
ghosts, it may still reach into a valley teeming with green life.


After ten dry months, a long thin atmospheric river stretched across warm Pacific
waters. On a morning like this Martin Heidegger hunkered down in his hut, stoked
the stove, conjured up ethereal beings roaming the forest outside his window,
and pondered Kant’s message that in the future we will have no direct knowledge
of spiritual beings, only opinions of them.

But it was already too late when, fifty-four years earlier, Newcomen’s coal-driven
atmospheric engine was fired up. From then on gnosis could only be engineered,
or may appear risen in holographic space.


Mud stuck between cleats, I continued walking with data collected from an unknown
source, a practice that maintains a balance between integration and differentiation in
a landscape with no spirit without substance to bind it, and no ethos without beings
to pry it free.


Although he never climbed the mountain, his vision drew Cézanne to paint Mont
Sainte-Victoire as if “generating a space that was moving into a different, yet-to-
be-named space.”

From Adam to Linnaeus, who “was in reality a poet who happened to become a
(10) we’ve assigned ourselves the authority to name, to classify, and to
place every object into a taxonomy.

As Cézanne painted the same mountain from various angles and inclinations,
its “surface ruptured with a pulsation of marks that tend not so much to elide,
as to ignore the code of resemblance” to the truth of a vision yet to be seen.


Would Rilke have joined this hummingbird flitting from flower to flower,
sounding like a foghorn on a foggy night, in its various angles of fight?


Clay shaped by hands, and fired in a kiln, takes on “a beginning that linked
primal innocence with sculptural simplicity.”
(12) While clay baked by the sun
hardens into a balance between differentiation and integration.


The walls of Paleolithic caves contributed to the shapes the images painted
onto them. The art may have cosmological significance remembered in the
dark underworld galleries of the human mind.

The gods of capitalism also are above and below. Coal, Oil, Gas are pumped
up to fuel machines coughing and spewing climate-heating gases, and flows
of highly profitable returns raise the bottom line.


On the curve of a recently opened path, redwood and knotty pine nailed together
are weathered by windy thoughts howling until they crumble into the loam of an
unknown calligraphy.


“More and more of us will evolve past flesh. At what point, do you suppose,
we stop being real?”

Lemon-colored dawn spreads through a scattering of dark clouds. No rain.
I’ve plied these paths for a decade, dreaming into a scheme of thoughts
that drew me to where life can be viewed at its center, and reality can’t be
falsified. What consciousness is is elusive because it cannot be thought.


Walking downhill one foot slips, then another, two times I’m saved
from Cerberus’ sharp teeth by a walking stick probing for signs in
Gaia’s most awesome directions. Here a faint path leads to poems
that ring with the angular beauty of stones.

Where a Burning Bush is a wildfire mythological space subsumes
cosmological place. Here the mountain itself, turns me around.


1. J. Sallis, Stone. Bloomington IN, 1992. p. 93.
2. In Quentin Meillassoux’s philosophy, the great outdoors is “the wilds of the Real to which philosophy
may achieve direct access once it frees itself from the correlation between thinking and being.” D. Spaulding, “Inside Out.” 9/21/21.—out—
3. C. Malabou, “Superhumanity on Plasticity with Catherine Malabou.” MMCA, Oct. 27, 2017.
4. Y. Hui, Recursivity and Contingency. Lanham, MD, 2019). p.x.
5 P. Ball, The History of the Unseen: From Plato to Particle Physics. London, 2015. p.7.
6. P. Celan. From, “Assisi.”
7. N. Wilde, “Burning Bridges: The problem of relations in object-oriented ontology—a topological approach.” Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 25 Feb 2020. p.9.
8. Kant on Swedenborg: Dreams of a Spirit-Seer & Other Writings. G.A. Magee, trans. West Chester, PA, 2003. p.39. (Originally published in 1766.)
9. R. Morris, “Cézanne’s Mountains.” Critical Inquiry. Spring 1998. p.815.
10. A. Strindberg.
11. R. Morris. In, C. Greenberg, The Collected Essays and Criticism: 1950-1956. Vol. 3. J. O’Brian, ed. Chicago, 1993. p.84.
12: S. Geist, “Brancusi.” Artforurm, March 1967.
13. A Rosenfield, The Cutting Season. Boston, 2007. p.148.