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5. Barbara “Barney” Nelson, “That One-Eyed Hereford Muley” from The Wild and the Domestic

Edited by David Taylor University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 5

Barbara “Barney” Nelson

That One-Eyed

Hereford Muley

Barbara “Barney” Nelson has published six books, the most recent is

God’s Country or Devil’s Playground: The Best Nature Writing from the Big

Bend of Texas. In addition, her scholarly essays appear in three recent collections about Henry David Thoreau, Mary Austin, and Edward Abbey. She has also published numerous popular press essays, photographs, and poetry— the most recent is “My First Daughter was an Antelope” in Heart Shots: Women

Write About Hunting (edited by Mary Stange, Stackpole, 2003). Nelson is an associate professor of English at Sul Ross State University in Alpine. Nelson’s work mixes the rural, agricultural voice with nature writing.

“I am interested in exploring my personal ecology.

I live from deer; this voice has been fed from deer.

I appreciate the fact that I am made out of the animal

I love.”

— Richard Nelson

I was sitting in a boring literature class one day, a shiny-faced, idealistic undergraduate, thinking about boys—only I had started calling them men. I was an Animal Science major, studying to become a ranch manager, or a cowboy’s wife, whichever came first.

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House and Home

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

When our first child was born, a rosy wriggle of a girl we named Eva, my wife and I were living in a second-floor apartment on the noisiest avenue leading east and west through Bloomington, Indiana. Trucks grinding their gears, belching buses, howling ambulances and squad cars, unmufflered pickups and juiced-up jalopies roared past our windows, morning, noon, and night. What little dirt we could find between pavement and weeds in our tiny yard was slimed with engine oil.

To begin with, Eva weighed only six and a half pounds, all of them fidgety. Like any newborn she was pure appetite. With a stomach so small, she hardly seemed to close her eyes between feedings. Even when those brown eyes did fitfully close, they would snap open again at the least sound. Ruth nursed her to sleep, or I rocked her to sleep, and we’d lay her in the crib as gingerly as a bomb. Then some loud machine would come blaring down the street and Eva would twitch and wail.

Once an engine had frightened her, mere milk would not soothe this child, nor would a cradle endlessly rocking. Only songs would do, a rivery murmur while she snuggled against a warm chest, and the chest had to be swaying in rhythm to a steady walk. Fall silent or stop moving and you had a ruckus on your hands. Night after night, I worked my way through The Folk Songs of North America, cover to cover and back again, while carrying Eva in circles over the crickety floorboards. It took hours of singing and miles of walking to lull her to stillness in my arms, and then a siren or diesel could undo the spell in seconds.

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Medium 9780253018595

Excerpt from Brother · Fiction

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Jambiani Beach no.1. Black and white photograph (digital). ©2008 Isaak Liptzin.

a forthcoming novel*

HE WAS MY brother. The one who told me about lightning and girls. The one who crouched beside me in hideouts when we were little. His shoulder thin and bare against mine, his body always just a skin away. That summer when we were only seven and eight and we climbed the sappy pine busting out of the asphalt behind the 7-Eleven. Days after reaching for each other’s hands to smell and name what clung there still. (‘It’s Mr. Clean,’ my brother finally said, nailing it.) That fall of the same year when he led me to the road-side ditch off Lawrence Avenue and piled the loose and blowing stuff of this land over our bodies like a blanket, hoping for cover. Leaves of orange and red, dried weeds and twigs. Also trash like paper and foil and the many shredded plastic bags blown here from fast food shops. Our hats camouflaged all guerilla style with twigs and mashed up drinking straws. Our faces already the color of earth.

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Medium 9780253356864

6. Colors

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

“Colours spur us to philosophize,” Wittgenstein once observed, but what are to make of Thoreau’s prodigality with them? In “The Ponds,” he begins a description of Walden by casually remarking that “All our Concord waters have two colors at least, one when viewed at a distance, and another, more proper, close at hand” (121). He doesn’t leave the matter there. The ensuing paragraph assembles twenty-nine separate mentions of color to suggest how the neighboring ponds and rivers appear under different conditions and from different perspectives: blue, dark slate-color, green, as green as grass, the color of the sky, a yellowish tint, light green, uniform dark green, vivid green, verdure, blue mixed with yellow, the color of its iris, a darker blue than the sky itself, a matchless and indescribable blue, more cerulean than the sky itself, original dark green, muddy, vitreous greenish blue, colorless … as … air, green tint, black or very dark brown, a yellowish tinge, alabaster whiteness.

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1 Disimmigration as a Remedy for the Illness of Immigration in Ismaël Ferroukhi’s Le Grand voyage

Hakim Abderrezak Indiana University Press ePub

On November 2, 2009, a grand débat (great debate) was initiated by Eric Besson, Nicolas Sarkozy’s minister of the lengthy and ambitious Ministère de l’immigration, de l’intégration, de l’identité nationale et du développement solidaire (Ministry of immigration, integration, national identity, and solidarity development). The debate on national identity soon turned into a reflection on how to assert one’s Frenchness, and the consequent stigmatization of the supposedly “non-integrate-able” Other, embodied by the North African, the Arab, and in the post-9/11 era, the “out of place” Muslim in “secular” France. The goal was to win the votes of the most conservative fringe, but confusion and controversy caused the debate to be dropped within a few months. Racist comments were made by average French citizens and governmental officials alike, as was evidenced by many unfortunate statements that circulated on television and the internet. The debate was an avenue for what some may deem slippages of speech, and for others, a willful decision to say aloud what many were thinking softly. Such a discourse evolves in a Foucauldian sense as a discursive practice and is thus subject to power structures. It is a production that becomes a grid, reading the Other and confining him behind it. The national debate showed its limits and its sinister nature. Aware of its stigmatizing effect, many politicians warned the government against the second debate that Sarkozy asked his government to initiate, le débat sur l’Islam (the debate on Islam), right before the cantonnales (local elections, which took place in spring 2011), and a few months before the French presidential elections of May 2012.

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20. Leaving Walden

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Walden’s celebration of Thoreau’s glorious twenty-six months in the woods leaves almost all of its readers with a stark question: why did he choose to leave? The book’s “Conclusion,” of course, offers one explanation, but its laconic offhandness has never proved very satisfying:

I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. (217)

“I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there”—what could that sentence mean? In “Where I Lived and What I Lived For,” Thoreau had already spelled out his reason for going to the pond: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach” (65). With its senses of care, consideration, and unhurriedness, deliberately does a lot of work in that passage, endowing Thoreau’s move to the woods with the aura of an existential choice. As he set about finishing Walden, Thoreau had certainly come to recognize that choice as the decisive one of his life, the one that had given him the most immediate happiness and prompted the writing that would establish his reputation.

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4. Baskets

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Early in “Economy,” Thoreau spins an anecdote into a parable:

Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood. “Do you wish to buy any baskets?” he asked. “No, we do not want any,” was the reply. “What!” exclaimed the Indian, as he went out the gate, “do you mean to starve us?” Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off,—that the lawyer only had to weave arguments, and by some magic wealth and standing followed,—he had said to himself; I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do. Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man’s to buy them. He had not discovered that it was necessary for him to make it worth the other’s while to buy them, or at least make him think that it was so, or to make something else which it would be worth his while to buy. I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth any one’s while to buy them. Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them. (16)

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After the Flood

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

A river poured through the landscape I knew as a child. It was the power of the place, gathering rain and snowmelt, surging through the valley under sun, under ice, under the bellies of fish and the curled brown boats of sycamore leaves. You will need a good map of Ohio to find the river I am talking about, the West Branch of the Mahoning. The stretch of it I knew best no longer shows on maps, a stretch that ran between wooded slopes and along the flanks of cornfields and pastures in the township of Charlestown, in Portage County, a rural enclave surrounded by the smokestacks and concrete of Akron, Youngstown, and Cleveland in the northeastern corner of the state.

Along that river bottom I gathered blackberries and hickory nuts, trapped muskrats, rode horses, followed baying hounds on the scent of raccoons. Spring and fall, I walked barefoot over the tilled fields, alert for arrowheads. Along those slopes I helped a family of Swedish farmers collect buckets of maple sap. On the river itself I skated in winter and paddled in summer, I pawed through gravel bars in search of fossils, I watched hawks preen and pounce, I courted and canoed and idled. This remains for me a primal landscape, imprinted on my senses, a place by which I measure every other place.

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Medium 9780253001818

Part 2 The Personal and the Political

William O'Rourke Indiana University Press ePub

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the mid-1980s, I was sitting in the living room of the first house I ever owned, watching the television show, This Old House, on PBS. Bob Vila was doing a rehab project on Cape Cod. As he would, on occasion, he took a side trip to view other real estate (Vila more often went to factories to see how house products, windows, etc., were made). He went to a home in Hyannis, on the Cape, with a view of the bay. In front of it was one of the last beach-front properties for sale in the town.

Vila pulled up behind the house, because there was no garage, and not much of a front “yard,” since the house was built on what was still dune, but a fairly beat-down one, where the land was becoming solid earth, not shifting sand.

There was bright, blinding light all around, the sun glancing off the water of Cape Cod bay and my black and white TV seemed luminous, dream-like, as Vila approached the home’s back door, which, more or less, functioned as a front door.

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Straddling Shifting Spheres

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

a conversation with David Chariandy

Am I a writer? An artist? I do not know. I know, though, that if tomorrow someone managed to convince me that all is hunky-dory with those who look like me, I would indulge myself in long Fieldingesque works . . . I would call myself a writer. Right now, I feel the term intellectual worker, which I have heard Lloyd Best of the Tapia House Movement in Trinidad use, best describes me.

—ERNA BRODBER, “Fiction in the Scientific Procedure”

CARIBBEAN WRITERS HAVE a long tradition of straddling the worlds of critical and creative work. Some, like Erna Brodber and Kamau Brathwaite, formally pursued academic studies and continued to practice in their discipline while also producing fiction and poetry; and others, like Derek Walcott and M. NourbeSe Philip, wrote cultural criticism alongside their poetry without the official sanction of a doctorate but often from the ivory tower nonetheless. The boundaries between the academic and cultural spheres have never been firm and the balance never even, but our theorists are frequently also our poets, our novelists, our playwrights. Such intellectual workers consciously shift between various types of writing as they grapple with Caribbean concerns.

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24. Obscurity

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

“I do not suppose that I have attained to obscurity” (218), Thoreau concludes, in a phrase so off-handed, so modest, so good natured that it conceals, in a manner absolutely characteristic of his writing, a startling complexity. For by trailing connotations of deliberate striving, “attained” converts obscurity from a “fatal flaw” into a longed-for goal, and abruptly Thoreau’s apparently innocent words align with his uncompromising ones: “Give me a sentence which no intelligence can understand” (Week, 151). Since all communication operates under the threat of illegibility, which most rhetoric exists to forestall, why would Thoreau wish to court obscurity, with its attendant responses “I don’t understand,” “I don’t follow you, “I don’t see”?

This move has been recognizable to us at least since the French symbolists’ attempt to make poetry resemble music, to rid it of any overt “subject matter.” Its lineage descends from Mallarmé’s reasons for revising his commemorative sonnet for Verlaine (“Wait … let me add at least a little obscurity”), to Eliot’s maxim that “genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood,” to Stevens’ near-quotation of Thoreau: “The poem must resist the intelligence/Almost successfully.” For Thoreau, however, the model was not music but the world itself: “We require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable,” he writes in “Spring.” “We need to witness our own limits transgressed” (213).

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The Silences of Bob Kaufman: A Cento

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

the truth is an empty bowl of rice

truth is a burning guitar

it takes so much to be nothing

long green journeys into sounds of death

you get off at Fifty-ninth Street forever

eternity has wet sidewalks

all those well-meaning people

who gave me obscure books

when what I really needed

was a good meal

ordinary people, that is, people whose annihilation

is handled on a corporate scale

they have memorized the pimples

on your soul

whether I am a poet or not, I use

fifty dollars’ worth of air

every day, cool

dear people, let us eat Jazz

so we sat down on our bloodsoaked

garments and listened to Jazz

one thousand saxophones infiltrate the city

my face is covered with maps of dead nations

the poet nailed to the bone of the world

I love him because his eyes leak

in most cases, a sane hermit will beat

a good big man

I think of Chaplin and roll a mental cigarette

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Wayland

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

Two blacktop roads, broken by frost and mended with tar, running from nowhere to nowhere, cross at right angles in the rumpled farm country of northeastern Ohio. The neighborhood where they intersect is called Wayland—not a village, not even a hamlet, only a cluster of barns and silos and frame houses and a white steepled Methodist church. Just north of Wayland, the army fenced in thirty square miles of ground for their bomb factory, and just to the south the Corps of Engineers built their reservoir. I grew up behind those government fences in the shadows of bunkers, and on farms that have since vanished beneath those imprisoned waters. Family visits to church began carrying me to Wayland when I was five, romance was carrying me there still at seventeen, and in the years between I was drawn there often by duty or desire. Thus it happened that within shouting distance of the Wayland crossroads I met seven of the great mysteries.

Even as a boy, oblivious much of the time to all save my own sensations, I knew by the tingle in my spine when I had bumped into something utterly new. I groped for words to describe what I had felt, as I grope still. Since we give labels to all that puzzles us, as we name every blank space on the map, I could say that what I stumbled into in Wayland were the mysteries of death, life, beasts, food, mind, sex, and God. But these seven words are only tokens, worn coins that I shove onto the page, hoping to bribe you, coins I finger as reminders of those awful encounters.

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The Inheritance of Tools

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

At just about the hour when my father died, soon after dawn one February morning when ice coated the windows like cataracts, I banged my thumb with a hammer. Naturally I swore at the hammer, the reckless thing, and in the moment of swearing I thought of what my father would say: “If you’d try hitting the nail it would go in a whole lot faster. Don’t you know your thumb’s not as hard as that hammer?” We both were doing carpentry that day, but far apart. He was building cupboards at my brother’s place in Oklahoma; I was at home in Indiana putting up a wall in the basement to make a bedroom for my daughter. By the time my mother called with news of his death—the long-distance wires whittling her voice until it seemed too thin to bear the weight of what she had to say—my thumb was swollen. A week or so later a white scar in the shape of a crescent moon began to show above the cuticle, and month by month it rose across the pink sky of my thumbnail. It took the better part of a year for the scar to disappear, and every time I noticed it I thought of my father.

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Medium 9781574416367

Murray’s Problem

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press ePub

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