Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

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Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Literary Criticism - 176 pages

Here, in this compelling assembly of writings, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard explores the world of natural facts and human meanings.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - laytonwoman3rd - LibraryThing

Annie Dillard sees things others don't see; she also sees things differently than the rest of us, sometimes. Her prose can be gorgeous, but it can also be baffling, and I just don't get what she's ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - amelish - LibraryThing

Much more unfocused and wild (?) than Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (my love!), but that's just the nature of essays, no? I prefer the essays in the first half of the book, for some reason. Read full review

Contents

Total Eclipse
9
An Expedition to the Pole
29
Living Like Weasels
65
In the Jungle
71
The Deer at Providencia
78
Teaching a Stone to Talk
85
On a Hill Far Away
95
Lenses
102
The Galápagos
108
A Field of Silence
130
God in the Doorway
137
Sojourner
146
Copyright

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Page 87 - And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
Page 70 - Pond not so much to learn how to live as, frankly, to forget about it. That is, I don't think I can learn from a wild animal how to live in particular — shall I suck warm blood, hold my tail high, walk with my footprints precisely over the prints of my hands? — but I might learn something of mindlessness, something of the purity of living in the physical senses and the dignity of living without bias or motive. The weasel lives in necessity and we live in choice, hating necessity and dying at...
Page 129 - twould win me That with music loud and long, I would build that dome in air, That sunny dome ! those caves of ice ! And all who heard should see them there, And all should cry, Beware ! Beware ! His flashing eyes, his floating hair ! Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread, For he on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Page 52 - The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake...
Page 67 - Weasel! I'd never seen one wild before. He was ten inches long, thin as a curve, a muscled ribbon, brown as fruitwood, soft-furred, alert. His face was fierce, small and pointed as a lizard's; he would have made a good arrowhead. There was just a dot of chin, maybe two brown hairs' worth, and then the pure white fur began that spread down his underside.
Page 48 - Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Page 67 - Our eyes locked, and someone threw away the key. Our look was as if two lovers, or deadly enemies, met unexpectedly on an overgrown path when each had been thinking of something else: a clearing blow to the gut. It was also a bright blow to the brain, or a sudden beating of brains, with all the charge and intimate grate of rubbed balloons. It emptied our lungs. It felled the forest, moved the fields, and drained the pond; the world dismantled and tumbled into that black hole of eyes. If you and I...
Page 52 - On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets.
Page 24 - It was good to be back among people so clever; it was good to have all the world's words at the mind's disposal, so the mind could begin its task. All those things for which we have no words are lost. The mind — the culture — has two little tools, grammar and lexicon: a decorated sand bucket and a matching shovel. With these we bluster about the continents and do all the world's work. With these we try to save our very lives. There are a few more things to tell from this level, the level of the...
Page 66 - This is, mind you, suburbia. It is a five-minute walk in three directions to rows of houses, though none is visible here. There's a 55 mph highway at one end of the pond, and a nesting pair of wood ducks at the other. Under every bush is a muskrat hole or a beer can. The far end is an alternating series of fields and woods, fields and woods, threaded everywhere with motorcycle tracks — in whose bare clay wild turtles lay eggs. So I had crossed the highway, stepped over two low barbed-wire fences,...

About the author (2009)

Annie Dillard has written twelve books,including in nonfiction For the Time Being, Teaching a Stone to Talk, Holy the Firm, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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