Philosophical Meandering

Literary and philosophical quotes

I would like to see it all, to understand it, but I must start somewhere, so I try to deal with the giant water bug in Tinker Creek and the flight of three hundred redwings from an Osage orange, with the goldfish bowl and the snakeskin, and let those who dare worry about the birthrate and population explosion among solar systems.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

We have not yet found the dot so small it is uncreated, as it were, like a metal blank, or merely roughed in— and we never shall. We go down landscape after mobile, sculpture after collage, down to molecular structures like a mob dance in Breughel, down to atoms airy and balanced as a canvas by Klee, down to atomic particles, the heart of the matter, as spirited and wild as any El Greco saints . And it all works.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch; I couldn’t make one. A tree stands there, accumulating deadwood, mute and rigid as an obelisk, but secretly it seethes; it splits , sucks, and stretches; it heaves up tons and hurls them out in a green, fringed fling. No person taps this free power; the dynamo in the tulip tree pumps out ever more tulip tree, and it runs on rain and air.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Beauty itself is the language to which we have no key; it is the mute cipher, the cryptogram, the uncracked , unbroken code. And it could be that for beauty, as it turned out to be for French, that there is no key, that “oui” will never make sense in our language but only in its own, and that we need to start all over again, on a new continent, learning the strange syllables one by one.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

There is a certain age at which a child looks at you in all earnestness and delivers a long, pleased speech in all the true inflections of spoken English, but with not one recognizable syllable. There is no way you can tell the child that if language had been a melody, he had mastered it and done well, but that since it was in fact a sense, he had botched it utterly.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard