The Practice of Oysters and the Etiquette of Pearls

Nice to see that Tricycle decided to review the documentary “The Practice of the Wild” and the companion book “The Etiquette of Freedom.” Nice because it was a reminder that I wanted to review the book and have been lax in my duties…

Counterpoint Press was nice enough to send me a review copy of “Etiquette” a while back and encountering the conversation that emerged between these two masters of the animal kingdom (Gary Snyder and Jim Harrison) was enough to justify a purchase of this book and DVD (which did not acccompany the book that I received). The development of the conversation was like inviting sacred Shinran and profane Ikkyu over to tea and then spiking their bowl with scotch. When two old friends and literary compatriots meet the resulting dialogue is, at once, lively and challenging but subtly so and with great merit to the meager, eager fly on the wall.

And that is exactly your relation to this book.

A fly…

on the wall…

Listening with rapt attention (eavesdropping really) as you learn that even conversation between two poets is poetic. Honest and unbracingly, Snyder opens himself to Zen and his own life’s koan with Harrison feeling each word, running his tongue over each story and transliterating it into his own wide-open experience. Like watching the Virgin Mary eating oysters and then shitting out pearls: Both rough and smooth, rugged and saintly…stories emerge, glimmer and pass away.

That is what these two grand old men are representing: The impermanent and stoic saline beauty of an oyster-bed transformed through innocence and pain into something as unworldly and inexplicably wonderful as a pearl. Something that can be farmed and reproduced but is meant to be buried, forgotten to all but the most daring of divers.

Gary and Harrison ~ The divers of the human experience bringing back the pearls of wisdom that we are too lazy and too afraid to find ourselves.



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