Barbara's Reviews > Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
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's review
May 16, 12

bookshelves: consciousness, nature
Read in May, 2012

It's a pleasure to follow Annie Dillard's meandering thoughts and musings about both the ordinary things and the thrilling spectacles she has witnessed in nature on her travels, near and far. She's a keen observer who makes me want to pay more attention to the details of each moment in my own environment. Her wondering about human psychology is fascinating, too. “The Deer at Providencia” was the hardest one to read, reminding me about how downright brutal nature, as well as people, can be. “A Field of Silence” resonated with me deeply.
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Quotes Barbara Liked

Annie Dillard
“In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world's rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. This is given. It is not learned.”
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

Annie Dillard
“What is the difference between a cathedral and a physics lab? Are not they both saying: Hello? We spy on whales and on interstellar radio objects; we starve ourselves and pray till we're blue.”
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

Annie Dillard
“Geography is the key, the crucial accident of birth. A piece of protein could be a snail, a sea lion, or a systems analyst, but it had to start somewhere. This is not science; it is merely metaphor. And the landscape in which the protein "starts" shapes its end as surely as bowls shape water.”
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

Annie Dillard
“There was only silence. It was the silence of matter caught in the act and embarrassed. There were no cells moving, and yet there were cells. I could see the shape of the land, how it lay holding silence. Its poise and its stillness were unendurable, like the ring of the silence you hear in your skull when you're little and notice you're living the ring which resumes later in life when you're sick.”
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters


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