Wednesday, February 13, 2002

On Foot to the Bypass Esso Postal Outlet-Don McKay

The first thing that struck my mind as I read this poem was the clash of nature with humans. McKay incorporates the raven, the hills and the wind with the ugly images of the abandoned styrofoam, the bottles and the bypass. It leaves one with a jarring feeling, actually. It reminded me of the disharmony between things nature and things human. I also got a sense of nature as being ruined by our presence, which was disturbing. McKay's images were disturbing, to say the least. I found myself cringing at the eighteen wheelers spewing out combustion and exhaust. I can't help but picture that same piece of road millions of years ago, littered with grasses and insects instead of dead meat and abandoned appliances. I found this poem also to be a commentary about the drastic effects of humans on every corner of this planet. It is sad when practically everyone can relate to the idea of a highway cutting through a part of nature with garbage strewn about its edges. I have recently been reading quite a bit on enhanced global warming effect as propagated with by humans and I realize that humans have altered everything on this planet and beyond. Even the once pristine ice caps of the Atlantic are now the dumping grounds of atmospheric pollution. Getting back to the poem, however, I wonder what the significance of the raven is? I seem to recall coming across the raven again and again throughout the course of the poem. It is symbolic?

Trickster Makes this World-Lewis Hyde

I particularly liked this article and found the discussion of the trickster to be amusing as well as informative. The story of the Coyote really grabs the attention of the reader, who, like me, may not know where it is leading. We find out soon enough, however, as Hyde launches into a discussion of the trickster. The trickster is a boundary-crosser and blurs the line between truth and falsehood. I liken the trickster to someone that recognizes life's boundaries but also takes pleasure in stretching them. I like to think that our culture is flexible enough to allow the trickster exist in modern time, but I think that this may not be so in reality. We, especially as North Americans have become accustomed to pushing the envelope with everything, which makes the shocking seem nothing but ordinary. As Hyde claims, ordinary liars, cheats and thiefs are not what makes a trickster. If anything, I think the new trickster will appear at the boundary of nature and culture. As we have discussed in this course, the boundaries between the two are constantly being redrawn and erased. The trickster may be the fox who lives both in the forest and in the city. The trickster may also be the eagle who hunts in the field but nests on top of the city highrise. I think that this boundary provides ample room for a trickster to exist and in a way I hope that he does. He might challenge our conventional thinking or convince us to take a different road. At most, the trickster will tell us how to behave and at the very least, he will amuse us. In the end, I am left with two questions: What is cairn and who really is the trickster of the nature-culture boundary?