Metaphorest

morning forest 2

Nature is a temple in which living pillars
Sometimes give voice to confused words;
Man passes there through forests of symbols
Which look at him with understanding eyes.

–Baudelaire, “Correspondences” (Willaim Aggeler translation)

walking stick

A forest is the metaphor for this site. Like a forest, rhetoric provides tremendous resources for many purposes. However, one can easily become lost in a large, complex habitat (whether it be one of wood or of wit). The organization of this central page and the hyperlinks within individual pages should provide a map, a discernible trail, to lay hold of the utility and beauty of this language discipline.
Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric

spider woods 1

Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost.

–Dante, The Inferno (Robert Pinksy translation)

spider woods 2

In this I would imitate travelers who, finding themselves lost in a forest, ought not to wander this way and that, or what is worse, remain in one place, but ought always to walk as straight a line as they can in one direction and not change course for feeble reasons, even if at the outset it was perhaps only chance that made them choose it; for by this means, if they are not going where they wish, they will finally arrive at least somewhere where they will be better off than in the middle of a forest.
–Descartes, Discourse on Method (Donald A. Cress translation)

spider woods 3

I sank down on the bench, stupefied, stunned by this profusion of beings without origin: everywhere blossomings, hatchings out, my ears buzzed with existence, my very flesh throbbed and opened, abandoned itself to the universal burgeoning. It was repugnant. But why, I thought, why so many existences, since they all look alike? What good are so many duplicates of trees?
–Sartre, Nausea (Lloyd Alexander translation)

Frass Happens

The mind is the source of all confusion, and the body is the forest of all impure actions.
The Sutra on the Eight Great Realizations of Great Beings
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Once again: Don’t forget to send in links for the Halloween edition of the Festival of the Trees by October 26.

And speaking of deadlines, next Monday — October 15 — is the deadline for submissions to the current qarrtsiluni theme, Making Sense (theme descriptiongeneral guidelines).

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

14 Comments


  1. Beautiful photos.
    I always wonder how a spider gets that first silk across the void between two trees. Does it climb down and walk across the ground and then up the other tree? Does it jump? Does it swing from a higher branch?
    Or is there a deeper secret privy only to spiderfolk?

    Dont anyone tell me…I like the mystery.

    Reply

  2. Great quotes, though the Sartre is odd as always. Fantastic web photos – I’m envious – and I love the title.

    Reply

  3. wobblewax – Thanks for stopping by. I’ve been enjoying your blog.

    I can understand wanting to preserve the mystery, but if you have a couple of hours to spare sometime, you could try this: find an orb web with an active spider and no egg case and destroy it, including the anchor lines. Then settle down nearby to watch as she rebuilds.

    Tall Girl – Glad you liked.

    marja-leena – Each of the quotes bothers me in some way, but none more so than Sartre, who was uniquely full of shit.

    Reply

  4. Those spiderwebs are beauties!

    spider’s canopy
    makes a fragile chandelier
    of scattered raindrops

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  5. I wonder if the spider knows that we, people, find the result of his work so beautiful. It’s sad to think that he only feels guilty about it because he uses it to feed himself.

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  6. Who’s the metaphorest of them all?
    Groan.

    the result of his work
    Her work, actually.

    Granted that spiders probably aren’t able to feel the kind of aesthetic appreciation that we do. But they are probably also spared the converse, and wouldn’t understand your utilitarian estimation of their handiwork, either. The web is an extension of their bodies; some species eat their web each night and spin it again in the morning. They mate on it, and they lay their eggs on or beside it; it’s not just for catching flies. Imagine what the wind must feel like.

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  7. To Wobblewax, if you sit and wait in a known spider’s web-building place late in the afternoon just as it is getting dark you can watch the web-building process. That first thread is let out as a free-floating strand that the slightest of breezes catches and the spider waits for it to catch onto something. When it does the spider pulls it taut and from there starts the web.

    I didn’t know walking sticks could read, but wasn’t that little guy standing there with his hands in the air, up against the plaque? wonder how long he was thinking of remaining in that position? Or was he just pulling your leg, Dave?

    Reply

  8. ahw.. too bad, it was so romantic to see the spider sitting in her web like Rondin’s Thinker, and thinking all that stuff.
    The wind, well I hope the wind feels guilty when it blows the web kaduk.

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  9. butuki – Walking sticks often rest with their forelegs in front, for some reason. I guess to better imitate a stick and elude detection – unless of course they happen to be perched on a white background, in which case they simply look ridiculous.

    Anne-Mieke – Have you ever read the American children’s classic Charlotte’s Web? Maybe one of the best, most imaginative books about a spider ever written. Highly recommended, even for adults. Charlotte is a very brainy spider, and at one level the book is a satire about the advertising industry.

    Reply

  10. No, I have not. That will be something to look for in my lunchbreak tomorrow, thanks!

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  11. The Sartre quote reminds me of a colleague (back, back, back when I had such things) who said, “What does the world need with another poem?”

    As it happened, that careless question changed my life.

    But that’s another story.

    Reply

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