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The
Legacy
of
Dodona:
Trees
and
the
Evolution
of
Consciousness



Ladies
and
gentlemen,
you
will
hear
a
star

Dead
a
million
years,
in
the
throat
of
a
bird.


The
human
body
will
be
revealed
for
what
it
is—

A
cluster
of
roots

Pulling
in
every
direction.


There'll
be
plenty
of
time

When
an
acorn
grows
out
of
your
ear

To
accustom
yourself
to
my
ways,

To
carve
yourself
a
hermit's
toothpick.

Charles
Simic,
"Forest"


at
the
last

judgment
we
will
all
be
trees

Margaret
Atwood


I

In
our
time
thought
has
taken
so
many
"strange
loops"
that
we
are

becoming
accustomed
to
intellectual
double‐takes.
When
sociobiologist

Richard
Dawkins
suggests
(in
The
Selfish
Gene)
that
it
is
the
genes

themselves
which
are
the
true
evolutionary
beings
and
man
merely

their
tool
(an
extension
of
Samuel
Butler's
19th
century
solution
to
the

dilemma
of
the
chicken
and
the
egg:
a
chicken
is
an
egg's
conspiracy
to
produce

another
egg);
when
Lewis
Thomas
(in
The
Lives
of
a
Cell)
describes
the
Earth
as

a
living
entity,
a
cell,
and
the
human
species
as
"organelles
which
do
its
bidding,

serving
as
its
"handymen"
(Thomas'
version
of
the
now
current
"Gaia

hypothesis"),
or
Annie
Dillard
(in
Pilgrim
at
Tinker
Creek)
recasts
the

old
ontological
chestnut,
"If
a
tree
falls
in
the
forest
and
no
one
is
present,

will
it
make
a
noise?"
as
"If
I
fall
in
the
forest,
will
a
tree
hear
me?"—we
do

blink,
of
course,
but
do
not
tremble,
though
each
of
these
reversals
entails

The Collected Works of David Lavery 2

the
need
for
major,
indeed
wholesale
revisioning
of
our
sense
of
man's
place
and

meaning
in
the
world,
should
we
accept
it
as
true.
It
seems
we
have
become
largely

inured
to
intellectual
revolutions.

Heathcote
Williams,
writing
in
Co‐Evolution
Quarterly
a
few
years
ago,

whimsically
asks
us
to
consider
yet
another
such
transposition.
He
argues
that
the

"discovery
of
America
was
a
conspiracy
of
Plant
Consciousness,"
the
result
of
a

behind‐the‐scenes
plot
by
the
trees
of
Spain
to
find
out
the
latest
thinking
of
their

fellow
trees
in
the
New
World
across
the
Atlantic.
In
order
to
fulfill
their
desire,

Williams,
explains,
"they
employed
Christopher
Columbus
to
build
a
ship
made
of

wood,
and
when
it
made
its
return
journey,
they
knew."
Williams'
provocative

hypothesis
does
not
seem
to
me
to
be
at
all
unreasonable,
but
then
I,
too,
aspire
to

be
numbered
among
the
"transvaluers
of
all
values"
of
which
Nietzsche
spoke
and
am

understandably
sympathetic
to
such
attempts.

In
fact,
I
have
come
to
consider
Williams'
conspiracy
theory
to
be

shortsighted
and
not
comprehensive
enough.
For
trees,
I
have
discovered,
are

involved
in
a
far
more
devious,
brilliant,
and
vaster
scheme
than
the
mere
discovery

of
the
New
World.
I
have
come
to
believe
that
human
history
may
be
the
result
of

their
doing,
part
of
their
plot
to
take
over
the
world.
Allow
me
to
explain
myself.

(Please
forgive
me
if,
in
doing
so,
I
come
to
seem
a
virtual
Ancient
Mariner;
by
the

end
of
my
tale
you
will
understand
the
urgency
of
my
message
and
my
need
to

communicate
it.)
Before
disclosing
the
nature
of
this
plot,
however,
it
will
be

necessary
to
first
establish
its
historical
context
through
what
I
will
call
(after

Theodore
Roszak)
a
"psychic
archaeology"
of
man's
relationship
with
trees.


II


But
trees
are
trees,
an
elm
or
oak

Already
both
outside
and
in.

And
cannot,
therefore
counsel
folk

Who
have
their
unity
to
win.


Turn
all
tree‐signals
into
speech,

And
what
comes
out
is
a
command:

"Keep
running
if
you
want
to
reach

The
point
of
knowing
where
you
stand."

The Collected Works of David Lavery 3

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.


Our
race
would
not
have
gotten
far,

Had
we
not
learned
to
bluff
it
out

And
look
more
certain
than
we
are

Of
what
our
motion
is
about.
.
.
.

W.
H.
Auden,
"Reflections
in
a
Forest"


In
Shel
Silverstein's
fable
The
Giving
Tree,
a

young
child
progressively
forgets
as
he
grows
older

his
former
sense
of
communion
with
a
beloved

apple
tree.
The
concerns
of
adulthood—love,

money,
building
a
house,
travel,
gradually
distract

him
away
from
childhood
love
for
the
natural

world.
Originally,
the
tree
and
boy
share
a

symbiotic
relationship:
the
tree
introduces
him
to

new
forms
of
joy—giving
him
leaves
to
construct
a

make‐believe
crown,
challenging
and
thus
inspiring

his
climbing
abilities,
providing
apples
to
eat
and
a

place
to
sleep—and
his
happiness,
in
turn,
makes

the
tree
happy,
for
it
is
a
very
"giving"
tree.

But
as
an
alienated
adult,
the
boy
returns
to
the
tree—which,
we
are
told,
has

grown
very
lonely
without
its
companion—only
to
repeatedly
demand
things
of
it:

apples
to
sell
to
make
money,
wood
to
build
a
house,
its
trunk
to
build
a
boat
in

which
he
hopes
to
"get
away
from
it
all."
Finally,
as
a
decrepit,
tired
old
man,
he

returns
once
again
to
the
tree,
which
has
continued
to
give
and
give
until
just
its

stump
remains,
but
only
to
sit
exhausted
on
what
remains
of
his
old
friend,
and
even

then,
we
are
told,
the
giving
tree
"was
happy"
to
be
of
service.

Throughout
man's
evolution,
in
both
its
biological
and
cultural
phases,
trees

have
indeed
been
very
giving.
In
fact,
it
is
tempting
to
read

Silverstein's
children's
story
as
a
kind
of
allegorical
account
of
the

evolutionary
association
of
man
and
tree.

Like
the
boy
in
The
Giving
Tree.
mankind
grew
to
maturity
in

the
presence
of
trees.
Our
one‐time
arboreal
existence
in
pre‐
hominid
evolution,
it
is
now
widely
agreed,
to
a
great
extent
shaped

The Collected Works of David Lavery 4

our
very
being.
"It
is
impossible
to
say,"
writes
the
biologist
and
expert
on

environmental
perception
Paul
Shepard,
"whether
good
eyes
or
arboreality
came

first."
Man
as
we
know
him,
Shepard
argues
in
Man
in
the
Landscape,
"could
not
have

been
produced
by
any
other
than
a
diurnal
arboreal
ancestor."

In
his
Dragons
of
Eden,
Carl
Sagan
provides
a
useful
summary

of
the
traits
acquired
by
man
in
his
"treed"
past:
1)
grace
and
agility;

2)
hand/eye
coordination;
3)
binocular
vision;
4)
the
manipulative

abilities
of
his
hands;
5)
his
grasp
of
Newtonian
gravitation
at
the

intuitive
level.
To
this
list,
anthropologist
Edward
T.
Hall
adds
two

more
in
The
Hidden
Dimension:
1)
decreased
dependence
on
smell;
2)

the
ability
for
and
dependence
upon
abstract
planning
(for
the
eyes

"code
vastly
more
complex
data
and
thus
encourage
thinking
in
the
abstract").
"The

existence
of
trees,"
John
Stewart
Collis
has
observed,
"was
a
prerequisite
of

conceptual
thought.
It
was
the
tree
that
promoted
the
upright
posture.
.
.
.
Thus
it

was
the
tree
that
[he
is
quoting
Julian
Huxley]
'laid
the
foundation
both
for
the
fuller

definition
of
objects
by
conceptual
thought
and
for
the
fuller
control
of
them
by

tools
and
machines.'"



 

"During
our
erratic
wanderings
from
the
primordial
sea
to
the
present,"

writes
the
Norwegian
ecologist
Rolf
Edberg,
"it
is
true
that
the
wood
was
only
a

single
phase—but
a
phase
so
long
and
filled
with
events
that
it
can
be

considered
a
beginning
for
mankind.
The
Greeks
must
have
felt
this

instinctively
when
they
had
Clio,
the
muse
of
history,
dwell
in
a
wood."

Both
Edberg
and
the
Spanish
philosopher
Madariaga
have
gone
so
far
as
to

suggest
that
man's
nature
may
be
oddly
homologous
to
that
of
the
tree.
For

Madariaga
[pictured],
man
is
"a
tree
that
has
packed
up
its
earth
and
got

moving,"
and
his
very
mind
itself,
with
its
"down
below"
and
"up
above"

dimensions,
is
a
metamorphosis
of
the
tree's
photosynthesis.
Edberg
has
also
noted

The Collected Works of David Lavery 5

the
striking
similarity
between
the
human
brain
and
a
forest.
Neither
of
these
"depth

ecologies"
of
man
and
tree
intend
such
observations
to
be
taken
as
merely

metaphorical,
I
should
point
out.
For
both
thinkers,
trees
were,
indeed
still
are,

primary
constituents
of
our
very
being‐in‐the‐world.

Like
the
boy
in
the
fable,
man
too
once
engaged
in
magical
communion
and

communication
with
trees,
an
ability
which
has
persisted
until
the
present
day

among
"primal"
peoples.
We
can
get
a
good
sense
of
this
elemental
rapport
in
the

following
words
from
Tatanga
Mani,
or
Walking
Buffalo,
a
Stoney
Indian
from

Alberta,
Canada,
who
died
in
1967.


We
saw
the
Great
Spirit's
work
in
almost
everything:
sun,
moon,
trees,
wind,

and
mountains.
Sometimes
we
approached
him
through
these
things.
.
.
.
Did

you
know
that
trees
talk?
Well
they
do.
They
talk
to
each
other,
and
they'll

talk
to
you
if
you'll
listen.
Trouble
is,
white
people
don't
listen.
They
never

learned
to
listen
to
the
Indian
so
I
don't
suppose
they'll
listen
to
other
voices

in
nature.
But
I
have
learned
a
lot
from
trees:
sometimes
about
the
weather,

sometimes
about
animals,
sometimes
about
the
Great
Spirit.


Such
primal
sympathy
between
man
and
the
natural
world
must
have
been
with
the

human
species
since
the
beginning,
though
civilized
man
has
learned
to
put
away

such
a
childish
thing.

In
The
Triumph
of
the
Tree,
Collis
asks
us
to
imagine
for
a
moment
how
trees

must
have
appeared
to
early
human
beings:
"what
must
have
been
the
effect
of
the

mighty
trees
upon
the
first
human
inhabitants
of
the
world!
They
must
have
seemed

god‐like
creatures
to
be
placated
at
all
costs
.
.
.
the
impression
which
trees
once

made
must
been
unsurpassed
by
any
other
phenomenon."
Man's
communion
with

trees,
as
Collis'
word
"placated"
implies,
was
not
all
positive
of
course.

The
world's
mythology
is
filled
with
stories
of
both
malevolent
and

benevolent
tree
spirits:
ogres,
genii,
jinns,
witches,
goblins,
trolls,
nymphs,
gnomes,

naiads,
fauns,
dryads,
hamadadryads,
satyrs,
centaurs,
silvani,

fairies.
elves,
brownies,
pixies,
leprechauns,
and
stories
of
trees

which
had
the
power
to
possess
a
human
soul,
or
to
inflict
their

wrath
on
trespassers
of
their
domain
are
common
from
Malaya
to

Great
Britain.

The Collected Works of David Lavery 6

Nevertheless
the
tree
stood
as
the
image
of
imagination,
of
the
umbilical

linkage
between
man
and
the
cosmos,
microcosm
and
macrocosm.
For
as
Roger
Cook

writes,
in
his
The
Tree
of
Life,
imagination,
like
the
tree


unites
heaven
and
earth;
it
is
"rooted"
both
above
and
below.
Uniting
the

luminous
world
of
consciousness
to
the
dark
underworld
of
the
unconscious,

and
drawing
nourishment
from
both
the
"heavenly‐immaterial"
world
of

intelligible
meaning
and
the
"earthy‐material"
world
of
sensory
perception,
it

creates
the
"magical"
intermediary
world
of
images.



Dodona

In
the
Norse
myth
of
Igdrasil,
the
world‐tree,
in
the
Sanskrit
belief
that
poetry
began

with
the
inspiration
of
the
wind
in
the
trees,
in
the
Bodhi
tree
beneath
which
the

Buddha
sat
when
he
achieved
perfect
enlightenment,
in
the
shrine
to
Zeus
at
Dodona

in
ancient
Greece,
where
for
a
thousand
years
the
motions
of
the
leaves
in
a
grove
of

sacred
oak
trees
were
interpreted
as
the
messages
of
Zeus,
we
can
catch
a
glimpse
of

the
"intimate
and
speaking
contact
with
nature's
creative
power"
(Edberg)
which

man
once
possessed.

Like
Silverstein's
practical
adult,
we
have,
we
like
to
think,
matured
beyond

the
companion
of
our
youth,
outgrown
even
imagination
itself,
for
now
we
have

science
and
objectivity.
With
the
coming
of
civilization
we
began
to
turn
our
back
on

the
trees
that
once
both
sustained
and
enchanted
us.
We
have
made
nature
natural.

This
process
can
be
seen
clearly
in
the
changing
attitude
of
the
Greek
mind.
For

once,
as
Roland
Barthes
has
observed,

The Collected Works of David Lavery 7

the
ancient
Greek
was
amazed
by
the
natural
in
nature;
he
constantly
listened

to
it,
questioned
the
meaning
of
mountains,
spring,
forests,
storms;
without

knowing
what
all
these
objects
were
telling
by
name,
he
perceived
in
the

vegetal
or
cosmic
order
a
tremendous
shudder
of
meaning,
to
which
he
gave

the
name
of
a
god:
Pan.
Subsequently,
nature
has
changed,
has
become

social:
everything
that
is
given
to
man
is
already
human,
down
to
the
forest

and
the
river
which
we
cross
when
we
travel.

No
longer
feeling
the
"shudder
of
meaning,"
we
are
no
longer
capable
of
speaking

with
trees.

Not
surprisingly,
then,
the
founding
of
civilization,
as

historian
William
Irwin
Thompson
has
pointed
out,
always
seems

to
entail
the
destruction
of
a
forest
spirit
(Thompson
is
thinking

of
the
Babylonian
epic
Gilgamesh)
and
the
building
of
a
wall,

either
architectural
or
psychological,
in
defense
against
its
feared
return.
In

Gilgamesh,
for
example,
the
wall
Uruk
is
constructed
to

separate
civilization
from
the
forest
life
man
has
put

behind
him.
And
it
is
behind
such
walls
that
man
embarks

upon
his
historical
project
to
(in
the
words
of
the

philosopher
Ortega
y
Gasset
[pictured,
left])
free
"himself

from
the
community
of
the
plant
and
the
animal,"

creating
"an
enclosure
apart
which
is
purely
human,
a
civil
space."
"I
have
nothing
to

do
with
the
trees
of
the
field,"
Socrates
proclaims
triumphantly
in
the
Phaedrus
(4th

century
B.C.),
"I
have
only
to
do
with
the
man
of
the
city,
an
attitude
which,
Ortega

notes,
epitomizes
the
rational
outlook
on
the
natural
world
at
the
birth
of
which

Socrates
served
as
midwife.

Some
sense
of
the
sacredness
of
trees
did
remain
for
a
time,
of

course,
even
into
the
Christian
era.
In
what
is
now
Germany,
for

example,
a
man
caught
desecrating
a
tree
was
himself
disemboweled
and

his
intestines
wound
around
the
offended
tree
in
reparation.
And,
if
we

are
to
believe
Spengler,
the
awesome
architecture
of
the
Gothic

cathedral
was
an
attempt
to
replicate
the
experience
of
life
in
the

forest.
But
the
biblical
injunction
(Exodus
34:13)
against
all
tree

idolaters
("But
yee
shall
destroy
their
altars,
break
their
images,
and
cut
down
their

groves")
prevailed.

The Collected Works of David Lavery 8

By
the
eighth
century
the
disenchantment
of
the
forests
had
progressed
so
far

that
St.
Boniface
became
revered
for
his
act
of
cutting
down
a
tree
believed
by
the

Saxons
to
be
sacred.
Myth
records
this
advance
in
the
Arthurian
legend
of
the

withdrawal
of
Merlin
and
his
tree
magic
into
the
heart
of
the
forest
in
old
age,
where

it
is
believed
his
cry
sounds
there
still,
though
now
untranslatable—like
the
language

of
trees.

During
the
Renaissance,
it
is
true,
the
magic
of
trees
returned,
at
least
for

poetic
minds.
In
Shakespeare's
depiction
(in
As
You
Like
It)
of
a
wood,
free
from
the

"penalty
of
Adam,"
in
which
can
be
found
"tongues
in
trees,
books
in
running
brooks,

sermons
in
stones
and
good
in
everything";
in
Edmund
Waller's
(1606‐1687)

celebration
of
a
time
when
"in
green
palaces"







the
first
kings
reigned,

Slept
in
their
shades,
and
angels
entertained;


With
such
old
counselors
they
did
advise

And
by
frequenting
sacred
groves
grew
wise
.
.
.
;


in
James
Howell's
poetic
depiction
of
Dodona'
Grove,
or
the
Vocall
Forrest
(1645)
as
a

locale
where


It
fortion'd
not
long
since,
that
Trees
did
speak,
and
locally
move,
and
met

one
another.
Their
airy
whistling,
and
soft
hollow
whispers
became
Articulate

sounds,
mutually
intelligible,
as
if
to
the
soul
of
vegetation,
the
sensitive

faculties
and
powers
of
the
intellect
also,
had
been
co‐infused
into
them
.
.
.


we
can
certainly
detect
signs
of
reenchantment.
But
mostly
they
tended
to
see
the

archaic
view
of
trees
as
a
sign
of
primitive,
childlike
confusion.
Listen,
for
example,

to
Howell's
explanation
of
the
tree‐speech
of
the
Oaks
at
Dodona:


In
the
nonage
of
the
world,
men's
voyces
were
indistinct
and
confused
and

sojourning
chiefly
in
Woods,
by
a
kind
of
assimulation
and
frequent

impressions
in
the
eare,
they
resembled
those
soft
susurrations
of
the
Trees

wherewith
they
conversed:
untill
Time,
which
ripeneth,
and
Art
which

perfecteth
all
things,
and
hath
a
greater
interest
in
speech
then
Nature
her

The Collected Works of David Lavery 9

self,
did
distinguish
the
misshapen
sounds
into
syllables,
and
so
by
degrees

into
language.


Though
he
does
trace
the
origin
of
language
back
to
Dodona,
Howell
nevertheless

characterizes
tree‐speech
as
"misshapen"
and
thinks
of
his
own
time
as
having

evolved
beyond
such
confusion
of
subject
and
object.
The
philosopher
Descartes'

more
objective
view
of
trees—he
claimed
to
have
discovered
the
Cartesian

coordinate
system
while
contemplating
a
tree
outside
his
room
through
the
frame
of

a
window—might
be
taken
to
be
more
representative
of
the
age
and
more
historically

influential.



Wordsworth,
Colerifdge,
Emerson,
Goethe


The
Romantic
movement's
attempt
two
centuries
later
to
develop
a
truly

organic
concept
of
the
imagination
could
be
seen
as
another
attempted

resacralization
of
the
natural
world.
Keats
tells
us
that
poetry
should
come
as

"naturally
as
the
leaves
to
a
tree"
or
"it
had
better
not
come
at
all."
Wordsworth

writes
of
a
"spirit
in
the
woods"
and
teaches
that
"One
impulse
from
a
vernal
wood"

is
wiser
than
"all
the
sages."
Emerson
speaks
of
"an
occult
relation
between
man
and

the
vegetable"
whose
effect
is
"like
that
of
a
higher
thought."
Goethe
instructs
his

contemporaries
that
"If
it's
the
greatest,
the
highest
you
seek,
the
plan
can
direct

you./Strive
to
become
through
your
will
what,
without
will,
it
is."
And
Coleridge,

similarly,
suggests
that
"What
a
plant
is
by
an
act
not
its
own
and
unconsciously,
that

you
must
make
thyself
to
become,"
for
it
is
"the
visible
organismus
of
the
entire

silent
or
elementary
life
of
nature,
and
therefore
incorporating
the
one
extreme

becomes
the
symbol
of
the
other;
the
natural
symbol
of
that
higher
life
of
reason.
.
.

."
Taken
together,
considered
as
one
voice,
these
writers
are
telling
us
that
the

"sensitive
plant"
is
the
true
model
for
all
growth
and
development,
not
just
the

poet's.
It
should
not
surprise
us,
then,
that
the
Romantics
produced
many
a
poem

(and
painting:
think
of
Constable)
with
magical
forest
settings.

T h e C o l l e c t e d W o r k s o f D a v i d L a v e r y 10


And
now
a
French
philosopher
and
novelist
comes
to
find
trees
as
something

"repugnant"
and
"in
the
way,"
as
beings
with
whom
man
cannot
feel
even
a
trace
of

empathy,
except
to
feel
sorry
for
them.
In
Jean‐Paul
Sartre's
Nausea,
a
novel
whose

narrator
espouses
views
very
like
Sartre's
own,
we
find
a
passage
like
the
following:


I
sat
down
on
the
bench,
stupefied,
stunned
by
the

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
too
many
duplicates
of
trees.


Because
they
epitomize
what
Sartre
calls
"being‐in‐itself,"
because
they
do
not,
in

Auden's
words
"have
their
unity
to
win,"
Roquentin
(Sartre's
narrator)
finds
their

existence
inconvenient,
"in
the
way."
He
wants
them
to
exist,
he
says,
"more

abstractly,"
more,
that
is,
like
him.


III


Trees
and
rocks
do
not
indulge
in
the
impertinence
of
foisting
lessons

upon
us.
Their
method
of
instruction
is
more
circuitous
and
indirect,

but
perhaps
all
the
more
potent
for
that.
Their
first
lesson
is
to
draw

us
outside
the
narrow
and
presumptuous
horizons
of
our
humanism.

William
Barrett,
The
Illusion
of
Technique


What
within
us
is
tree?







What

cannot
be
budged,
the
stock


'not
moved'
that
stands
and
yet

draws
us



into
ourselves,
centers
us,



never
rebuffs
us,
utters

our
wildest
dreams
for
us,
dreams

T h e C o l l e c t e d W o r k s o f D a v i d L a v e r y 11

of
oceanic
blessing,

our
hymns
of
pure
being?

Denise
Levertov


To
him
that
overcometh
will
I
give
to
eat
of
the
tree
of
life,
which
is
in

the
midst
of
the
paradise
of
God.

Revelations
2:7


In
Regarding
Wave.
as
an
epigraph
to
the
poem
"Long
Hair,"
Gary
Snyder

relates
the
following
fantasy:


Once
every
year,
the
Deer
catch
human
beings.
They
do
various

things
which
irresistibly
draw
men
near
them:
each
one
selects
a

certain
man.
The
deer
shoots
the
man,
who
is
then
compelled
to

skin
it
and
carry
its
meat
home
and
eat
it.
Then
the
Deer
is
inside

the
man.
He
waits
and
hides
in
there.
But
the
man
doesn't
know

it.
When
enough
Deer
have
occupied
enough
men,
they
will
strike
all
at
once.

The
men
who
don't
have
Deer
in
them
will
also
be
taken
by
surprise,
and

everything
will
change
some.
This
is
called
"takeover
from
inside."


When
I
first
encountered
this
marvelous
conspiracy
theory
several
years
ago,
it

immediately
assumed
a
place
of
honor
in
my
daily
thoughts.
It
seemed
to
me
a
story

with
real
healing
power—as
all
true
stories
should
be.
For
it
suggested
in
effect
that

in
man's
co‐evolution
with
the
natural
world
nature
will
have
the
last
word:
it
said

that
nature
will
triumph
in
the
end,
even
over
man's
unnatural
desires
and
by
means

of
those
same
desires.
It
hints
that
even
in
man's
treatment
of
nature
as
an
object
to

be
consumed,
his
reduction
of
the
mystery
of
things
to
what
Heidegger
has
termed

"the
stored‐away,"
nature
itself
is
at
work,
conspiring
to
get
him
back—to
return
him

to
the
fold,
enfolding
him
again
within
the
mystery.

And
then
one
night
I
discovered
the
part
trees
have
played
in
this
"takeover

from
inside."
With
Snyder's
tale
part
of
my
understanding
and
despairing
thoughts

about
the
destiny
of
our
species
beleaguering
my
mind,
I
found
myself
prowling
the

aisles
of
a
large
university
library,
not
so
much
in
search
of
any
particular
piece
of

knowledge,
but
entranced,
rather,
by
the
phenomenon
of
a
library
itself.
I
walked

through
a
room
nearly
as
large
as
a
basketball
court
where
thousands
of
books
lined

T h e C o l l e c t e d W o r k s o f D a v i d L a v e r y 12

the
tall
shelves,
and
as
my
eyes
scanned
all
that
immense
accumulation
of
stored‐
away,
"extra‐genetic"
information
(as
the
communication
theorists
call
it),
this

"World
Three,"
produced
through
the
mediation
of
the
technologies
of
writing
and

book
printing,
seemed
to
take
on
a
new
meaning.
The
ordinary
appearance
of
the

library
faded
before
my
eyes.
I
was
standing—was
it
not
obvious?—in
a
room
full
of

martyred
trees.

Although
McLuhan
was
probably
correct
in
arguing
that
the
reduction
of
the

sensual
multiplicity
of
the
aural
world
of
pre‐literate,
oral,
man
into
the
linearity
of

the
printed
word
as
man
entered
the
"Gutenberg
Galaxy"
had
led

the
way
to
our
vastly
diminished
awareness
of
nature's
panoply,
I

wondered
if
it
had
not
all
been
for
a
reason
we
seldom

understand.
Might
not
the
Gutenberg
Galaxy,
I
thought
then,
be

just
another
name
for
the
consumption
phase
of
Snyder's

"takeover
from
inside"?
And
was
not
the
Gutenberg
Galaxy
now

drawing
to
a
close?

Might
it
not
be
possible,
then,
I
continued
to
think
as
I

stood
amazed
in
that
forest/library,
that
trees,
too—like
Snyder's
deer—have
for

these
many
centuries
been
offering
us
their
flesh,
after
first
irresistibly
drawing
us

to
them
(as
they
did
for
a
thousand
years
at
Dodona),
in
order
to

then
become,
through
their
martyred
offering
of
themselves
in
our

print
media,
ingested
by
our
ravenous
eyes
in
the
process
of

reading,
in
order
to
become
a
tacit
power
present
in
the
very

fabric
of
our
intelligence.
(Had
not
William
Carlos
Williams

argued—in
one
of
the
seminal
ideas
of
modern
poetics—that
the

whiteness
which
surrounds
"the
figure
a
poem
makes"
on
the
page

is
as
important
as
the
poem
itself?)

Has
not
the
secret
motive
of
the
trees
been
to
seduce
us,
through
our
long

exposure
to
the
printed
page's
white
ground
and
the
wisdom
which
could
be

tattooed
upon
their
skins,
into
a
love
for
them
and
their
ground,
to
take
over
from

within
our
awareness
of
the
world,
turn
us
inside‐out,
return
us
to
their
world
in
a

gestalt
reversal
in
which
the
natural—the
very
ground
of
our
being
as
creatures—and

the
Earth
itself,
through
its
most
integral,
most
eloquent
"voices"
and
most

enchanting
emanations,
the
trees
of
Gaia,
finally
"gets
a
words
in
our
narrow
ear"—
our
inner
ear:
our
room
of
one's
own
become
again
a
forest?
The
words
of
a
long‐
admired
but
never
really
understood
poem
suddenly
became
clear
to
me.

T h e C o l l e c t e d W o r k s o f D a v i d L a v e r y 13


The
trees
inside
are
moving
into
the
forest,

the
forest
that
was
empty
all
these
days

where
no
bird
could
sit

no
insect
hide

no
sun
bury
its
feet
in
shadow

the
forest
that
was
empty
all
these
nights

will
be
full
of
trees
by
morning.
(Adrienne
Rich,
“The

Trees”)


These
words,
I
realized,
were
an
intelligence‐report,
perhaps

a
history.

If
the
conspiracy
of
the
trees
which
I
had
discovered
succeeds,
I
thought,

then,
as
Snyder
surmised,
"everything
will
change
some."
As
I
stood
alone
in
the

library
that
night
I
began
to
laugh
quietly
at
the
subtlety
and
indescribable
wisdom

of
the
plan.
I
thought
of
John
Evelyn's
observation
(in
the
seventeenth
century)
that

trees
have
twice
saved
mankind:
once
through
the
construction
of
the
Ark
and
again

by
providing
the
Cross,
on
which
man's
sins
might
be
redeemed,
and
in
so
doing
had

more
than
made
amends
for
their
having
once
provided
the
evil
fruit
of
the
tree
of

knowledge.
There
will
be
a
third
time,
I
thought.
And
I
wondered
if
the
Tree
of
Life

might
be
the
reward
not
of
"him
that
overcometh"
but
of
man
overcome,
taken
over

from
inside,
having
reached
at
the
end
of
all
his
running
the
point
of
knowing
where

he
stood.

Wishing
the
conspiracy
to
triumph,
I
resolved
not
to
enclose
it,
though
not
to

do
so
was
clearly
sedition.
I
discovered
then
my
vocation:
I
would
be
a
double‐agent.

And
yet
I
cannot
be
silent;
for
to
help
facilitate
the
trees'
stratagem
I
must
put

words
on
paper,
providing
more
food
for
thought
.
.
.
these
words,
in
fact.
And
I

thought
of
the
words
of
another
co‐conspirator:


One
space
spreads
through
all
creatures
equally—

inner‐world‐space.
Birds
quietly
fly
and
go

right
through
us.
Oh,
I
that
want
to
grow,

I
look
outside
and
in
me
grows
the
tree.
(Rilke)