A Sense Sublime
Richard Quinney
(Borderland Books)
In what was probably another of those mid-life crises, Richard Quinney dropped out and went off to live in DeKalb, Illinois.

I don't know: if I was going off to have a mid-life crises, I'd probably head off to the California coast or Key West or, best, the south coast of France, Málaga, the Pacific isles. Probably not to DeKalb IL over there somewhere to the west of Chicago . . . home to Joseph Glidden, self-proclaimed "Father of Barbed Wire."

DeKalb is thus famous for the barring of the west, the DeKalb AgResearch Corporation --- now Monsanto, father of the your major hybrid seeds --- and a Wal-mart Super Center. Also T.J. Hart, pornographic actress, and Judas Iscariot, a black metal band. Not much to come home to.

What Wikipedia doesn't mention is the railroad that runs through the middle of town. Quinney comes across as a rather pacific Robert Bly type, but the noise of these diesels running down the heart of DeKalb at 3 AM made him wax wroth. He sent complaining letters to the local newspapers "protesting the noise of the train and the ineffectiveness of the whistle." Fat chance. The railroads, barbed wire and Monsanto and its heirs have been running DeKalb for over a century, and he figures that a complaining letter to the DeKalb Daily Wheeze-bag is going to shut off this noise.

§   §   §

A Sense Sublime consists of sixty odd pages of photograph with accompanying quotes from the likes of Meister Eckhart, William Wordsworth, Wendell Berry Lau-Tzu, and the Texas Zen Master, Willie Nelson. Juxtapositions here are a bit jarring. A Junkyard in DeKalb is paired with Albert Camus; a trashed Buick coupe is somehow merged with the poet Charles Wright; a cow up to its knees in rainwater is seen as another face of Meister Eckhart; and the much maligned "Illinois Central Tracks North of Town" are blandly forged with Thich Nhat Hanh,

    When we are deeply in touch with the present moment, we can see that all our ancestors and all future generations are present in us. Seeing this, we will know what to do and what not to do for ourselves, our ancestors, our children, and their children.

The dual tracks do finally meander off into the horizon, but we still have a bit of trouble tracking this with "our ancestors and all future generations." I was rather smitten by T. S. Eliot's "Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing." Even though Eliot is about the last person on earth we would ever associate with dancing, but the bedroom scene on the opposite page is charming . . . in a rather cloistered way. As he was cloistered.

--- Pamela Wylie
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