Thursday, November 17, 2016


This morning, I headed into the stacks of the Tioga Library at University of Washington Tacoma to seek out books on Goethe and Rilke. I didn't quite find what I was looking for, but I did discover a couple of gems that build upon my recent reading of The Metamorphosis of Plants by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.


My first discovery was The Great Naturalists, edited by Robert Huxley. There were a few references to Goethe, which were helpful, but my primary attraction to this tome turned out to be an introduction to the work of naturalist and painter Maria Sibylla Merian. And that introduction led to an afternoon of "thumbing through" an electronic version of her Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (1705).


My second discovery was an article—"Vegetable Genius: Plant Metamorphosis as a Figure for Thinking and Relating to the Natural World in Post-Kantian German Thought" by Elaine P. Miller—in Rethinking Nature: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, edited by Bruce V. Foltz and Robert Frodeman. I ran out of time and didn't get to finish the complete article, but will be returning to take more extensive notes. But the notes I did manage to take helped to guide a re-reading of Goethe's essay on plant metamorphosis.


This was the most alive I've felt in a long time, in the sense of feeling great joy in the act of reading and researching, while simply being alone. Maybe it's time to go back to school? Or maybe it's just time for a new set of poems? Either way, it is definitely time to set aside a few hours here and there to sit in the library with books and read and take notes.

1 comment:

Ada Ludenow said...

Oh Troy, you are in school. You have always been in school since I've known you and I admire your for it. It always reminds me of the school Thoreau had at Walden.

Academia would be anathema to you. I look forward to the wisdom poetry coming out of this vegetative phase. (an irresistible pun)