Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Roots and fingers

I knew that I would like "Albion: the Origins of the English Imagination" when I opened the book to the first chapter and saw that it was titled, simply, "Tree." As is obvious from the subtitle, the book seeks to investigate the varied and rich history of the English imagination. The following quote illustrates why the ever important first chapter of this hefty, door-stopper of a book is devoted to trees:

"The tree encloses a communal memory--'beyond the memory of anyone now living', as the medieval rubric was later to express it--and from it derives that sense of place, of literal rootedness, which is one of the great themes of the English imagination."--p. 5-6

It never fails to amaze me how language boosts our understanding of the world. It's one thing to flatly state that the English have a sense of place; it's another to use the image of a tree to illustrate how strong that sense of place is. As you contemplate the image of the tree, your fingers feel the grip of the roots on the soil as they work their way deeper in, ever deeper.

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