The comic book is not the first medium that comes to mind for conveying the ideas of Henry David Thoreau, but it’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised. I stumbled upon Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino at a small local bookstore several years ago and was immediately drawn to the thin tome. In this graphic novel, distilled passages are fused with a minimalistic art style to create a unique work that captures the essence of Thoreau’s physical and spiritual sojourn at Walden Pond. It has since become one of my favourite interpretations of the famous transcendentalist’s work, serving as a handy and accessible resource for Thoreau’s exploration into nature, culture, and self.
Update: With the recent earthquake in Nepal, I’m very sad to realize many of the wonderful people and places I encountered are lost forever. In memoriam. We came across many beautiful landscapes in Nepal, some shaped by natural processes, others conceived and constructed by human minds and hands. We sought to describe their beauty and the impressions they left on us.
With the focus on nature-culture relationships within the confines of the garden, I would like to share my experience at the Nitobe Memorial Garden at the University of British Columbia last week. A Japanese Zen garden can itself be interpreted as a narrative of change, revolving around the natural and human cycles of birth, maturation, growth, and death. (At least that’s what the pamphlet says!) Here are some photos and descriptions of my journey through the beautiful and meticulously designed landscape: “Each tree, stone and shrub has been deliberately placed and is carefully maintained to reflect an idealized conception and symbolic representation of nature. There is harmony among natural forms – waterfalls, rivers, forests, islands and seas – and a balance of masculine and feminine forces traditionally attributed to natural elements.” (Nitobe Memorial Garden website) “Water crossings reflect different life stages such as marriage, spiritual growth, etc.” (Nitobe Memorial Garden guide pamphlet) “…the 7-storey pagoda adds an exotic beauty to aid peaceful meditation. The buddha carving suggests a teenager’s search for life’s meaning.” (Nitobe Memorial …
The Farthest Shore is my favourite story of the Earthsea series. It is also one of my favourite novels of all time. While I loved Wizard more growing up, Shore is the book I come back to as an adult. The prose is graceful and fluid, written by someone with mastery of the language. The exchanges between the characters are honest, heartfelt, and thought-provoking. It is a story that tackles the one theme we all must face: Death. I have taken both meaning and solace from its pages during times of loss and grief. The exploration of The Farthest Shore will be split into two parts; there’s simply too much material to cover in one entry. I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time with this book, so it’s no surprise that I have forged many connections with it. Let’s get started!