The Emptied Nature

Thus, when you hear in the thunder the voice of a god, you are stopping short, for the voice of a god is not really a voice from beyond the world, from the uncreated. By taking the god’s voice away- or envisaging the god as an angel, a servant of that Other- you go further. The thunder becomes not less divine but more.

C.S. Lewis. Reflections on the Psalms.

‘By taking the god’s voice away,’ Paul shivers, ‘cut out it’s vocal chords.’ We are sitting at the park, it’s a beautiful day, I can see a few clouds cover the sun like windshield wipers. ‘Taking everything away and you are simply left with a messenger. Nature is a messenger.’

I have been watching Paul write lately, it is nothing you would have thought it was. What did you think it was? What did you think it was like? Well, for starters, he typically writes standing up. ‘My toes hurt if I don’t,’ Paul adds. He always places the pencil in his hair, not by his ear, but literally tucked beneath his bangs covering his forehead. ‘Don’t you dare tell them who I’ve been writing to! Not yet!’

‘If C.S. Lewis had changed the word thunder to text, or more precisely literature, he would have anticipated the next one hundred years.’ Paul is a fan of C.S. Lewis. In my room, there are three posters of Lewis, all presents from Paul. One is of Lewis smiling, his nose takes up almost the entire photo. The second, is of Lewis riding a bicycle, but not any bicycle, it is a little red tricycle. And lastly, Lewis with his wife. But this photo looks stolen, the edges are worn and there is a pretty large rip down the middle. ‘The text holds not the voice of god, but it is a messenger.’

By emptying Nature of divinity- or, let us say, of divinities- you may fill her with Deity, for she is now the bearer of messages.


‘This is why we write, this is why we interpret, for a living,’ Paul smiles. He picks himself up and heads toward the monkey bars and slide. ‘What we mean by sacred, as in a sacred text, in essence says just this.’ Paul climbs the ladder, curls his fingers, and hangs upon the bars. It is cute watching Paul because his belly is so round. ‘Every text is emptied of divinity, it is refilled with messages. The messages are signs that there is still life, a heart beat, elsewhere.’

‘Call that Deity.’ Paul falls into the sand. He is ankle deep in white sand, with an odd smell, looking like a cat liter box.

Paul has a very interesting calligraphy, also, he writes like a child. His a’s look like o’s, his e’s look like f’s. It is a little enchanting to look at just the script on each piece of paper. Better, his note taking skills seemed unlearned. Has he ever sat in a classroom, I wonder? It is hard to tell whether he is ever reading a book, because he seems to be writing as much, if not  more, of his own thoughts in the margins.

But not the margins, that’s the difference, he writes over the middle of the pages. His notes, drawings, lines linking two words, three words, go through the pages. Paul, if I had to make the guess, looks as inspired as any inspired text.

There is a sense in which Nature-worship silences her [i.e. Nature]- as if a child or savage were so impressed with the postman’s uniform that he omitted to take in the letters.


‘That is what I do, I take in the letters,’ Paul puffs a little sand from his mouth, ‘ingest the letters in a human way, in mouthfuls.’ As he’s speaking he walks to the top of the slide. It is a small blue slide made of plastic. The sun breaking from the clouds goes and reflects off the slide. ‘O my!’ Paul cries, as his bare legs touch the slide. ‘Hot!’

‘Lay the letters across your body, also, to see if they fit.’ Paul screams as he slides down by a puddle of water. There is something about this idea of Nature without a god’s voice even here, about Paul fitting on a childish slide, it reminds me of Hermes. Apart from Hermes being a mailman, of sorts, I could see him with Athena helping her fit into a new dress or talking to Homer about what hat to wear fishing. ‘Yes,’ Paul says, ‘there is a reason why Nature doesn’t have the voice of a god… it’s because it has more body.’


About Rene Diebenkorn

Lifetime Artist. ETC.

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