Saturday, June 30, 2012

CLASSIFICATION: The Botanical Garden #3

More this morning from Jean Fremon's book, as translated by Brian Evenson:

Obviously all my interest resides in the act of classification. Classification is gaze and understanding. Without it, the thing is nothing, amorphous, without connection in the world. The gaze discerns it, creates it, gives it contrast, identity, it belongs to this family, is related to that other one, not to be confused with this one here from which it is distinguished from notably by small a, small b, small c...

In the end, I collect, but through writing, the painter is interested in his painting not in his model; as for me, I'm interested in the indexes I invent, in the categories I arrange, in the catalogs I draw up, in the measurements that I record. Each like a new stone erected across slack time.

Thus memories. Range poles, boundary stones, discoveries. . . .

However, it is not toward the real past that the search for detail is oriented, but toward a conception of the past, the past as subject-object of what is written, is invented. . . this past is the future.


And my own experience with indexes after having seen a fine film by the Berlin filmmaker Harun Farocki:

22 May 1988, Tübingen

Midmorning, sitting in the Brechtbau.  I look out a window and watch a woman approach the building through a courtyard.  Thick legs encased in blue stockings.  A green coat covering a black blouse.  Long, stringy, dull hair.  A stout body—skin stuffed with flesh and fat, like a sausage.  A joyless hunk of flesh carrying a bulging pigskin briefcase stiffed with notes for an infantile dissertation.
Zarko, who got up early this morning and came to work in the peace of the Brechtbau library, shows me a passage from Repetition:  "thus traveling became my home, waiting at bus stops and in train stations, being underway in general."  This describes the last few days, Zarko says.  From one place to another, always moving, rushing around in the car, never a moment of peace.
My experience has been almost the opposite.  After the hectic arrival and two days in Frankfurt a peace has been growing in me deeper than I have known, a dark-green and earthy-brown stillness, a deep creative well sunk into my center from which I can draw sweet cool water forever.
In a bookstore I find a German Filmalmanach for 1989.  I'm not sure how the book can foretell this year, but that's what it says on the cover.  I look up "Harun Farocki" in the index of the thick book.  There it is, with a single page number.  Excited to read about the man whose film I saw last night and with whom we then had a lively discussion, I flip through the book to find page 576.  I am surprised when it seems that it will be part of the index.  In fact it is the very page of the index where I found the name "Farocki."  I read through the page and discover that the index is correct.  On page 576 one can indeed find the name "Harun Farocki" -- immediately preceding the number 576.  
Stimulated by my little adventure, I plan a book, an index of an index.  Not an index of an index of a book, but a book that is wholly and only an index, with each entry the singular self-referential occurence of the word.  Perhaps I will create the words as well.  And then, at the end, like a normal index, a number index: the number 1 to be found on page one and on the page of the number index, the number 2 on page two and in the number index, and so on.  I will title my book Index "Harun Farocki" in honor of the occasion of my adventure.

Friday, June 29, 2012

WILDFIRE! + EVACUATION + Morning Visitors

Shortly after midnight we were told to evacuate because of a wildfire burning in the canyon to the east of us. A couple of hours later we were back home. It's so hot and dry and windy that nerves are stretched.

But life goes on. Bet this little buck wondered about all the traffic during the night. There he was this morning. And here we are as well.

smoke in the valley yesterday

morning visitor looking at Blue who is looking at him
the whole rafter back this morning, listen to her cluck

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Turkeys! 14 in the Rafter + Hummingbird

We have not seen turkeys in our yard since last summer. But look who came through this morning! 3 adults and 11 little ones.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Coincidence: Jean Fremon's The Botanical Garden, Part 2

It's a small book—handy.

It rewards even momentary attention.

I carry it into the bathroom, read it on the toilet:

It's true that I have always found suspect the scorn that one claims to hold for that waste which we didn't succeed in nourishing ourselves upon. I like how the chain which joins us to nature doesn't suddenly end at our stomach, that we are not altogether an impasse, an oubliette where all is accumulated and digested, but the site of a transition, a transformation.

Squat-Shit-Step Dancing

Working hard on our manuscript "Wild Rides, Wildflowers." An excerpt:

10 January 2000, Midway, Utah

            Sam, as I hoped, my sister’s house is good for my visiting boys, even if the word “visiting” evokes plenty of anxieties. Here’s a conversation from the weekend:

“Dad,” Ben asks, “could I have $5 for a field trip?”
            “Sure,” I reply, “anything for a good educational experience. Where are you going?”
            “To the state capitol building,” he says.
            “With your history class?” I ask.
            “Not exactly,” he answers. “I joined the Young Republicans.”
            “You did what?”
            “I joined the Orem High School Young Republicans,” he says, grinning.
            “And you want me to pay for it!”
“Dad, don’t get your shorts in a bunch. There’s a girl I like in the club.”

12 March 2000, Strawberry Peak

            In falling snow I drive up Daniels Canyon, early Bob Dylan blaring from the tape deck: “Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues,” “I’m in the Mood for You,” and a foreign song he claims he learned in Utah, “Talkin’ Hava Nagila,” complete with yodel. Sam’s busy, my boys are with their mother, and I’ve got an appointment with my therapist.

            By 8:00 I’m climbing through new snow with the rising sun at my back. Over the course of five hours I hear the distant dentist’s-drill noise of two snomos and the motors of a small airplane, but otherwise I am enclosed in deep solitude. The powder deepens as I climb, and it’s not long till I head for south-facing slopes where a solid crust under the new snow makes breaking trail a bit easier. The rhythm of skis and poles. The glow of my sweating body. The chatter of birds. Hoar frost on aspens. Icicles hanging from conifers. The snowshoe tracks of hares. A squirrel’s chatter. Erotic folds of snow where a stream peeks out of a sinuous valley.

The wind-blown snow at the top of the ridge is like powdered sugar. Clouds brush the ridge. Closed-off interior white-outs alternate with sudden sunlit openings and my soul circles from Mt Timpanogos to the Uintahs, a vast mountainous expanse I overlook from this vantage point at the top of the world. I rip the skins from my skis, eat an orange—the brilliant color shocking in the white-and-blue landscape—gulp the last of my water, and shove off through aspens in swinging bent-kneed turns that burn my thighs. “Don’t think twice,” my therapist suggests, “it’s all right.”

16 March 2000, Great Western Trail, Mt. Timpanogos
            Dear Mr. Abbott, of the Catalyst:
            I am taking the time this afternoon to write you a letter concerning the article you wrote about your son’s joining the Teenage Republicans. I must admit, I found it rather amusing, but to be quite frank, on an intellectual level, I found it to be lacking. Please allow me to take this opportunity to inform you about the wonderful opportunities that the Teenage Republicans and the GOP have for all those “who have an ear to hear . . .” namely, your son. . . .
Chairman, Utah Teenage Republicans
“An advocate of family values and the Republican way of life.”

            “We’re reaching a wider readership than we thought,” I explain to Sam as we wheeze our way up the mountain.

            “By the way,” Sam says as we roll off the mountain, “Greta just wrote and said the April issue will focus on recycling and gardening. She wondered if we could address the theme in this month’s column.”

“Riding up this damn hill again and again ought to count as recycling,” I answer.”

19 March 2000, Great Western Trail, Teasdale
            “Look at the mistletoe infestation,” I point out as we top a hill overlooking a dense stand of Utah junipers. “It’s on nearly every tree. Dwarf mistletoe is an important parasite on some trees and shrubs in Utah and is quite host specific. The species we are seeing is probably Phorodendron juniperinum, juniper mistletoe. Many mistletoes cause substantial damage to their hosts. But more interesting is the evolutionary connection between specific mistletoes, their hosts, and associated mistletoe birds.

            “Some mistletoe species only occur on one kind of tree and their fruits are eaten mostly by mistletoe birds that inhabit the same trees. The fruits are laxative and the birds get the runs. But they have evolved a behavior you can’t believe. They squat, shit, step up-branch, squat, shit, step up-branch in a repeating pattern, planting mistletoe seeds as they go. And the really interesting deal is that the shape of these birds is slightly different from that of a typical bird. They are more upright so that when they shit they hit the branch rather than pooping off the edge into the forest.”

            “Sounds like a crock of shit to me,” Scott opines.

            “It’s the god’s truth,” I say.

            “It’s Darwin’s truth,” Scott corrects me. “But the best part of the story was the little dance you did while describing a mistletoe bird pooping up a limb. I hadn’t much figured you for a squat-shit-step dancer.”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Under a Lurid Sky

A big fire just to the east of us, on the other side of the mountain, burned fiercely yesterday afternoon. Its smoke rose up over the mountain, creating what our friend Jan called a "lurid sky."

Later in the evening, to the west, a scene still tinged by the remaining smoke.

And this morning, constant traffic overhead, air tankers heading to the blaze.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jean Fremon's The Botanical Garden

Green Integer has just published, in Brian Evenson's translation, a fine little book (books in the series are 5" by 3 1/2") of exquisite thoughts, aphorisms of a sort that occur in sequence, hints of a narrative in the context of thoughts about narrative.

Just a few examples:

The phrase subverts the thing.
What is right, the word, the memory
the raw, unformed thing
And what is right?

The unfiltered true, without armature
the animal

generalized oversight

the whole as it comes

yappings of a dog, the road white with fog

its lesson: no lessons

Wendell Berry's Story "At Home"

Published in the last number of Orion, Wendell Berry's story is a quiet account of age and thoughtfulness enhanced by place. Sam and I will use this thought at the end of our "Wild Rides, Wildflowers," our descriptions of rides up the Great Western Trail for four years and of the conversations that ensued.

He went back the way he had come, again taking his time, seeing everything now from its opposite side. It was as though he made the place dimensional and substantial by his walking both ways over it, granting it the same interest in going as he had in coming. To his mind it was old beyond knowing and yet new, timeless and yet momentary, so that watching it as once more it opened before him, old as he was, he was renewed.
Wendell Berry, “At Home”

Wildflowers #20 + Drought

Because of the impending heat, Blue and I walked this morning before the sun rose from behind the mountain.

Here's what we saw:

the valley gets light before we do

mullein, Verbascum thapsus (the grosbeaks have been picking at the flowers)

arrowleaf balsam root makes for noisy walking now that it is drying

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Long day, short night, summer's here!

evening on the 20th

evening on the 20th

morning on the 21st

Spaziergang Along the Spanish Fork River on the Solstice

not a good place for an owl to perch

wheat's ripe, pole's hand cut, barbed wire is tight


found this beauty on the trail

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


For four years my friend Sam Rushforth and I wrote a column for Catalyst Magazine called Wild Rides, Wildflowers, Biking and Botanizing the Great Western Trail. We kept riding after we quit writing; but the riding finally came to an end with a crash. The photo of Sam's collapsed wheel and the hat he was wearing that day stands in my mind for rides over more than a decade.

Now I'm working to distill a book out of the 110,000 words we ultimately wrote. Here's a piece:

Lumpers and Splitters
26 February 1999, Mt. Timpanogos, Utah Valley

            On the foothills of Mount Timpanogos, in February, it’s rare to find a dry trail. This winter, however, has been sudden, short, and moody and the jeep road at the mouth of Provo Canyon, climbing through dormant cliff rose and sage, skirting cliffs of muscular blue limestone, is passable today. Unfortunately, after three months of freezing and thawing the switchbacking trail is as soft as our bellies. Tough going for the first ride of the year.

            Where the trail finally levels off, Sam drops his black carbon-fiber Trek to the ground and leans over to hide the fact that he’s sucking air. Even in extremis, he can’t take his eyes off the view. Utah Lake’s slate-grey waters slice the valley from north to south. The Oquirrh and Lake Mountains form the western horizon. Santaquin Peak and Mount Nebo dominate the southern end of the valley. Cascade Mountain is a massive snowy presence to the southeast. Provo Canyon cuts abruptly through the folded limestone to the east. And directly, even abruptly above us rise the snow-covered escarpments of Mount Timpanogos, 11,749-feet high at the peak.

I lay down my red Specialized Stumpjumper M2, a bike much heavier than Sam’s (as I point out often), and take in the view myself.

            “Damn!” Sam exclaims.

            “Damn!” I cough.

            A flock of mountain bluebirds (Sialia currucoides), their color an exact match of the brilliant sky, bursts out of the sage. The birds call to one another as they sweep across the gibbous moon that hangs heavy over the canyon.

            “Gibbous,” Sam notes, “means swollen or humped.”

            “Etymology from a botanist! No small feat,” I note.

            “Up yours,” Sam replies.

Overlooking the final hills above the City of Orem’s last orchard, we first hear and then see a motorcycle and a four-wheeler screaming across the rocky terrain. Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) break in waves before the maniacs, retreating, splitting into smaller groups, rejoining, bouncing up hills, breaking through oakbrush. Maybe two hundred of the animals.

“You bastards!” Sam yells, and speeds down the hill toward them. I join the breakneck descent, ready to protect Sam or the maniacs, whoever needs it most. The infernal combustionists see us coming and disappear around a switchback. On the flat, the two big man-boys (Homo erectus, obviously not yet Homo sapiens) have stopped to wait for us.

“What the hell are you doing?” I shout, getting in the first word.

“It’s a misdemeanor to harass wildlife,” Sam bellows, “I’ll have you sons of bitches hauled into court.”

“We weren’t hurting them,” the four-wheeled maniac says flatly.

“The hell you weren’t,” Sam blusters. “It’s the end of the winter and they’re in poor shape. You’ll kill them.”

The steely eyes of the motorcycle rider reveal only disdain. His bike spits dirt as he leaves us standing. His buddy follows, blatting a foul exhaust.

We head home through an apple orchard, then cross busy 8th North into the Orem neighborhood where we both live. “Those boys will find it hard to discount our well reasoned arguments,” Sam deadpans.

2 March 1999, Mt. Timpanogos

            Sam has a rough ride up the steep track near the mouth of the canyon. In the early going he falls twice, both times into oakbrush (Quercus gambelli) that embraces him with a brittle crackling. At the top, mounting his bike after standing for a while on yellow winter-matted grass to admire the view, he falls again. “That ties our record,” I tell him, “three falls in a single ride. But neither of us has ever done it in a hundred yards before.”

            I point to tiny green tips of new grass that have been drawn out of the earth by lengthening days and new angles of sunlight. “Harbingers of spring.”

            “Harbingers my ass,” Sam mocks. “Who talks like that? You’ve spent too much of your life in 18th-century Germany. This ‘new’ green grass has been here since mid-fall, waiting under the snow for an early start, aiming to bear seed before the heat and dryness of summer.”

6 March 1999, Great Western Trail, Mt. Timpanogos

            Today we ride along the Provo River into the canyon, turn up a dirt road that leads to a snaky green aqueduct, and then follow the pipe to where a single-track trail bisects the road. Erosion this winter has left the trail narrower than ever, but this section of the Great Western, an ambitious trail projected to reach from Canada to Mexico, widens some as it makes a double dog-leg up over a bed of what we call shale but that is really quartzite. If you’re still on your bike when you reach these loose rocks you have lost much of your momentum and your legs and lungs are burning but since you have made it this far you power your way up onto the rocks feeling for that tricky point beyond which your efforts will make your back wheel spin out, fight for balance, dodge the larger rocks, and finally, the bike gods willing, you make the sudden steep climb up from the quartzite onto the gentler trail that skirts the hill until it can swing away from the precipitous edge into a beautiful little bowl of grass bordered by scrub oak.

“Johnson’s Hollow,” Sam says. It’s easier for me to nod than to use my lungs for speech. Notch one up for him.

8 March 1999, Great Western Trail, Mt. Timpanogos

            Yesterday’s rain and snow are long gone by the time we reach the trail late on this Monday afternoon. A new storm is blowing in from the south. Streaks of rain shroud Mt. Nebo. Utah Lake is a troubled slate. Far to the south the sun breaks through to spotlight the valley floor.

            “Did you see the Zigadenus paniculatus?” Sam asks.

            “Huh?” I respond.

            “Death camus, in the middle of the trail.”

            I had missed it, but alerted to the possibility I spy a second one thrusting its sharp leaves up through the loose dirt of the trail.

            “Zigadenus,” Sam says, “is in the family Liliaceae, the lilies. Most of the members of this family are non‑toxic and several are edible—onions and garlic for example.”

            “Why ‘death camus’” I ask.

            “The generic name,” Sam explains, “refers to the active agent, an alkaloid called zygadenine that makes this the second most poisonous plant in the west, after hemlock. It causes a quickening and irregularity of the heartbeat, slows respiration, and brings on convulsions. Because it is one of the first plants to appear in the spring, livestock sometimes eat it. Lois Arnow, author of Flora of the Central Wasatch Front, says sheep are the only animals she knows of that are routinely poisoned by Zigadenus. That makes this a fine selective sheepicide.”

            Sam gestures at the gully-slotted hillside: “Greys, browns, and yellows. Colors that match my mood over the last month.”

12 March 1999, Great Western Trail, Mt. Timpanogos

            Bright sun this afternoon, but still too chilly for the shorts we both wear.

            A shiny black deposit on a rock in the trail proves to be relatively fresh fox scat (Vulpes fulva). “A touch of diarrhea,” I observe.

“Here’s a set of paw prints.” Sam points to small, rounded depressions in yesterday’s mud. Around the corner we pass the scat of a more regular fox, a tight twist of black tobacco, also deposited conspicuously on a rock. Two years ago we surprised a pair of red foxes dancing circles, rising on two legs to paw at one another. A few weeks later we looked down on a golden-brown fox backlit by a brilliant sunset, lighter hair marking a cross down the length of its back and across its shoulders. And that fall we stood and watched the same cross-phase fox trot slowly away, watching us constantly as it traversed a draw and bounded up a hill. At the top it sat back on its haunches and watched us pass.

            Since then, over the course of more than a hundred rides, we have seen many signs of foxes, but no actual foxes. Scat and tracks have had to serve, as do all signs, as the presence of an absence. We have come to relish the indirect, mediated relationship, to respect the intimate distance. Whenever we top a rise from which we have seen foxes in the past, our eyes scan the landscape hopefully. And when no fox appears we breathe a sigh of relief.


            It’s complicated, but maybe we’re relieved because we recognize ourselves as forerunners (foreriders) of the human wave encroaching on Utah’s wild places. If the foxes can slip our sight they will be better off. Grass is beginning to fill openings between the oakbrush. Shoots of death camus dot the meadow, a few of them cropped by browsing deer, we surmise, although that perplexes us. I try to dig up a bulb.

            “Careful,” Sam warns.

            It’s a double warning. There is the poison, of course. But he is sensitive as well to intrusion, to human hubris in the face of nature. I’ve heard him argue that we would have a better world if we accorded legal standing to trees. Last summer when I plucked a blooming stalk of hound’s tongue to take home to draw, Sam couldn’t suppress an “awwww!”

            The leaves of the death camus rise a couple of inches from the ground. I dig for more than four inches and still don’t reach the bulb. When I pull on the plant, it breaks off.

            “The bulbs will be deep,” Sam explains, “maybe a foot down.”

            I wipe my fingers carefully on my sweatshirt.

            “Look at this little umbel,” Sam says. “The yellow buds in the center are already open.”

            The inconspicuous plant hugs the ground, the yellow mass of tiny flowers surrounded by almost fern-like green leaves, streaks of purple along the triply forked stems. “Maybe a carrot,” Sam surmises, “or a parsnip. Some sort of umbel.” The first flowers on the foothills of Mt. Timpanogos in 1999. It feels good to have witnessed this.


Dear Editor, I can’t believe you let Sam and Scott misspell camas (‘death camus’) numerous times. It wrecks their credibility and yours. The column they write is interesting to me. People are trying to extend the Great Western Trail in Cache County, and I worry about Terry Tempest Williams’ “bikers lycra siticus” – people who zip by the botanical beauty without seeing it. Now I know some see it, but I hope they do their homework next time before they write it in the paper. Star Coulbrooke of Smithfield, Utah

            “Abbott, what happened? You misspelled the word in the first draft, and I corrected it. How the hell did it end up back at the French existentialist?”

            “Sam, I saw your correction when I was going through the final draft, but I changed it back. Must have been a subconscious indication of how I view your intelligence, or maybe the death part of the name triggered the existential part of my brain.”

            “Brain?” Sam asks.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wildflowers #19

evening primrose, Oenethera ? ? ?, likely non-native

but sure pretty now as the heat comes on and spring flowers are almost gone

goat's beard

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

As I Stood Fighting

Toni Morrison’s Home versus William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

What being, with only one voice, has sometimes two feet, sometimes three, sometimes four, and is weakest when it has the most?
Man, Oedipus answered, because he crawls on all fours as an infant, stands firmly on his two feet in his youth, and leans upon a staff in his old age.
Robert Graves, The Greek Myths: 2 (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1955) 10.
Gustav Moreau

In William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying, it is Addie Bundren who lies dying while her son Cash, a carpenter, saws and smooths the boards that will make her casket. The whole family (Addie’s husband Anse and the children Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman) is dying, each one in his or her own way. Standing—for the most part a stagnant and static standing—is novel’s dominant metaphor.
In Toni Morrison’s novel Home, it is Frank Money who lies immobilized by drugs and cuffs in the “crazy ward” of a northwestern hospital while his sister Cee lies dying in Georgia: “’Come fast. She be dead if you tarry.’” Frank thinks about a chair while plotting his escape: “If hand-crafted, who was the carpenter and where did he get his lumber?”
            Toni Morrison got the lumber for her novel from William Faulkner’s novel. Instead of a coffin, instead of a coffin of a novel that depicts an interminable and excruciating attempt to get Addie Bundren to where she will be buried, Morrison builds a novel of achieved resurrection, of anastasis, of Auferstehung, of standing up.
“They rose up like men. We saw them. Like men they stood.”
The opening lines and the dominant metaphor of Home are echoed at the novel’s end by words painted on a sanded piece of wood Frank Money nails to a sweet bay tree: “Here Stands A Man” and then by Frank’s thoughts:
I stood there a long while, staring at that tree.
It looked so strong
So beautiful.
Hurt right down the middle
But alive and well.
Cee touched my shoulder
Come on, brother. Let’s go home. 147

To get to this state, to this home, Frank’s journey includes the following (italicized sections are Frank’s own account, which sometimes contradicts the other narrator’s account):
We shouldn’t have been anywhere near that place. . . . The reward was worth the harm grass juice and clouds of gnats did to our eyes, because there right in front of us, about fifty yards off, they stood like men. Their raised hooves crashing and striking, their manes tossing back from wild white eyes. They bit each other like dogs but when they stood, reared up on their hind legs, their forelegs around the withers of the other, we held our breath in wonder. . . . Then it stopped. The rust-colored one dropped his head and pawed the ground while the winner loped off in an arc, nudging the mares before him.
. . . we saw them pull a body from a wheelbarrow and throw it into a hole already waiting. One foot stuck up over the edge and quivered, as though it could get out, as though with a little effort it could break through the dirt being shoveled in. We could not see the faces of the men doing the burying, only their trousers; but we saw the edge of a spade drive the jerking foot down to join the rest of itself. When she saw that black foot with its creamy pink and mud-streaked sole being whacked into the grave, her whole body began to shake. . . .
Since you’re set on telling my story, whatever you think and whatever you write down, know this: I really forgot about the burial. I only remembered the horses. They were so beautiful. So brutal. And they stood like men. 3-5
            In Faulkner’s novel animals stand like men as well, but the comparison works backwards in most cases, with men and women standing docilely like the animals (italicized passages are the thoughts of whichever narrator is speaking at the time):
It was Darl. He come to the door and stood there, looking at his dying mother. . . . “What you want, Darl?” Dewey Dell said, not stopping the fan, speaking up quick, keeping even him from her. He didn’t answer. He just stood and looked at his dying mother, his heart too full for words. 15

Pa stands beside the bed. . . . Then she raises herself, who has not moved in ten days. . . . She lies back and turns her head without so much as glancing at pa. . . . Cash comes to the door, carrying the saw. Pa stands beside the bed, humped, his arms dangling. She will go out where Peabody is, where she can stand in the twilight and look at his back with such an expression. . . . Pa stands over the bed, dangle-armed, humped, motionless. 30-33

The cow is standing in the barn door, chewing. . . . I stoop my hand to the ground and run at her. She jumps back and whirls away and stops, watching me. She moans. She goes on to the path and standins there looking up the path. It is dark in the barn, warm, smelling, silent. I can cry quietly, watching the top of the hill. Cash comes to the hill, limping where he fell off of the church. 35-36

The cow stands at the foot of the path, lowing. . . . his [pa’s] head bowed a little, his awry hair standing into the lamplight. He looks like right after the maul hits the steer and it no longer alive and dont yet know that it is dead. . . . “Ay,” pa says. He rouses up, like a steer that’s been kneeling in a pond and you run at it. “She would not begrudge me it. 38-39

. . . and still see Cash going up and down with that saw, and Anse standing there like a scarecrow, like he was a steer standing knee-deep in a pond and somebody come by and set the pond up on edge and he aint missed it yet. 46-47

We stand holding the rope. . . . He comes opposite us and stands there. . . . eye to eye they stand in their close wet clothes. . . . they stand there, watching Jewel’s still hands. . . . When we pass the wagon pa is standing beside it, scrubbing at the two mud smears with a handful of leaves. . . . Cash has not moved. We standin above him, holding the plane, the saw, the hammer, the square, the rule, the chalk-line. . . . 108-109

. . . fury in itself quiet with stagnation 110

Jewel was stopped, halfway back, waiting to go on to the horse. “I give other things,” Anse said. He begun to mumble his mouth again, standing there like he was waiting for somebody to hit him and him with his mind already made up not to do nothing about it. . . . Jewel had come back now, standing there. . . . Anse stood there, mumbling his mouth. . . . Anse stands there, dangle-armed. “For fifteen years I aint had a tooth in my head,” he says. . . . Jewel stands with his hands on his hips, looking at Anse. 129

I happened to look up, and saw her outside the window, looking in. Not close to the glass, and not looking at anything in particular; just standing there with her head turned this way and her eyes full on me and kind of blank too, like she was waiting for a sign. . . . So I went around the counter. I saw that she was barefooted, standing with her feet flat and easy on the floor, like she was used to it. . . . She stood there, not looking at me. . . . But she just stood there, not looking at me. 135-137

Faulkner’s characters stand like the dumb animals they are. Morrison’s characters Frank and Cee come to stand like the magnificent horses that stand fighting like men to determine which will protect and service the herd. But before they can do that they have difficulties to overcome.

Frank, for instance, has been suffering from incapacitating, immobilizing depression that keeps him from standing:
She had begun to feel annoyance rather than alarm when she came home from work and saw him sitting on the sofa staring at the floor. One sock on, the other in his hand. . . . She regretted the loss of ecstasy but assumed its heights would at some point return. 75
The multiple times when she came home to find him idle again, just sitting on the sofa staring at the rug, were unnerving. 78
After leaving Lily, after a breakdown, Frank must break out of the hospital and make his way without shoes (and then with torn galoshes and only later with work shoes):
Still, before escape, he would have to get shoes somehow, some way. Walking anywhere in winter without shoes would guarantee his being arrested and back in the ward until he could be sentenced for vagrancy. Interesting law, vagrancy, meaning standing outside or walking without clear purpose anywhere. Carrying a book would help, but being barefoot would contradict “purposefulness” and standing still could prompt a complaint of “loitering.” . . . Twenty years ago, as a four-year-old, he had a pair, though the sole of one flapped with every step.
Although shoes were vital for this escape, the patient had none. . . . 10
Jean Locke returned with a basin of cold water. “Put your feet in here, son. It’s cold but you don’t want them to heat up too fast.” 14
 “He needs shoes too, John.” There were none to spare, so they put four pair of socks and some ripped galoshes next to the sofa. 16
 “Okay,” said Billy. “Now for some grown man’s shoes. Thom McAn or do you want Florsheim?” “Neither. I ain’t going to a dance. Work shoes.” 36
The sole of my shoe flapped until Pap tied it up with his own shoelace. 40
            Anse Bundren likewise has a shoe (and thus standing) problem:
Pa’s feet are badly splayed, his toes cramped and bent and warped, with no toenail at all on his little toes, from working so hard in the wet in homemade shoes when he was a boy. Beside his chair his brogans sit. They look as though they had been hacked with a blunt axe out of pig-iron. 7

When we go up the hall we can hear them clumping on the floor like they was iron shoes. . . . He stands there, like he dont aim to move again nor nothing else. 21

            And although it’s not exactly a shoe problem, Cash Bundren limps from a broken leg and then, after the leg is rebroken, suffers a crude attempt to immobilize it with cement:
“’And dont tell me it aint going to bother you to have to limp around on one short leg for the balance of your life—if you walk at all again. Concrete,’ I said. ‘God Amighty, why didn’t Anse carry you to the nearest sawmill and stick your leg in the saw? That would have cured it. Then you all could have stuck his head into the saw and cured a whole family. . . .’” 165
            Like Frank in his early going, Cee too is troubled by bad shoes:
The walk from the bus stop was a long one, hampered by Cee’s new white high-heeled shoes. Without stockings, her feet were chafing. . . . Thank you, ma’am. Can I take off these shoes first?” Sarah chuckled. “Whoever invented high heels won’t be happy till they cripple us.” 59
            Repeatedly, when Morrison’s characters threaten to fall into the stasis of Faulkner’s Bundrens, they stand up and act. Cee, for instance:
Cee stood up in the zinc tub and took a few dripping steps to the sink. 43
She was all alone now, sitting in a zinc tub on a Sunday defying the heat of Georgia’s version of spring with cool water while Prince was cruising around with his thin-soled shoes pressing the gas pedal in California or New York, for all she knew. . . . 50
Standing at the window, wrapped in the scratchy towel, Cee felt her heart breaking. . . . Now she stood, alone. . . . 53
            While Cee feels trapped, unable to travel like her faithless lover, she stands up out of the tub and arranges to find a better job. Anse Bundren, however, hates the idea of movement alltogether:
Durn that road. And it fixing to rain, too. I can stand here and same as see it with second-sight, a-shutting down behind them like a wall, shutting down betwixt them and my given promise. . . . A-laying there, right up to my door, where every bad luck that comes and goes is bound to find it. I told Addie it want any luck living on a road when it come by here, and she said, for the world like a woman, “get up and move, then.” But I told her it want no luck in it, because the Lord puts roads for travelling: why He laid them down flat on the earth. When He aims for something to be always a-moving, He makes it longways, like a road or a horse or a wagon, but when He aims for something to stay put, He makes up-and-down ways, like a tree or a man. . . . keeping the folks restless and wanting to get up and go somewheres else when He aimed for them to stay put like a tree or a stand of corn. Because if He’d a aimed for man to be always a-moving and going somewheres else, wouldn’t He a put him longways on his belly, like a snake? It stands to reason He would. . . . I says to them, he was all right at first, with his eyes full of the land, because the land laid up-and-down ways then; it wasn’t till that ere road come and switched the around longways and his eyes still full of the land, that they begun to threaten me out of him, trying to short-hand me with the law 22-23

            Jewel Bundren (not his father’s child, but the offspring of an affair his mother Addie had and for which she paid for the rest of her life) is unlike the rest in many ways, including having the ability to take actions like this one:
“Come here, sir,” Jewel says. He moves. . . . Save for Jewel’s legs they are like two figures carved for a tableau savage in the sun. When Jewel can almost touch him, the horse stands on his hind legs and slashes down at Jewel. Then Jewel is enclosed by a glittering maze of hooves as by an illusion of wings; among them, beneath the upreared chest, he moves with the flashing limberness of a snake. For an instant before the jerk comes onto his arms he sees his whole body earth-free, horizontal, whipping snake-limber, until he finds the horse’s nostrils and touches earth again. . . . They stand in rigid terrific hiatus, the horse trembling and groaning. Then Jewel is on the horse’s back. . . . For another moment the horse stands spraddled with lowered head, before it bursts into motion. . . . The horse enters the stall, Jewel following. 7-8
Traveling east, after a young black couple riding in the same car had been brutalized by a crowd in Elko, Nevada, Frank knocks down a pimp who has no right to stand:
The young sun was blazing and there was little standing to cast a shadow or provide shade, only the feed store, the shop, and one shambling broke-down house across the road. A brand-new Caddilac, gilded in sunlight, was parked in front. Frank crossed the road to admire the car. . . . He walked down the side toward the squeals, expecting to see some male aggressor showing off. But there on the ground were two women fighting. Rolling around, punching, kicking the air, they beat each other in the dirt. Their hair and clothes were in disarray. The surprise to Frank was a man standing near them, picking his teeth and watching. He turned when Frank approached. He was a big man with flat, bored eyes.
“What the fuck you looking’ at?” He didn’t remove the toothpick.
Frank froze. The big man came right up to him and shoved his chest. Twice. Frank dropped his Dr Pepper and swung hard at the man, who, lacking agility like so many really big men, fell immediately. Frank leaped on the prone body and began to punch his face, eager to ram that toothpick into his throat. The thrill that came with each blow was wonderfully familiar. Unable to stop and unwilling to, Frank kept going even though the big man was unconscious. The women stopped clawing each other and pulled at Frank’s collar. . . . Then she dropped to her knees and tried to revive her pimp. Her blouse was torn down the back. It was a bright yellow.
Frank stood and, massaging his knuckles, moved quickly, half running, half loping back to the train. . . . This violence was personal in its delight. Good, he thought. He might need that thrill to claim his sister. 100-102
            Cee remembers a similar incident in which Frank protected her from a man unworthy of standing by attacking a pervert’s legs:
Suddenly he was behind the tree she was leaning against, swinging his bat twice into the legs of a man she had not even noticed standing behind her. . . . Hours later, Frank explained. The man wasn’t from Lotus, he told her, and had been hiding behind the tree, flashing her. 51
And Frank reflects on how his protective relationship with his sister is a key to who he is:
She was the first person I ever took responsibility for. Down deep inside her lived my secret picture of myself—a strong good me tied to the memory of those horses and burial of a stranger. Guarding her, finding a way through tall grass and out of that place, not being afraid of anything—snakes or wild old men. I wonder if succeeding at that was the buried seed of all the rest. In my little-boy heart I felt heroic and I knew that if they found us or touched her I would kill. 104
            After a mugging in Atlanta that brings him low, Frank finds his sister who is about to die of prolonged blood loss as a result of experiments done on her by her employer, a eugenicist doctor trying to invent a new speculum. As he carries her off the doctor screams for help but finds that his other employee, Sarah (who had written Frank the letter telling him to come quickly) is willing to stand up against him:
“Call the police, woman! Did you let him in here?” Dr. Beau then ran down the hallway, to where another telephone sat on a small table. Standing next to it was Sarah, her hand pressed firmly on the cradle. There was no mistaking her purpose. . . . Sarah and the doctor stood locked in an undecipherable stare.  111-112
Once Frank had fumbled and eased his way through the front door and reached the sidewalk, he turned to glance back at the house and saw Sarah standing in the door, shadowed by the dogwood blossoms. She waved. Good-bye—to him and Cee or perhaps to her job. Sarah stood from a moment watching the pair disappear down the walkway.” 112
            Cee needs nursing, a course of healing undertaken by a group of women in their hometown. And the final treatment that will stand Cee back on her own feet requires that she lay down:
She was to be sun-smacked, which meant spending at least one hour a day with her legs spread open to the blazing sun. . . . What followed the final sun-smacking hour, when she was allowed to sit modestly in a rocking chair, was the demanding love of Ethel Fordham, which soothed and strengthened her the most. 124-125
The treatments work (in the meantime Frank has dealt with his own troubled mind, admitting an atrocity he committed in Korea, one which he has been denying and which has thus been haunting him):
Weeks later Cee stood at the stove pressing young cabbage leaves into a pot of simmering water seasoned with two ham hocks. When Frank got off work and opened the door, he noticed again how healthy she looked—glowing skin, back straight, not hunched in discomfort. 126
Together, Frank and Cee dig up the bones of the man they saw buried while watching the standing, fighting horses (the man was killed when forced to participate in the human equivalent of a dogfight while a crowd bet on who would win), take him to a place where they often found refuge as children, and rebury him in a quilt Cee has made:
Quickly they found the sweet bay tree—split down the middle, beheaded, undead—spreading its arms, one to the right, one to the left. There at its base Frank placed the bone-filled quilt that was first a shroud, now a coffin. Brother and sister slid the crayon-colored coffin into the perpendicular grave. Once it was heaped over with soil, Frank took two nails and the sanded piece of wood from his pocket. With a rock he pounded it into the tree trunk. One nail bent uselessly, but the other held well enough to expose the words he had painted on the wooden marker.
Here Stands A Man.
Wishful thinking, perhaps, but he could have sworn the sweet bay was pleased to agree. Its olive-green leaves went wild in the glow of a fat cherry-red sun. 144-145
            Where Morrison’s characters rise to this hopeful, if not final stance, Faulkner’s are brought low by natural forces (in their superstitious minds, unnatural forces):
Before us the thick dark current runs. . . . Above the ceaseless surface they stand—trees, cane, vines—rootless, severed from the earth, spectral above a scene of immense yet circumscribed desolation filled with the voice of the waste and mournful water. 95

I felt the current take us and I knew we were on the ford by that reason, since it was only by means of that slipping contact that we could tell that we were in motion at all. What had once been a flat surface was now a succession of troughs and hillocks lifting and falling about us, shoving at us, teasing at us with light lazy touches in the vain instants of solidity underfoot. Cash looked back at me, and then I knew that we were gone. But I did not realise the reason for the rope until I saw the log. It surged up out of the water and stood for an instant upright upon that surging and heaving desolation like Christ. Get out and let the current take you down to the bend, Cash said. 97-98

I see the bearded head of the rearing log strike up again, and beyond it Jewel holding the horse upreared, its head wrenched around, hammering its head with his fist. I jump from the wagon on the downstream side. Between two hills I see the mules once more. They roll up out of the water in succession, turning completely over, their legs stiffly extended as when they had lost contact with the earth. 98-99

            Morrison’s characters find themselves as a man and a woman when they return home after having left home to escape its stultifying influences. They find themselves by the grace of generous creators of community. They find their place as standing human beings who have fought and stood like the magnificent stallions they watched and not like the man brought low and buried in the same field by vicious men.
            Faulkner’s characters, with the partial exception of Addie, continued to be bullied by their lazy and manipulative father who will do anything (he turns his son Darl over to the police, he steals from Dewey Dell, he trades Jewel’s horse) to get what he wants (teeth and a new Mrs. Burden):
Then we see it wasn’t the grip that made him look different; it was his face, and Jewel says, “He got them teeth.” It was a fact. It made him look a foot taller, kind of holding his head up, hangdog and proud too, and then we see her behind him, carrying the other grip. . . . 181

In her turn as narrator, Addie describes thinking about Anse and his empty, lifeless, incapable version of standing:

Why are you Anse. I would think about his name until after a while I could see the word as a shape, a vessel, and I would watch him liquefy and flow into it like cold molasses flowing out of the darkness into the vessel, until the jar stood full and motionless: a significant shape profoundly without life like an empty door frame; and then I would find that I had forgotten the name of the jar. . . . And so when Cora Tull would tell me I was not a true mother, I would think how words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other; and that sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words. Like Cora, who could never even cook. 116-117
Where mentally disturbed and mistreated Darl Bundren is left to muse: “How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home” 52, Frank and Cee Money fight their ways home, family, brother and sister.