I was pruning a rose bush two years ago, which I had never done before. It was raining and I was meditatively thinking about how a plant only has so much biological energy to support so many buds and blossoms and how branches need to be cut away for it to really bloom and how that was like such a great metaphor for things in one's life and blah, blah, blah... Then suddenly it hit me — the rosebush is not the metaphor. We are. The rosebush is real. It was demonstrating a real set of functions. Our social consciousness, our culture and habits, these were the metaphors. It was all backwards.
In Zazen I relied heavily on the language of geology and how it's easy to look at it and think, metaphor. But geology is as real as it gets. I tripped over the geological language by freewriting Della's voice. It perfectly reflected her own crisis because, geologically speaking, we're always on the precipice of annihilation. Always have been. When's that devastating earthquake coming? Anytime between five minutes from now and the next 10,000 years. That's a geological second. So, through that lens, the lens of "deep time," everything is damn near eternal and everything is now. How can you live like that? That's part of what Della has to figure out. To quote good old Vladimir Ilyich: "What is to be done?" Apparently in my book the answer involves sex parties and bombs and topographical mapping.
The box-mall-church is a construction with which Della is obsessed. She maps the parking lot the way one would map a section of rock, in 10-foot sections. Seen from above some parking lots look like this:
Photo credit Corbis / SuperStock
Photo credit leinaDoli
Other parking lots look like this:
I wanted to write in a way where the metaphor was not the point but the platform, the jumping off place. I wanted the natural world to be bigger than ours. I wanted to use the language of time.