WALTON AND THE REST OF US
I cannot, this morning, think of anything with as fine or more useful a title of anything than Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler. It speaks to me of what can be the wholeness of the angler, of his style, and his accomplishment-- for whatever he fishes. We angle for many things in our lives. I angle for your favor as I write this.
Even the archaic spelling, the “eat” for the modern “ete” helps to secure my meaning. I think of one who is compleat as one who is an anomaly, strangely and unusually one of a kind, unexpected, counter to the regular plan for things. Wonder is loaded into the word.
I awoke this morning thinking of a friend for whom I have difficulty finding an explanation. How can she be as she is…? How can one be as altogether excellent as she and yet believe and think so differently from what I would wish of her?
The word anomaly comes to my rescue. She is an anomaly. And, to be an anomaly, I think one must somehow be compleat in Walton’s way. She is compleat unto herself, whole and accomplished. She is not responsible to me, to my understanding, or approval.
I wonder if anomaly in humans may have begun to show up back on the edges of time in those old folks of ours on their long trek out of Africa. I wonder if there was not, one strange day, one terribly toughened woman, who, suddenly compleat enough in herself, may have decided to press on farther into the perils of the unknown, or, thought it best to remain right where she was--or perhaps, more radically, to turn around and take her people back home…. She was inventing the world and a politics for it.
The subtitle of Walton’s great book is, “The Contemplative Man’s Recreation”. I read in this that the angler, he who angles in all the world’s variety, is re-created in his life of contemplation. And that re-creation is the great reward of his contemplation. And so, he finds his way to completeness, ever re--created.
Piscator insists that our Richard Brautigan, aka “Trout Fishing in America”, is our Izaak Walton.
It teases me out of thought.
I give up.