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Friday, February 27, 2009

Thought is a Vector

In the course of his memoir, The Philosopher and the Wolf, Mark Rowlands applies his theory of ‘externalism’ to a pet wolf he kept called Brenin. Rowlands believes that mental processes happen not just in the head, but are embedded in our surroundings. Thoughts are a vector, generated not just by the thinker but the object of contemplation too: ‘there are certain thoughts that can emerge only in the space between a wolf and a man.’ Tim Robinson thinks in, with and through the landscapes he describes. Taking his maps, the two volumes of The Stones of Aran, his other essays and fiction, and now this trilogy as one unified whole (and they seem to me to benefit from being read as such), these separate units add up to perhaps the single most impressive writing project undertaken in Ireland in the last several decades.


For my attempt to back this statement up, I refer the curious to a review I have of Tim Robinson’s Connemara: The Last Pool of Darkness (and from which I’m quoting here) in the new issue of The Stinging Fly.

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