Tag Archives: Native

you can’t say you can’t play


After putting Mac in this morning, I went to find a church in Prairie du Chien. The Episcopal service had been at 8:30 am (what are they thinking?!), so I headed over to one of the two Catholic churches in town, where I arrived just in time for the 10 am service, which was full of at least 350 people, maybe more. Given that each of the two Catholic churches has multiple Sunday services, it’s pretty clear this is a thriving community. And afterwards, I could not find open or functioning internet cafes anywhere within thirty miles, so I headed down to Guttenberg, and caught up on This American Life episodes in a park overlooking the river while waiting for Mac to arrive. One really interesting episode was about an experiment they did in a kindergarden at the Chicago Lab School, called “You can’t say you can’t play.” I figure it’s one of the slogans for this trip of mine. It’s definitely a compelling idea, not just for kindergardeners…

I also read this morning in an article by Alex Ross in The New Yorker that Theodor Adorno planned (but never wrote) an opera based on Huckleberry Finn. Can you imagine anything wackier?

In the afternoon, one of my oldest friends, Stephen Dembski, drove over with his student Becky from Madison, where he teaches, and the four of us took a walk at the very cool Effigy Mounds National Monument and then headed back to the same brewpub in McGregor for some more of their excellent Weiss beer. Effigy Mounds is very beautiful: turns out these burial mounds are found all over southern Wisconsin and into Minnesota and Iowa, remnants of an ancient culture of people who clearly spent a lot of time imagining what things look like from the sky. Dembski mentioned that the Native American name for Long Island is the name of a fish, because the island looks like a fish. But how do you develop that kind of geographic perspective by walking and canoeing around an island? I like thinking about the imaginative extrapolation involved with projecting the tiny details of land and sea in an overview that says: fish!