"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

02 July 2017


The Beast God Forgot to Invent begins with a caution, “The danger of civilization, of course, is that you will piss away your life on nonsense.” It is, importantly, not a certitude but a danger. I found it clear, in his works, that Jim Harrison relished opportunities to partake in the best that civilization had to offer. Natural land is central to his writing and his persona but ultimately he was about living life fully. Based on how he wrote about life I’d say he consumed it. But the opportunity to consume life as opposed to just getting through is fraught with its own pitfalls.

The caution about civilization is reframed later in the story. “Like any other mammal I am trying,” the narrator tells us, “moment by moment, to think of what I should do next.” The thing is, most mammals are still wild animals. For them that decision is pretty straightforward. It is for the rest of us that the decision carries particular weight, and room for folly. Jim Harrison was an imperfect but powerful guide for that reckoning.

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