Thursday, August 18, 2011

As the Crow Flies

One widely recognized, if unofficial, unit of measurement is this one: As the crow flies. The distance between point A and point B is, let's say, 12 miles "as the crow flies" but maybe 20 miles as us poor humans are forced to go. The phrase makes implicit the distinction between abstract distance and practical distance (similar to the difference between Plato's perfect spheres and the poor replicas we have to work with here in shadowland). It recognizes, in a way, some of the inherent difficulties of being human. In a perfect world, I guess, the distance "as the crow flies" and the distance people need to travel would be equal, but down here in the nitty gritty world where people do their living, the crow has it made. We muddle along and do the best we can with what we have, and, while the route may be longer, sooner or later, like the crow, we get where we want to go.

Few places, I think, have such a great discrepancy between "as the crow flies" and how people go as the hills and hollows of Eastern Kentucky. There's no easy way to anywhere, and the hollows meander and take their time, turning this way and that, following the sloped contour of the earth down to the river bottoms that lead, sooner or later, to the sea. And that's a long, non-crow-flying way of getting to my point - that this story will not go "as the crow flies." I won't be following a linear progression. There's no straight line, chronological or otherwise, to where I'm going, only a winding back and forth, this way and that, here there and yonder, in a slow progression toward whatever it is that we're heading toward.

Hopefully, through the gradual accumulation of detail, an interesting story or set of stories will appear. Sooner or later, we'll get somewhere. You'll just have to bear with me. You'll have to take the long way around.

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