About being attentive and taking the lot of things

Forfatter: C.Y. Frostholm
Forlag: Politisk Revy (Danmark)
TREES / Through a conversation with trees, the author of the book becomes clearer about his relationship to loneliness, vulnerability and the grief of the disappearance of things.


Imagine that you have only been addressing people for a long time, but then one day you turn to a leaf and then to the tree on which the leaf has been sitting. Now imagine that every tree has its history, there are rare trees, old trees, cool trees, social trees, anonymous trees. Imagine that people have written on some of these trees, as a greeting, from various families who lived there while the tree was growing. Imagine that there are places, for example in Lisbon, where an outdoor library makes people sit and read under the trees. Imagine that humans sit under a certain tree and have a conversation with themselves and the universe. That they feel a relief by sitting under this tree in the park. Or that this place in a suburb of London would be infinitely sad if you removed the tree. That certain trees cause grief when they are felled, such as the chestnut tree at Enhaveplads in Copenhagen. Imagine a writer visiting cities like New York, Paris, Copenhagen, London, staying at a hotel close to the tree he came across – and finding knowledge about a particular tree at the local museum or library, taking pictures , notes down, finds quotes from authors such as Pessoa, Thoreau and Calvino. And as he moves around, something happens to him, he sees his own life in a new perspective, as if turning to trees does something about him, his relationship with people, to the world. What's going on? He discovers that to exist, to find a place in the world is not something you choose or invent. These things are given, something man can become aware of and gradually discover.

To learn something about the oak rake, the roof tree and the pine forest.

To be a proper and living human being is not primarily about choosing this or that, but rather about being mindful: paying attention to trees, on earth, on others, on the world. Imagine all this, then you have a pretty good picture of CY Frostholm's hybrid of an essay story The Wood Museum, a book about experiencing nature and literature and writing about it. A marvelous collection of words and pictures (beautiful black-and-white photos of trees), diary notes, botany, travel reports, records and martial arts for a new type of attention to the non-human, in our anthropocene age.

Not glorification of nature, but conversation

A tree is a way to be plant. It is one and more at a time, a colony that you can split without killing, a super organism. But it's also an alphabet: "A tree is a library full of leaves of knowledge," writes Carol Mavor. According to some biologists, it is the life of the tree crowns that made us intelligent beings. Our life in the trees is woven into our civilization. Træmuseet is not, however, a preserving glorification and cultivation of nature, but an invitation to discovery and conversation. Trees and people are not the same. We should not humanize the trees, but preserve the different nature of the trees.

CY Frostholm

We must see language as an extension of nature, of the body, the senses, of the non-human. Literature's contribution to this conversation is to sharpen our awareness of what exists, but also a fundamental doubt as to whether it exists, whether the world exists, the way we see, sense and understand the world. An understanding that is again conditioned by our language usage, by other ways of naming things. Having a balance with trees is at Frostholm both a societal and an existential matter. We learn something about taking care of places and cities and each other by learning something about the oak grove, roof tree and pine forest. Trees are healing for vulnerable people and children. We also learn something about our own lives. Through a conversation with trees, he becomes more aware of his relationship to loneliness, vulnerability and the grief of the disappearance of things.

The poetics of gaze

To write is to gather things together; the words are like loose leaves, a leaping line of thought, and as you gather, you have the feeling that places and cities (for example Lisbon) grow around one. At the root of Frostholm's working method is the importance of visibility (Calvino), a way of looking, a way of being in the world, letting the narrator's gaze on fiction evoke landscapes in the reader. To read the city with the book that he writes. Here especially with Pessoas The Book of Restlessnesswhich sharpens his attention and adds a surprising calm.

Finding a place in the world is not something you choose
or inventor.

Through the French author Jean Gaston Alfred Ponge, Frostholm has learned to take the lot of things, that everything is on the surface. Happiness is found in turning to things, describing them again and again, from multiple sides, because thinking is a bridge between things. To think is to be among the things, to be carried.

Subscription NOK 195 quarter