MonkeyThe Monkey Grammarian,
Octavio Paz, ( 1962-1968 Mexico's Ambassador to India )

grammar | nature | wisdom


"… they are the reverse of what is seen and of the power of sight–but they are not invisible: they are the unsaid residuum."

p. 49.


"And the end–it too fades away to nothingness"

p. 1.

"I shall succeed in reducing this grove of trees to a catalogue.

p. 47.

Forest"If these trees were to suddenly start walking, they would destroy everything in their path. But they choose to remain where they are, they do not have blood or nerves, only sap and instead of rage or fear, a silent tenacity possesses them. Animals flee or attack; trees stay firmly planted where they are. Patience the heroism of plants."

p. 3.

A page of tangled plant calligraphy. A thicket of signs: how to read it, how to clear a path through this denseness? "

"Phrases that are liane that are damp stains that are shadows projected by the fire in a room not described that are the dark mass of the grove of beeches and aspens lashed by the wind some three hundred yards from my window that are demonstrations of light and shadow based on a vegetable reality at the hour of sunset whereby time in an allegory of itself imparts to us lessons of wisdom which the moment they are formulated are immediately destroyed by the merest flickers of light or shadow which are nothing more than time in its incarnations. . . . "

p. 49.

"Reading considered as a path toward . . . . The path as a reading: an interpretation of the natural world?"

p. 47.

"the difference between human writing and divine consists in the fact that the number of signs of the former is limited whereas that of the latter is infinite; hence the universe is a meaningless text, one which even the gods find illegible. The critique of the universe is called grammar...."

p. 47.

Scrolls from ancient Rome

"Yes, I am well aware that nature–or what we call nature: that totality of objects and processes that surrounds us and alternately creates us and devours us–is neither our accomplice nor our confidant."

"It is not proper to project our feelings onto things or to attribute our own sensations and passions to them. Can it also be improper to see in them a guide, a way of life?"

"as if all this liquid light were a seething substance. . . . "
"Fixity is always momentary."

"Each metamorphosis, in turn, is another moment of fixity succeeded by another change and another unexpected equilibrium."

grammar | nature | wisdom


"Wisdom lies neither in fixity, nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two."

"A constant coming and going; wisdom lies in the momentary. It is transition."


"Transition is not wisdom, but a simple going toward . . . .Transition vanishes: only thus is it transition."

Parts, 1-2.

Galta, Rajasthan, India

Octavio Paz, one of two essays while in India

grammar | nature | wisdom

liane, liana a woody or fibrous stem that climbs among the tree branches in such forests where competition for the light encourages the climbing vines to grow into the canopy above.

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