Homily Sticks, Ponder Panels, and Words of Wonder & Endearment
The illuminated wood writings of James L Hickey
Illustrated by Alicia Araya
In the course of its tumbling meander toward the sea, the rivers hereabouts cast up a practically limitless amount of cast-off wood, frequently as one sort or another of wooden needle. Beaver-bitten, human-hewn, or merely shaped by calamity and gravity and wind and water and stone into the classic shapes of daggers and handles of one sort or another, these forms are not what most passers-by would consider prepossessing. Often stuck in muck, covered with dirt and detritus, or moldy and buggy on the surface, these examples of nature’s short-swords often appear both common and homely.
Jim Hickey begs to differ. For many decades, he has collected samples of such items. Recently, he has begun to work the wood: cleaning it, sanding it, shaving it, developing the faces of the sticks so as to be more presentable.
He then lets the pieces sit, listening for what each one has to say until a semblance of sense emerges from a piece. After writing down and shaping these words, he burns them into the sticks: inevitably, some element of philosophy, morality, or intellectual investigation is what emerges, since even though he’s listening to the wood, the message is going through the ‘Jimbo Translator,’ which cannot help but bear the imprint of someone in love with words and ideas.
Alicia will often add touches of artistry to the words. Jim provides color and, as a final step, stains and finishes each piece according to what will both enhance and preserve a particular stick.
Although many of the sticks have holes and wire attached, adding potential functionality to the conceptual or aesthetic presence, others are freestanding or appear on finished bases. They all proffer some message—hence the ‘homily’—but mainly they are beautiful, natural sculptures that invite an appreciation for the infinite number of ways that time and tide craft gorgeous material for our contemplation.
This collection documents all of the texts that have gone on these magical pieces of driftwood, roughly separated into six different categories describing elements of all existence. We hope you enjoy these messages.
THAT WHICH ILLUSTRATES SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY, AND SEEKING KNOWLEDGE
The circle, or the wheel, represents an almost ideal metaphor for existence in the Cosmos: it is merely nearly perfect because, however striking are correspondences between past & present, no cosmic revolution returns all-that-is precisely to any prior point of origin.
Bloodthirsty wolves, brain-sucking zombies, flesh-feasting megabugs: much more diverting and entertaining are our psychic monstrosities than the panoply of the grotesque that we foster or tolerate through ‘rational’ evaluation, such as every flavor of chauvinism, the manifold and ubiquitous tortures…
of imprisonment and the varieties of mass collective suicide attendant on modern warfare
Our culture of victims and vengeance often manifests as fetishistic narcissism– a grand spectacle characterized by both obsessive assessment of fatuous official diagnoses and horrified fascination at the noisome toxicity that results from ‘therapeutic’ intervention: observer might liken the entire charade to a mandatory pool party where a marauding hungry leviathan discourages waders from leaving the shallows to plumb the depths of their complicity in their own disempowerment and irresponsibility.
“Without Exception, Every Human Cousin Starts As an Infant: Every Single God-Fearing Christian; Every Allah-Loving Muslim; Every Torah-Toting Jew; Every Nonattached Buddhist; Every Reincarnated Hindi; Every Wild Wiccan; Every Godless Atheist; Every Single Terrorist, & So on & So Forth, Establishing a Ubiquitous, Indisputable Biosocial Context the Dire Daily Reality of Which Ought to Require All Inquisitive Minds—With the Utmost Urgency & Diligence—to Inquire, ‘What Would Need to Happen to Induce the Far-Flung Members of Our Fractious, Factional Clan to Treat Each Other With Amicable Regard & Mutual Respect.”