How happy is the little Stone

That rambles in the Road alone,

And doesn’t care about Careers

And Exigencies never fears—

Whose Coat of elemental Brown

A passing Universe put on,

And independent as the Sun

Associates or glows alone,

Fulfilling absolute Decree

In casual simplicity—

Emily Dickinson

This is a hearty attempt at describing the rock. I believe she wants to learn how to be like a rock, because honest things are always good company. Yet there is no leaf or rock or bone that does not have some rhetorical force, something that sways the blade of grass one way or the other. There is no real complete stillness, no perfect vacuum for Newton’s Laws to find their absolute truth. Honesty doesn’t exist, except in the imagination or in spiritualism.


The entire world is in flames,
the entire world is going up in smoke;
the entire world is burning,
the entire world is vibrating.
But that which does not vibrate or burn,
which is experienced by the noble ones,
where death has no entry–
in that my mind delights. (Saṃyutta Nikāya 1.168)

Honesty is a lofty goal, one that would be very dangerous to achieve without some protection or isolation.

What we can hope, as most humans cannot undertake a path to being like a rock as it really is, is to set one who is bent one way to be a little more straight, (or bent in the way needed for the moment), not with honesty or saying things just as they are, but with rhetoric.

Buddhist texts are very rhetorical. The Buddha describes the texts as like a raft that you leave behind when you have reached Ultimate Truth.

People really expect a lot of their friends (and rocks as they are experienced) if they want honesty.

Aristotle would say that the formation of a rock “acts out,” imposing its form on the world. But it is not only a bodily, or “thinging” influence. The acting out of a rock is not different from rhetoric, and I am sure Aristotle would disagree with me here.

Rugged individualism, or the term “well, actually …” or FYI (For your Information) have their own brands of rhetoric disguised as honesty. (and mathematics of course, especially mathematics. on this fact, I could speak forever)

What rhetoric doesn’t have this disguise?

This offering I hope will help to see the lie that objects are more honest than people.  A scientist will say, for example, that Nature is a matter of competition and adaptation, and then you will find yourself in a company of people competing with each other and trying to adapt their personalities to be powerful or fearless or whatever, all because this scientist tried to say the truth about Nature. He was trying to be honest (his intention, but still not the truth), and the effect of his trying to be honest was only and always rhetorical. Whether this rhetorical effect is good or bad should be the first question. The ethical status of your words is the foundation, not some appeal to objects and Nature, as if such things were honest.

My attempt to show the lack of truth in Nature has used 3 metaphors so far. Rhetoric is like the wind that blows grass, Rhetoric is like a fire: color, and quality in its most elemental sense. Also Rhetoric is like water, the flood we use the raft to cross.

The shore and the raft are earthy things, a metaphor for truth used by the Buddha, is rhetorical. It is not so that earth is not rhetorical, and Dickinson shows this is so, whether she wanted to or not. It is a poetic puzzle… to describe a rock from the heights and limits of language that is poetry.