As A March Hare is my sixtieth birthday gift to myself, an island and a planet. It’s essence and distillation of Annie, all the angels and all the demons.
‘March’, my mother’s birth-name, which I took by deed poll in 1988, means ‘dweller on the boundary’, and celebrates not just my foremothers but the centripetal role of edges in my life. I’m fascinated by thresholds and liminality; the hourglass ways between the inner and outer worlds – valves, cervices, causeways, hinges, wormholes; the nature of boundaries from the osmotic to the impregnable; and the qualities of good gatekeepers, midwives and guard-geese. Who’s inside? Who’s outside? By what pusillanimity and failure of cultural imagination do we displace and lock up not just ‘criminals’ but the young, the old, refugees, the mad, animals and wilderness?
As for March hares, they dance spring and sexuality and wildness. If that’s crazy, it’s also much more truthful than contemporary culture. “I own,
I consume, therefore I am,” isn’t just a paltry way of being human, it’s ecocidal. We’ve vandalised, squandered and poisoned so much of the future that I’m ashamed to look my children’s children in the eye. They’re enslaved before they’re even born, and, assuming they survive, will be cleaning up our middens for generations.
We must re-imagine, very quickly, what it means to be human and radically embody that in the way we live. Key structures might include: ecological footprinting and accountability as mandatory for every individual, community, enterprise and state; a total ban on hazardous substances, since there is no ‘away’ in time or place for their disposal; rigorous limits to human population; work redefined to value not vandals and pillagers but those who create, heal, teach, care for households, tend lifekind and make peace; technology and economics as handmaids of ecology; and above all, the recognition that true wealth, safety and freedom lie in salty-clean seas, pure air, clear rivers, living forests, rampant biodiversity and rich tilth.
Writing is a peculiar and solitary occupation. Every morning I dive off the edge into the void, except it’s not: it’s intensely, richly alive. Words enthral me, yet
I suspect that human communication in all its joyful complexity is only a subset of a universal language that might include music, DNA, mathematics, whales, forests, dreams, colour and galaxies. Words are both potent and limiting. I wish I could constellate this book as an ecology, a palimpsest, a chord, a double helix…
As a way of honouring the primacy of fiction in my work, I’ve chosen to follow each essay with brief ‘interludes’ from a trilogy-in-progress, Marigold Dreaming, Butterfly’s Children, Kuru Kuyé. It’s in this fierce and joyful inscape that my real thinking takes place in maieutic harness with imagination. And as polemical ballast to my wilder fancies, a handful of letters to the editor of the Guardian Weekly are included in ‘Planetary Conversations’.
As A March Hare is a journey towards entelechy, the oak tree in the acorn, or what the Buddhists call ‘authentic enlightenment’. It’s a dendricity, a blossoming of detours, questions, fractals and interconnections.
Delve in. Delve out. It’s risky. It’s safe.
Take my hand.
© Text by Annie March
Preface “As A March Hare” , Walleah Press, 2011