Transmigration of Dexter to Dragonfly
Dexter's Contexture ~ The Array of Threads that Weave
the Fabric of this Vision ~ Homespun by the Darning Need

Home ~ Punctuating Remarks


"The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

Since first published in May of 1802, reprinted editions of "A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress" sit prominently upon the shelf aside our vast endowment of local historia. A work singular in its taste and ingredients, with readership beyond the provincial "see port" community of Newburyport known as the Waterside, "Pickle" is embraced by generations of the Knowing Ones, though it is denigrated by minds of lesser credence or confidence.

An independent thinker who penned his epistles at the turn of the 19th century, Dexter composed his oft amusing musings about Life and living during the epoch known as the Age of Reason ~ which he himself reasoned were "gessing times." Dexter plied his philosophic passages to the Knowing Ones with the caveat that his guess was as good as yours, yours as good as his, and ours as good as theirs ~ adding a challenge to "any man or men on the gloube to Exseede me as to what I have Rote in my Littel book, and what I can Rite Consarning Nater and the sole and the frame of man I am the old plane Tim to see any felosofer in the world Ime Lord Timothy Dexter, First in the East, First in the West, and the gratest felosofer in the Western world."

In its analysis, Dexter's anthology remains more than a documentation of his "thorts & axsions" at that moment: The compendium captures the very essence of existence which caused Dexter to consider, "I want to know what a sole is I wish to see one … I thinc the sole is the thinking part." "Pickle" prompts the Knowing Ones to ask good questions and always question the answer. And to wit, anyone of the Knowing Ones might well ask the good questions ...

Was Dexter an eccentric or egotist? Sage or fool? Humorist or hubrist? In "Pickle," he offers a discourse that flows like a jagged stream of consciousness. Within its few pages, we learn about the author but more about ourselves --- or as his Lordship would say, we "larn abote houeman Nater." With uncanny insight and sincerity, this profound prognosticator points to a worldly future and hints at a "hevvnly" destiny with great hope and expectation.

Written by the farmboy who, as Fate would have it, would become a nouveau riche horticulturist with a fondness for exotic flora ~ Dexter's "Pickle" still propagates seeds of thought from his fertile mind, seeds which germinate in today's "gardings." If cultivated, these will bloom into timeless whims of thought and thoughtful whimsies about that physical and that metaphysical. For the Knowing Ones, his "Tempel of Reason" will stand erect for posterity, with his Lordship serving as both an icon and iconoclast ~ a part of the whole, and apart from those dour detractors who know him not.

A few lines from the closing paragraph in Emerson’s essay “The Poet” might suit here: “O poet! … The world is full of renunciations and apprenticeships, and this is thine: thou must pass for a fool and a churl for a long season. This is the screen and sheath in which Pan has protected his well-beloved flower, and thou shalt be known only to thine own, and they shall console thee with tenderest love. And thou shalt not be able to rehearse the names of thy friends in thy verse, for an old shame before the holy ideal … Thou true land-lord! sea-lord! air-lord!"


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