Cynthia Haynes’ Favorite Workspace
Cynthia Haynes is Professor of English and Director of the Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design PhD program (RCID) at Clemson University. She holds a BA in German, MA in Humanities, and PhD in Humanities (Rhetoric, Composition, and Critical Theory) from University of Texas at Arlington. Her recent awarding winning book, The Homesick Phone Book: Addressing Rhetorics in the Age of Perpetual Conflict, is the result of a lengthy engagement with the rhetorics of violence.
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I stare out the window more than I work, but I do work here in Geiranger, Norway, several times a year when we visit our farm. The view is idyllic. I count waterfalls, sheep, and traffic jams on the hairpin turns in my view. My husband built this desk over 30 years ago, built for two to work side by side. Today I’m reading for teaching Histories of Rhetoric in the fall semester, starting with Presocratic Philosophy. Then Heidegger’s Parmenides awaits. Sitting like one of those mountains that thrust up from the fjord as some ancient glacier receded into the sea. The fjord is the color of glacial sediment, a kind of teal color. And it’s deep. Like Heidegger’s Parmenides.
Thought comes easily at this workspace. No need to conjure it, or seduce it to visit me. The folds of the forest-filled inclines remind me to keep the flow going, as do the wakes of fishing boats and the occasional exhaled spouts of small whales. The remoteness of this place and the historically rugged life of its people situate me inside histories that remind me to honor those lives, to spend/spin words as carefully as they spent/spun the wool of sheep to cover their beds, to warm their bodies in long arctic winters.
Essays can provide the kind of elemental needs that readers have, though like this idyllic place, it is a readership that wants surprise, beauty, danger, and endless flow. More thought. More raging waterfalls. More love, more light. As Empedocles wrote:
And even as when a man thinking to sally forth through a stormy night, gets him ready a lantern, a flame of blazing fire, fastening to it horn plates to keep out all manner of winds, and they scatter the blast of the winds that blow, but the light leaping out through them, shines across the threshold with unfailing beams, as much of it as is finer; even so did she (Love) then entrap the elemental fire, the round pupil, confined within membranes and delicate tissues, which are pierced through and through with wondrous passages. They keep out the deep water that surrounds the pupil, but they let through the fire, as much of it as is finer. (fragment 84)
Burnet, John. Early Greek Philosophy. s.l.: s.n., 1920.