absurdity is really just an event out of context, like anbeached whale. So the three hundred rabbits, younmight say, are really the natural outcome of ancontext, one so intricate that describing it mightnonly confirm me as a lunatic. To an inattentivenmind. But I am going to ask something more ofnyou. I am asking you to keep your eye on the rabbitnwithout forgetting the silk top hat from which thenrabbit must eventually emerge. Real magic, after all,nis the relationship — whether of love or of hate, Inleave to you—between the rabbit and the hat.nYou are wondering how I came to have threenhundred rabbits. It began, of course, with two.nAny reader’s expectations for a word from the defendantnthat will acknowledge guilt or fault receives a sudden jolt.nMore is going to be asked of us. Instead of drawing lines ofndefense between her values and those of the jury, thisnspeaker draws us in; we find ourselves welcomed by thenpleasant, intelligent, imaginative voice. We were not preparednfor the narrative shift from fault to rabbits, includingnus as “attentive” minds and establishing a context thatnfocuses on relationship rather than sleight of hand (realnmagic, after all, is a relationship). Even the syntax provides andouble negative in the second sentence, forcing one tonreread to establish relationships within the sentence. SuchnGREAT TOPICS, GREAT ISSUESnCultural Amnesia—Septembern1991—Jacob Neusner on the lossnof knowledge and its consequences,nGeorge Watson on thenrole of the literal man, AnthonynHarrigan on the importance ofndreams and reveries, and TheodorenPappas on the meaning of the NewnWorld Order. Plus Frank Brownlownon Dinesh D’Souza’s IlliberalnEducation, Jack D. Douglas onnthe sex studies of Alfred Kinsey,nand Lorrin Anderson on thenpolitics of television docudrama.nLife on a Small Planet—Octobern1991— Garrett Hardin on whyngood fences make good neighbors,nJacqueline Kasun on populationncontrol and the environment, andnRichard D. Lamm on the role ofnculture in determining nationalnsuccess. Plus Chilton Williamson,nJr. on the politics of writingnhistories of Columbus, ThomasnMolnar on capitalism and EasternnEurope, and Florence King onnJonathan Agronsky’s MarionnBarry.nBACK ISSUE ORDER FORMnEach issue $5.00 (postage & handling included)nTITLE DATE Qty. CostnCultural Amnesia September 1991nLife on a Small Planet October 1991nName AddressnTotal Enclosed SnCity State ZipnMail with check to: Chronicles * 934 N. Main Street * Rockford, IL 61103n30/CHRONICLESnnnbreaking of preconceived boundaries is unsettling, but thenpromise in these opening words is of a voice which relishesnpleasure and relationship.nNo city built on an abstract hill here; the rabbit warrennunder Arden Benbow’s property mirrors the warren ofninterrelating voices and attentive readers built by the narrative.n”Earthquakes,” a geologist explains in the novel, “arendynamic reactions against prolonged inactivity.” Manynpeople, he says, “like to think the earth is a finished product,nwhile there’s really no such thing. Earthquakes remind us.”nIn a cultural environment trained to regard its survival asnbeing dependent upon lines drawn in the sand, earthquakesnare nevertheless inevitable; earthquakes are the result ofnongoing change intruding upon a world of perceivednpermanence. Chicano writers. Native American, and WesternnAmerican writers generally — to mention only thosenwho are the subject of this essay — have been forced inton”prolonged inactivity” by such lines of demarcation. A booknlike Faultline plays with the inevitable interaction of thosenconflicting perceptions.nWhat I find striking in the literary and cultural environmentnof the last twenty years is the extent to whichnpreviously excluded voices are making themselves heard.nQuite obviously, that would not be happening were therennot as well an audience willing to listen. I do not attributenthis tendency both to speak and to listen to some kind ofn”political correctness,” but to the fact, as I have tried tonshow, that American narrative from its earliest roots strugglednwith the effort to integrate a sense of mission and anrelationship to the land. No single narrative embodies thenresult, but each contributes to the movement and change.nThe present essay has been shaped to suggest a largernnarrative at work in America, one which runs between thennarrative inscription of the early Puritan settlers, whichnexcludes despite its desire to establish contact, and annovelistic one like Sheila Ortiz Taylor’s, which welcomesnoutside voices and sees earthquakes as demonstrations ofnundedying energy rather than as shocks to a fixed reality.nInvariably, the “American” story is “Western.” A fewnyears ago, in a book entitled New Ground: Western AmericannNarrative and the Literary Canon, I sought to differentiatenbetween “Western” and “Eastern” narrative. I continuento be fascinated by the literature of the American West,nbut, contrary to the binary, sectional emphasis I gave to thatnwork, the narrative I describe here takes its characteristicsnfrom lines of inclusivity. If a line drawn in the sand in ordernto establish a “City upon a Hill” were the entire story, thennthe dangers of political, economic, and social exclusivitynwould be consistently with us. But Western writers — Silkonby her interest in the “relationship between the humannbeing and his or her surroundings,” Mary Austin andnLouise Erdrich by their “tracks” connecting human beings,nDoig by his reaching back to an individual life of commonninterests in the past, and Taylor by her rejection of lines thatndiscriminate — remind us that the “city” does not simply sitnupon a hill. It has a relationship to the hill, and takes many ofnits fundamental characteristics from the topography of thenhill, such as land formation, elevation, climate, and geologicnstructure. “Drawing a line in the sand” has multiplenmeanings and implications, and at its best. Western Americannwriting takes advantage of all that inherent potential.n<^n