Meno, Socrates’ fresh victim in Plato’s “Meno”, is (as Solnit rightly points out) Royally kerfuffled by our Master of Reasoning. But not entirely before he, Meno, utters his infamous paradox, which Solnit uses to introduce her theme in Chapter One.
Oddly, she doesn’t acknowledge that this initial (and, one presumes, central) quotation is a paradox. “How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?” This genuinely is unanswerable.
Perhaps Solnit is deliberately kissing reason goodbye, because Chapter Two–the first of the Blue Distance chapters–is full blown impressionism; her apparent native dimension and tongue.
I think that impressionistic prose is at its best as a sort of sub genre to poetry. Like poetry, it requires the author to sort of be willing to abandon both reason and [literary and societal] tradition (even if these are returned to). It gives pleasure in and with its loveliness (even very dark loveliness), and passages of this chapter are truly lovely.* Impressionistic prose flies nowhere near as high as poetry, though.
It seems I’m going to write stuff here chapter by chapter. Sorry.
*Helene Cixous and other European feminists I can’t remember by name use impressionism as a weapon, but that’s another story.