In the opening chapter of his sluggish celebration of the timeless and the universal that he insists is to be found below the surface of the everyday, first-time author Kinseth suggests that his readers "". . .be drawn forward into these pages as if rafting effortlessly downstream."" The advice is more easily given than acted upon; most readers are likely to have leapt overboard and started dog-paddling for shore long before journey's end. A resident of Des Moines, Iowa, Kinseth uses his explorations of a midwestern river as a frame on which to hang his musings about what used to be called ""the great chain of being."" Drawing from, among other sources, eastern philosophies and pantheism, the author describes his growing awareness of the oneness of all creation--from the croak of a frog to the explosion of a supernova is a short leap in Kinseth's cosmology. Properly handled, this could be an inspiring, if less-than-original, view. Unfortunately, although Kinseth describes his approach as ""incantatory,"" many readers are likely to find it merely logorrheic. Sentences ramble on in tangles of meaningless metaphors (""A plant is a star in the earthstream""); strained analogies (""my open eyes hang like dead idols in a reliquary""); self-consciously fine writing (""And yet, to complete ourselves, we do not travel as much to distant worlds as to that which we distance from ourselves""). Frequently, Kinseth's use of personification is strained--""You put your car to sleep high on a hill,"" for example, and interspersed with the pseudo-Whitmanisms are such dogeared phrases as ""the tip of the iceberg,"" ""alive and kicking,"" and ""keep our heads above water."" When Kinseth writes, ""I am not seeking an answer as much as I am trying. . .to remain awake,"" many readers will know exactly how he feels.