Tuesday, August 04, 2009
"The door to the past is a strange door. It swings open and things pass through it, but they pass in one direction only. No man can return across that threshold, though he can look down still and see the green light waver in the water weeds."
- Loren Eiseley, "The Snout," The Immense Journey
Before Watson and Crick, but first in my affections!
Loren Eiseley, Lewis Thomas, Konrad Lorenz, Robert Ardrey, - these are the authors I was reading in the late Sixties and early Seventies at the time I went back to school to indulge in all the Philosophy courses I could manage.
Loren Eiseley seems passe now, as far as the library is concerned at any rate. He was still searching for the Secret to Life when he wrote about the endless mysteries in his own experiences, and meditating on the long past.
An anthropologist, an imaginative naturalist and a master of prose and poetry, Loren Eiseley fired my imagination and my searching soul.
"When the human mind exists in the
light of reason and no more than reason,
we may say with absolute certainty
that Man and all that made him
will be in that instant gone."
From his Biographical Notes.....
"Loren Corey Eiseley was born on September 3, 1907, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Eiseley learned much from his parents, both of whom were descendants of pioneers. From his mother, Daisy Corey, an amateur artist, he gained an immense appreciation for the beauty of natural structures and creatures. From his father, Clyde Edwin Eiseley, once an itinerant Shakespearean actor, he acquired the sensitivity and expression of a poet. In addition, the Plains environment in which he spent his childhood stimulated his interest in anthropology with its salt flats, ponds, and the mammoth bones and fossil collections of the University of Nebraska museum.
The difficulties of the Depression led Eiseley from work in a chicken hatchery and sporadic attendance at the University of Nebraska to the life of a drifter and rail-rider, to fossil hunting and an academic career in science..... Loren Eiseley died on July 9, 1977"
Eiseley described himself as 'the fox that sits at the edge of the woods'.....
He was admired by W.H. Auden, described as a modern day Thoreau, and yet the discoveries of recent times have dimmed his light.
Only his "Immense Journey" sits on my shelves these days, - I have passed on to family all his other books, hoping to share with them his wisdom and philosophy.
But as I run my hand along the shelves, looking for something to read, invariably I pause at Loren Eiseley, and if I don't slide the book from the shelf I make a mental note to come back soon and read the wonderful natural philosophy he writes with such eloquence.
At the same time I was reading Eiseley 'The Life of a Cell" by Lewis Thomas was not far from my hands.
One of his quotes....
"The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science, along with behaviour control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers."