“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.”
Loren Eiseley -American paleontologist and author of Darwin's Century, The Unexpected Universe, and the haunting memoir All the Strange Hours.
Loren Eiseley was born on the bleak plains of Nebraska in 1907, a haunted man who grew up in a haunted house, dominated by the stoney silence of a deaf, mentally unstable mother- a cosmic outcast whose etched sense ''aloneness in the universe'' infused his brilliant essays on science and man's place in the universe with a stark, terrifying beauty.
The literature of the American plains is largely a literature of suffering, madness, purification by fire and "bones under the sun, failed and buried lives" that Eiseley captured in his writing. His empathy with life in all its forms, and particularly with its lost outcasts -a ''the love that transcends the boundaries of species''- flowed from his recognition of the odds against any life in an indifferent and constantly shifting cosmos be it unearthing the skull of a long-dead Plains Indian to his description a dog washed up on a beach in Curacao, ''mingling the little lime of his bones with all else that had once stood upright on these shores.''
In his journals he wrote of our immense journey as a species that "eventually man would learn, to his humiliation, that his road was the road of other creatures, that it was marked with all the cryptic ambiguities which constantly beset the evolutionary pathway - that through these same rents and fissures, biological failures, or seeming failures, might tumble through the life-withholding mesh into paradoxical success."
Posted by Casey Kazan.
Related Galaxy posts: