Adding to the (must) reading list: Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America
We are living in the eye of a great storm of extinction, on a planet hemorrhaging living things so fast that half of its nine million species could be gone by the end of the century. At my place, the teddy bears and giggling penguins kept coming. But I didn’t realize the lengths to which humankind now has to go to keep some semblance of actual wildlife in the world. As our own species has taken over, we’ve tried to retain space for at least some of the others being pushed aside, shoring up their chances of survival. But the threats against them keep multiplying and escalating. Gradually, America’s management of its wild animals has evolved, or maybe devolved, into a surreal kind of performance art.
For me, wildlife has always been a reminder of all the mystery that exists outside my own experience — out there, beyond the suburban rec room I felt trapped in as a kid, watching Wild America on PBS. There’s a special amazement that comes from watching a grizzly smack a salmon out of a river, or even from seeing just how hideous certain bottom-dwelling fish look. It enlarges your sense of the world, the way looking out from the top of a tall hill does.
"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young,
compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and
tolerant of the weak and strong.
Someday in your life you will have been all of these."
George Washington Carver
"Everybody’s got to reclaim these things - poetry, rock’n’roll, political activism - and it’s got to be done over and over again. It’s like eating: you can’t say,’Oh, I ate yesterday’. You have to eat again."
On the functional value of forgetting
From a Globe & Mail article about the right to be forgotten in the digital age come these observations regarding the role of forgetting in cognition:
“For almost all of human history, collecting information and storing information was time-consuming and costly, and therefore we stored as little as possible,” says Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, a professor at Oxford University and the author of Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the New Digital Age. “Even the stuff we stored we rarely made use of, because retrieval was so expensive.”
“Human forgetting actually performs a very important function for us individually as well as for society,” Prof. Mayer-Schönberger says. “It lets us act and think in the present rather than be tethered to an ever-more-comprehensive past. The beauty of the human mind and human forgetting is that, as we forget, we’re able to generalize, to abstract, to see the forest rather than the individual tree. And if we cannot forget, then all we will have are the individual trees to go by.”
To further illustrate the value of forgetting, Prof. Mayer-Schönberger points to Funes the Memorious, a short story by the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The title character, a boy who suffered a horse-riding accident, is incapable of forgetting and becomes lost in specificity: the creation of a new numeric system, the classification of his every childhood memory.
“To think is to forget differences, generalize, make abstractions,” Borges writes. “In the teeming world of Funes, there were only details, almost immediate in their presence.”
The source article, published in the Globe & Mail Newspaper, can be found here.
Tina & Ryan produce “The Great Discontent” <http://thegreatdiscontent.com/>. While cruising their site to find their contact info to make a query re: a project I have in the hopper, I came across this. Which, like the two of them, gets filed under A for Awesome.
"Mountains are fantastic examples of the power and mystery of nature, and the routes we climb on them are expressions of all that is best in the human spirit. Mountains and routes are only animated by our interaction with them, however, and it is the people we share the mountains with – the relationships we have with them – that are ultimately the most important."
Michael Kennedy, in his forward to Mark Twight’s Extreme Alpinism
How am I only now hearing about singer, LP? Yes, this is her covering Beyoncé. Trust me. Watch the audience - they are being taken somewhere transcendent.
"Anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours, and mine is breakfast."
Hunter S. Thompson (via Semi-Rad)