Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape. You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.
Sometimes I open a book and have a chill as I realize that the author understands me. He is sharing his life and understands my own. I feel as if I am touching a mind that is alive and speaking to my heart and my spirit. It is not just words on a page, but a living person conversing with me no matter how long ago the author lived or in what kind of world.
I have done other diaries years ago:
Bookflurries: Bookchat: Mind Touching Mind: Thomas Merton
Bookflurries: Bookchat: Mind Touching Mind
In college, we had an anthology with an essay by Loren Eiseley that got my attention and later I bought The Night Country. Through those essays, I identified with him deeply.
Years later, I bought All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life, a memoir; and The Innocent Assassins: New Poems.
From The Night Country, “The Gold Wheel”
Pages 4, 5
Noise is the Outside-the bully in the next block by whose house you had to pass in order to go to school. Noise is all the things you did not wish to do. It is the games in which you were pummeled by other children’s big brothers, it is the sharp, demanding voices of adults who snatch your books. Noise is day. And out of that intolerable sunlight your one purpose has been given-to escape. Few men have such motivations in childhood, few are so constantly seeking for the loophole in the fern where the leaves swing shut behind them. But I anticipate. It is in the mind that the flight commences. It is there that the arc lights lay their shadows. It is there, down those streets past unlit houses that the child runs on alone.“Paw Marks and Buried Towns”
Pages 79, 80
Many years ago, when the first cement sidewalks were being laid in our neighborhood, we children took the paw of our dog Mickey and impressed it into a kind of immortality even as he modestly floundered and objected. Some time ago after the lapse of many decades, I stood and looked at the walk, now crumbling at the edges from the feet of many passers.From All the Strange Hours
No one knows where Mickey the friendly lies; no one knows how many times the dust that clothed that beautiful and loving spirit has moved with the thistledown across the yards where Mickey used to play. Here is his only legacy to the future-that dabbled paw mark whose secret is remembered briefly in the heart of an aging professor.
The mark of Mickey’s paw is dearer to me than many more impressive monuments-perhaps because, in a sense, we both wanted to be something other than what we were. Mickey, I know, wanted very much to be a genuine human being. If permitted, he would sit up to the table and put his paws together before his plate, like the rest of the children. If anyone mocked him at such a time by pretending to have paws and resting his chin on the table as Mickey had to do, Mickey would growl and lift his lip. He knew very well he was being mocked for not being human…
And the moral of all this is that Mickey tried hard to be a human being. And as I stood after the lapse of years and looked at the faint impression of his paw, it struck me that every ruined civilization is, in a sense, the mark of men trying to be human, trying to transcend themselves.
Pages 140, 141
As we left, the leaves in the wood were red and coming down. It was, I think, the last time I saw Claude, though his professional papers came faithfully to me for many years. He was trying, no doubt, his own keys to the past. As for me, I have come to think I am moving in an endless extension of that single Kansas autumn. I am treading deeper and deeper into leaves and silence. I see more faces watching, non-human faces. Ironically, I who profess no religion find the whole of my life a religious pilgrimage. The origins of this hunger are as mysterious as the reasons why we, who are last year’s dust and rain, have risen from that dust to look about with the devised crystal of a raindrop before we subside once more into snow and whirling vapor. But, however that one autumn may still color my memory, life is complex; it changes, and my world was destined to change with it.The Innocent Assassin
The change was mixed with many things in my life-a growing disillusionment with some aspects of scientific values, personal problems, abrasive administrators, humanity itself. In short, the war had finally come to Kansas and transformed the pleasant, sleepy little town of Lawrence overnight.
Prairie SpringWiki says:
Killdeer screaming over the flowing acres
of bronze grass now the buffalo are gone
make a wide eerie silence. In the midst of crying
April has come but meadow flowers alone
spring up to greet her. No more the hooves will thunder
of bison moving northward in the spring.
No more the violet by wet black muzzles
will be cropped under-a long silence follows
after the flashing and exultant wing.
Loren Eiseley (September 3, 1907 – July 9, 1977) was an American anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer, who taught and published books from the 1950s through the 1970s. During this period he received more than 36 honorary degrees and was a fellow of many distinguished professional societies. At his death, he was Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and History of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.On my wish list, now:
He was noted as a “scholar and writer of imagination and grace,” which gained him a reputation and record of accomplishment far beyond the campus where he taught for 30 years. Publishers Weekly referred to him as "the modern Thoreau." The broad scope of his many writings considered such diverse topics as the mind of Sir Francis Bacon, the prehistoric origins of man, and the contributions of Charles Darwin.
Eiseley’s national reputation was established mainly through his books, including The Immense Journey (1957), Darwin's Century (1958), The Unexpected Universe (1969), The Night Country (1971), and his memoir, All the Strange Hours (1975). Science author Orville Prescott praised him as a scientist who “can write with poetic sensibility and with a fine sense of wonder and of reverence before the mysteries of life and nature.“ Naturalist author Mary Ellen Pitts saw his combination of literary and nature writings as his "quest, not simply for bringing together science and literature... but a continuation of what the 18th and 19th century British naturalists and Thoreau had done."
In praise of "The Unexpected Universe", Ray Bradbury remarked, "[Eiseley] is every writer's writer, and every human's human. . . one of us. yet most uncommon. . ."
According to his obituary in the New York Times, the feeling and philosophical motivation of the entire body of Dr. Eiseley’s work was best expressed in one of his essays, The Enchanted Glass: “The anthropologist wrote of the need for the contemplative naturalist, a man who, in a less frenzied era, had time to observe, to speculate, and to dream.” Shortly before his death, he received an award from the Boston Museum of Science for his “outstanding contribution to the public understanding of science” and another from the U.S. Humane Society for his “significant contribution for the improvement of life and environment in this country.”
Purpose for mankind
"In essay after essay," writes Wentz, "he writes as a magus, a spiritual master or a shaman who has seen into the very heart of the universe and shares his healing vision with those who live in a world of feeble sight. We must learn to see again, he tells us; we must rediscover the true center of the self in the otherness of nature."
The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley by Loren Eiseley, Kenneth Heuer (Editor)
This indispensable collection is filled with marvelous autobiographical glimpses of Loren Eiseley at different points in his life-as a young, inquisitive man during the Depression, as an astute archaeologist, as a blossoming writer, and lastly, as a world-renowned observer and essayist. Also included are poems, short stories, an array of Eiseley's absorbing observations on the natural world, and his always startling reflections on the nature and future of humankind and the universe.
I just ordered:
The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley, W. H. Auden (Introduction)
OverviewThe Unexpected Universe by Loren Eiseley
A collection of the author’s favorite essays and poems. This volume includes selections that span Eiseley’s entire writing career and provide a sampling of the author as naturalist, poet, scientist, and humanist. “Loren Eiseley’s work changed my life” (Ray Bradbury). Introduction by W. H. Auden.
Drawing from his long experience as a naturalist, the author responds to the unexpected and symbolic aspects of a wide spectrum of phenomena throughout the universe. Scrupulous scholarship and magical prose are brought to bear on such diverse topics as seeds, the hieroglyphs on shells, lost tombs, the goddess Circe, city dumps, and Neanderthal man.
A famous naturalist's encounters with the universe.
All the Night Wings by Loren C. Eiseley
Whose mind do you love to touch in books?
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Write On! Character soup.
Books That Changed My Life — 'The Golden Notebook', by Doris Lessing: or, Why I Write
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How to keep your e-book from wallowing in obscurity
Political Book Club: The Black Count
by Susan from 29
Contemporary Fiction Views: Jonathan Evison's novel of family loss and love
Robert Fuller says:
Chapter 5 of my novel "The Rowan Tree" has now been posted on my web site:NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early
I am also running another Goodreads Giveaway if any Kossacks would like to win a copy of the paperback:
Also, I just found something nifty - the "novels on location" app for Google Maps allowed me to pin various points of the journeys taken by characters in the novel. Readers can add tags and comments about the novel at the various pinned location. I'm excited about this feature because the novel's description may not convey it's global reach: