All posts filed under: Links

Links to interesting articles and videos connecting nature, culture, and identity.

Arctic Iceberg

On the edge, calling back: An interview with Barry Lopez

I had the recent pleasure of reading a great interview with Barry Lopez that I would like to share here on Ekostories. I’ve long admired Lopez’s writing; Arctic Dreams remains one of the most perceptive and spellbinding books I’ve read in recent years. In the interview, Patrick Pittman chats with the celebrated author on “ethics, hope, death, and the importance of good people in times that are not.” Lopez comes across as someone who has lived life deeply and reflected upon it a great deal, especially in the last stages of his life, but what I find equally interesting are Pittman’s probing questions on nature, writing, and legacy. I’ve included a few of them below: On the responsibility that comes with naming: “You write about places that are relatively untouched by the human hand. Of course, nothing’s untouched, but there’s an idea of land being at least unspoiled. In capturing these places, you make them a known place. There’s a danger in that; there’s got to be some sort of care and obligation when you write about these spaces.” On the perils …

Unless - The Lorax

The Lorax and Literature’s Moral Obligation

I recently came across a wonderful piece in The Atlantic exploring some of the ideas that have been rattling around in my head ever since I started Ekostories. Using Dr. Seuss classic The Lorax as a starting point, author Lydia Millet makes a case for the importance of activist-minded fiction. What role should literature play in voicing the great and pressing challenges of our time? Should it convey messages and courses of action? What constitutes preaching? What can transcend it? Here are a few sections that resonated with me: On the urgent need for eco-literature: “Shouldn’t the cascades of extinction and rapid planetary warming register in our literature? And yet, despite the fact that most Americans support the work of saving species from winking out, and increasingly support strong action to curb climate change, the highly rational push for the preservation of nature and life-support systems often appears in the media—and certainly appears in most current fiction—as a boutique agenda. Climate change is shifting that marginalization, but not fast enough.” On what makes the Lorax powerful: “What makes …

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin – A Documentary

Not that this needs any promotion from me, as the project seems to be on track to smash its funding goal after just two days, but I’m excited to share news of this Kickstarter campaign on a full-length documentary on Ursula K. Le Guin. Titled Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin and backed by the National Endowment of the Humanities, director and producer Arwen Curry is seeking the final bit of funding to complete her film exploring the 86 year old’s past, present, and enduring legacy. “Le Guin’s story allows audiences to reflect on science fiction’s unique role in American culture, as a conduit for our utopian dreams, apocalyptic fears, and tempestuous romance with technology. More than ever, we need to perform the kinds of thought experiments that Le Guin pioneered, to ask how we should behave as our technologies transform us beyond the wildest dreams of our grandparents.”  – Arwen Curry I’ve been following this project for a while, but it looks like it’s finally coming together. For more info about the campaign including those sweet …

Dulal Baje Nepal

Do You Understand? A Story from Nepal

A friend recently introduced me to Humans of New York, a photoblog with an enormous following on social media. Ranging from the mundane to the profound, these portraits and snippets offer brief but intimate glimpses into the worlds of others. They feed our collective craving for stories, personal tales, to hear and to share them. Not long after I came across an offshoot project called Stories of Nepal. As visitors to Ekostories might know, I’ve written a few pieces on my trip there in 2012, and even though I was in the country for all too brief a time, the people of that land have remained dear to me. Reading through some of their stories, one in particular resonated with me during this tail-end of the holiday season and calendar year. With the permission of photographer and translator Jay Poudyal, I would like to share it with you a passage by a farmer named Dulal Baje: “There was no animosity during our times. We were farmers. We were strong communities. We were families. No politics. Do you understand? …

Albatross at Midway

Midway: A Message from the Gyre

The trailer for Midway: A Message from the Gyre has been out for a few years now, but I only came across it last week. Even though I was familiar with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and knew about the plight of the albatross on this remote atoll, I was unprepared for Chris Jordan’s unflinching look at death and dying, of chicks bloated with plastics fighting for each breath, at beak and feather and sinew giving way to a grotesque nest of bottle caps and butane lighters, still discernable. It’s hard to watch: Midway is steeped in heartbreak and grief, as with so many environmental tales of our time. It forces us to face the reality of the situation, our complicity in this unfolding tragedy. Yet Jordan’s steadfast focus does not seem to linger on guilt, but rather revolves around awe. Pitching the film as “a love story for our time from the heart of the Pacific”, he also captures these birds in the full flight of life, wayfarers who spend most of their lives soaring …

Maple Trees Canopy

The Tolkien Ensemble: Treebeard’s Song

On more than one occasion, I’ve been tempted to write a feature on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The trilogy along with The Silmarillion is dear to me, a master feat of world-building and myth-making that remains unrivalled in scope and grandeur. (I remain one of the unfashionable few who enjoys the irreverent songs and lengthy descriptions) Even a cursory glance at the text reveals a host of themes and motifs ripe for an Ekostory exploration: The pastoral Shire threatened by looming machinations; the fading of the Elves giving way to the coming age of Men; the propensity of power to corrupt all with noble and pure intentions; the quiet courage of ordinary folk. And yet, I hesitate. So much already exists in terms of Tolkien scholarship – I don’t feel like I have anything original to contribute. The work speaks for itself. But while I may not be up for analyzing Tolkien’s magnum opus, I can at least express my appreciation for some small portion of it. It’s not quite autumn here yet, …

BBC Radio’s Adaptation of The Left Hand of Darkness

So this came into my feed: Adaptations to beloved stories are always risky. But having listened to the preview of what is undoubtedly the most moving passage in what is arguably my favourite book, I think they will do justice to the work. The words have changed compared to the first paragraphs of Chapter 18, but the haunting beauty of the scene is as I remembered it, back when I first lingered on each sentence, back when I first read it aloud in my writer’s group, and now as I recite it again in my mind. From memory (pardon the punctuation mistakes): “Sometimes, as I’m falling asleep in a dark and quiet room, I have for a moment a great and treasurable illusion of the past. The wall of the tent leans up against my face, not visible but audible, a slanting plane of faint sound. The susurrus of blown snow, nothing can be seen. The light emission of the Chabe stove is cut off, and it exists only as a sphere of heat, a …