If there’s one website I never seem to tire of, it’s Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. “A subjective lens on what matters in the world and why”, Popova’s curation of articles are consistently thought-provoking and inspirational (to the point where my Twitter feed is replete with pieces from her site!) A place of intellectual, creative, and spiritual exploration, Brain Pickings is what I aspire Ekostories to be. While I write through an environmental lens, I am striving to emulate Popova’s approach, to draw insight from a range of disciplines and convey a connective whole. One recent article that caught my eye was titled Art & Science: Leonard Shlain on Integrating Wonder and Wisdom. As someone who has spent his life moving between these two modes, I was naturally intrigued by what Shlain, a surgeon, had to say. Popova highlights a series of illuminating quotes from the book – I would like to share some of them with you today:
“You are our history. We are perhaps your future. I want to learn, not ignore. It is the reason I came. We must know each other. We are not primitive men. Our morality is no longer tribal, it cannot be. Such ignorance is a wrong, from which wrong will arise. So I come to learn.” – The Dispossessed, p. 75 Welcome to the final part in the series exploring one of my favourite novels: Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. You can read the previous entries here: Part 1 – Crossing the Wall: The Dispossessed Part 2 – Urras and Hope Betrayed Part 3 – Anarres the Promise Kept In this last piece, I’ll touch on the theme of reconciliation that runs through the novel and look at one of its key recurring image: the wall. Finally, I’ll explore how the idea of the promise, as expressed by Le Guin’s ideas and embodied by the protagonist Shevek’s actions, has implications for my own personal journey in forging a meaningful and fulfilling life.
I recently came across this short film created by a group called the Planetary Collective and was immediately captivated by what astronauts, philosophers, and authors described as the “Overview Effect”: A full piece exploring the ideas and themes of the film will be up on Ekostories in a few weeks. I wanted to share this now because the group is doing a Kickstarter for a full-length feature titled Continuum that is due in a week or so, and I figured they could use some exposure. If Overview is any indication of quality, Continuum is going to be one fascinating and thought-provoking documentary. You can learn more about the project at The Planetary Collective Presents: Continuum.
The Sagan Series: Redefining the Frontier While researching for my recent entry on Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, I came across this Vancouver TEDx conference talk presented last November. Reid Gower, one of the millions inspired by the late scientist’s groundbreaking series Cosmos in the 80’s, recognized the potential of Sagan’s storytelling ability to resonate with a new generation. In the Sagan Series, he extracted short powerful narratives from the audiobook version of Pale Blue Dot and combined them with modern imagery and music. The result is a series of videos that are deeply inspirational and soul-stirring. They embody Sagan’s earnest desire for humanity to understand the fragility and appreciate the wonder of “this mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam”, the pale blue dot we all call home. The following chapter in the series, End of an Era: The Final Shuttle Launch, is my favourite: The rest of the chapters can be viewed HERE at the Sagan Series.
As someone fascinated by worlds real or fictional, I was ecstatic to hear about the landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. News of the successful touchdown represents a great triumph for the downsized agency and helped to rekindle my own interest in looking to the heavens. I sometimes have trouble communicating my passion of the cosmos to others. People occasionally ask: Why is space exploration important? As an environmentalist, shouldn’t you deal with all the problems we have here on Earth before worrying about the stars? What good is it all? Fortunately, there are other much more capable and articulate communicators out there to address these legitimate questions – People like Carl Sagan. One of the world’s most well-known astronomer, astrophysicist, and science popularizer, Sagan’s ability to captivate millions with his Pulitzer-winning Cosmos and the subsequent TV series of the same name is no small feat. It takes an extraordinary storyteller to distill esoteric knowledge down to digestible form and transform it into meaningful and inspiring messages for people of different ages and backgrounds. …