So..........I'm picking up the accumulated clutter here in my dining room, office, bird sanctuary, and exhibition space and what should I find but a dog-eared copy of Loren Eisley's "Immense Journey." It's a paperback with a torn blue cover and soft, yellowed, dog-eared pages. Its copyright is 1946, a year after I was born. This book was assigned reading for my freshman English class in 1963 and probably influenced me more than anything else I've ever read. I still enjoy opening it up randomly and reading a page or two Many of my paintings were inspired by those writings, but the biggest impact the book had on me was my view of the evolution of the earth and its inhabitants. I always think, too, of Miss Fife, my professor, a fifty-ish prim and proper lady who obviously had a lot more going on in her head than one would think by looking at her. I wonder what she would think if she knew how she affected my life...that shy, mousy, uncommunicative student slouching in the third row of desks, one of hundreds that no doubt passed through Miss Fife's classroom.
Well, when I saw the book this morning, I had to stop and read a few pages. No doubt the science of that time has evolved way beyond what Eisley took as fact (though I know he realized that new information would eventually bury a lot of the "facts" of his day). Still, basically it is his awe of nature and evolution that carries the book, along with his poetic writing.
"I do not think, if someone finally twists the key successfully in the tiniest and most humble house of life, that many of these questions will be answered, or that the dark forces which create lights in the deep sea and living batteries in the tropical swamps, or the dead cycles of parasites, or the most noble workings of the human brain, will be much if at all revealed. ......rather, I would say that if "dead matter" has reared up this curious landscape of fiddling crickets, song sparrows, and wondering men it must be plain to even the most devoted naturalist that the matter of which he speaks contains amazing, if not dreadful powers..........."