2014-09-05

An Unnatural Revelation from Eiseley's "The Judgement of the Birds"

The Immense Journey, Random House (1956, 1957)
Recently I was referred to this passage from The Immense Journey (also the name of the LorenEiseley.info Twitter handle).

It deserves a re-read. Where Eiseley writes of the "worldwide radio network," substitute "internet." His observations are a revelation of sorts.

The world, I have come to believe, is a very queer place, but we have been part of this queerness for so long that we tend to take it for granted. We rush to and fro like Mad Hatters upon our peculiar errands, all the time imagining our surroundings to be dull and ourselves quite ordinary creatures. Actually, there is nothing in the world to encourage this idea, but such is the mind of man, and this is why he finds it necessary from time to time to send emissaries into the wilderness in the hope of learning of great events, or plans in store for him, that will resuscitate his waning taste for life. His great news services, his worldwide radio network, he knows with a last remnant of healthy distrust will be of no use to him in this matter. No miracle can withstand a radio broadcast, and it is certain that it would be no miracle of it could. One must seek, then, what only the solitary approach can give -- a natural revelation.

2014-09-03

Eiseley and Surrealism

In one essay, Eiseley imagines a scene around a question asked by a young student during an Eiseley lecture on evolution.
Instead of the words, I hear a faint piping, and see an eager scholar's face squeezing and dissolving on the body of a chest-thumping ape.. . . I see it then -- the trunk that stretches monstrously behind hin. it winds out of the door, down dark and obscure corridors in the cellar, and vanishes into the floor. It writhes, it crawls, it barks and snuffles and roars, and the odor of the swamp exhales from it. That pale young scholar's face is the last bloom on a curious animal extrusion through time . . . I too am a many-visaged thing that has climbed upward out of the dark of endless leaf falls, and has slunk, furred, through the glitter of blue glacial nights."

From The Firmament of Time, highlighted by Gerber and McFadden in their biography.