Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

How is a novelist like a naturalist?

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Edward O. Wilson

A naturalist is a civilized hunter. He goes alone into a field or woodland and closes his mind to everything but that time and place, so that life around him presses in on all the senses and small details grow in significance. He begins the scanning search for which cognition was engineered. His mind becomes unfocused, it focuses on everything, no longer directed toward any ordinary task or social pleasantry…From time to time he translates his running impressions of the smell of soil and vegetation into rational thought: the ancient olfactory brain speaks to the modern cortex. The hunter-in-naturalist knows that he does not know what is going to happen. He is required, as Ortega y Gasset expressed it, to prepare an attention of a different and superior kind, “an attention that does not consist in riveting itself to the presumed but consists precisely in not presuming anything and avoiding inattentiveness.”

Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia

Written by nevalalee

September 21, 2013 at 9:50 am

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