Posts Tagged ‘desire and the lives of sparrows’

Synergy between science and poetry

June 30, 2008

Grrlscientist reviews Chris Norment’s deliciously titled Return to Warden’s grove: science, desire and the lives of sparrows:

This well-written book is a brilliant synergy between science and poetry. It describes the author’s highly personal journey to establish a connection to something beyond himself, to discover his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual “far country” in a world that felt less and less familiar and welcoming for him. But this book is also about the process of doing science, particularly the type of science that focuses on patiently observing and recording the details of the lives of animals in their natural environments — a dying “breed” of scientific inquiry in a high-tech world filled with cell and molecular biologists, it seems.

From at least this quote from the book that Grrlscientist highlights, it is not just the title of the book that is delicious:

One of the things I loved most about this book are the beautiful descriptions of those fleeting moments that I also experienced during my own dissertation work, the depth and richness of those moments, along with the intensity, the sheer poetry of his revelations;

Listen. When I cup a small bird in my hand and feel its heat, feel the thrum of its fear and the tiny pounding of its heart against my palm, it is impossible not to wonder. Or when I look into the umber silence of its eyes and imagine the paths of light and chemicals that bind us together (cornea and lens, retina and optic nerve, sodium and potassium, brain and neural network), it is impossible not to wonder. And when I am done with my measurements and I have written down the last of the numbers, I will open my hand, as if in supplication, and the bird will rise into the air. Then, too, it is impossible not to wonder — about the arc of its flight, the way in which the barbs and barbules of its feather vanes interlock, the lightness of its bones and very being and, most of all, its completeness. Connected as we are by the paths of history and genes — stasis and change, extinction and speciation, and the tangled necklaces of adenine and guanine, thymine and cytosine — it is still impossible not to marvel at its sheer otherness, and the way in which it makes its way through the world. [pp. 7-8].

I certainly would love a copy of the book — if it is available here (which I doubt — even the best book shops in Bangalore were not even aware of The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao, the last time I checked).