Thursday, September 03, 2009
Happy Birthday Loren Eiseley
It's the birthday of Loren Eiseley, (books by this author) born in Lincoln, Nebraska (1907). He was an only child with parents who fought constantly. His father moved from job to job and worked long hours, so he was rarely at home. His mother was mentally ill and almost deaf. His best friend in elementary school suddenly stopped associating with him, and he found out many years later that the friend's family had made him end the friendship because Loren's family was so strange.
He found solace outdoors and in books. His family lived on the edge of town, so he wandered around the prairie, caught frogs in the pond, explored caves. When he was five years old, his much older half-brother Leo came to visit and read him a few chapters from Robinson Crusoe, and then left the book behind. Loren knew the alphabet and he knew a few words, and so he taught himself to read from Robinson Crusoe. After that, he biked into town to visit the library, and read constantly. He went on to become a college professor. He wrote poetic essays about biology, evolution, technology, and ecology. His most famous book is his first, The Immense Journey (1946).
He wrote: "Sometimes of late years I find myself thinking the most beautiful sight in the world might be the birds taking over New York after the last man has run away to the hills. I will never live to see it, of course, but I know just how it will sound because I've lived up high and I know the sort of watch birds keep on us. I've listened to sparrows tapping tentatively on the outside of air conditioners when they thought no one was listening, and I know how other birds test the vibrations that come up to them through the television aerials. 'Is he gone?' they ask, and the vibrations come up from below, 'Not yet, not yet.'"
photo lifted from UPENN Gazette
text lifted from The Writers Almanac