The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass
Edward O. Wilson, Robert Hass
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“Enchanting. . . . The Poetic Species is a wonderful read in its entirety, short yet infinitely simulating.” —MARIA POPOVA, Brain Pickings
In this shimmering conversation (the outgrowth of an event co-sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History and Poets House), Edward O. Wilson, renowned scientist and proponent of “consilience” or the unity of knowledge, finds an ardent interlocutor in Robert Hass, whose credo as United States poet laureate was “imagination makes communities.” As they explore the many ways that poetry and science enhance each other, they travel from anthills to ancient Egypt and to the heights and depths of human potential. A testament to how science and the arts can join forces to educate and inspire, this book is also a passionate plea for conservation of all the planet’s species.
Edward O. Wilson, a biologist, naturalist, and bestselling author, has received more than 100 awards from around the world, including the Pulitzer Prize. A professor emeritus at Harvard University, he lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Robert Hass’ poetry is rooted in the landscapes of his native northern California. He has been awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award (twice), the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award. He is a professor of English at University of California-Berkeley.
Park City, on the banks of the Hudson River. Last year, sixty-five thousand people visited Poets House, and over five million were introduced to Poets House via its new website and national partnerships. For more information about events, and Poets House in general, visit poetshouse.org and join Poets House on Facebook and Twitter. THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, founded in 1869, is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses
of knowledge, redefining partnership as a value (Fraser, 123) as we consider the fate of the earth. Much joint energy created this cooperative public space for generative thinking. Nancy Hechinger introduced me to Lisa Gugenheim, senior vice president of institutional advancement, strategic planning, and education at the American Museum of Natural History, and Bella Desai, director of public programs and exhibition education. I thank each of them, knowing that the museum’s willingness to
consequences of group selection favoring altruism—group cooperative behavior—and selfish behavior within the group, trying to get the best we can within the group. And may I suggest that we’ve now come up to the borders of the humanities. HASS: Well, we’ve come to a place where the dance of the tension between these two things must constitute something of what we mean by consciousness, by the experience of having choice and free will and moral life. A productive oscillation between a social self
on most of us, and it means another revolution for human thought. —Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell, 1974 The Poetic Species A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass Contents Foreword Bibliography The Poetic Species Appendix The Fish Acknowledgments About the Authors FOREWORD O let them be left, wildness and wet; Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet. Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Inversnaid” EDWARD O. WILSON has called Homo sapiens the poetic
left on national parks. I visit and consult on Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, which was badly damaged during the 1977–92 civil war. I’ve recently traveled to the South Pacific to study national parks and reserves there. In the course of this work, I’ve been supporting and collaborating in a complete survey of the animal species, including a vast array of insects and other arthropods. I’m also part of a group from around my hometown of Mobile, Alabama, working to create a new national park