Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History

Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History

Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History

Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History

Synopsis

Acclaimed science writer Gould explores continuity in relation to environmental deterioration and the potential massive extinction of the earth's species. The sixth volume in a series of essays begun in 1974 and first published in Natural History magazine. Author lectures.

Excerpt

These essays, volume six in a continuing series, confront history on the broadcast scale of life's evolution during 3.5 billion years. Since macrocosms are fractals of microcosms, the series also records a personal history. in the sweetest introduction I have ever received (for a talk at the Academy of Natural Sciences in San Francisco) former major league ballplayer and current ecoactivist Bruce Bochte recounted my article on why Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak is the greatest accomplishment in the history of baseball (see Essay 31 in Bully for Brontosaurus). He then pointed out that I was working on a 208 monthly essay streak, also unbroken since its inception in January 1974. Over such a long stretch of adulthood, ranging from relative youth (in my early thirties) to distinct middle age (I just passed the half-century mark), many passages must be noted as the ineluctable changes of life unfold. Two aspects of ontogeny seem especially relevant to this continuing series.

First, Eight Little Piggies is a book of middle life, and it does contrast, entirely favorably I think (but I am no longer talking to my thirtysomething self), with my youthful Ever Since Darwin. I suppose that the major sign of this particular passage lies in my exploration of a traditional essay genre that I had previously shunned—the contemplative and highly personal ruminations in Section 4, "Musings." These essays, on memory, persistence, and authenticity, talk about the importance of unbroken connections within our own lives and to our ancestral generations—a theme of supreme importance to evolutionists who study a world in which extinction is the ultimate fate of all and prolonged per-

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