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Recent Notepad:

Notepad

The Value of Dystopia

Image by Jonny Hughes/Flickr

In response to Michael Solana’s “Stop Writing Dystopian Sci-Fi—It’s Making Us All Fear Technology,” which had inspired “We Need Dystopias Now More Than Ever.”

Solana’s essential message is, “Technology is our salvation, so why do those pesky Luddites keep trying to challenge progress and scare us?” Science fiction, like life, has always contained both utopian and dystopian themes, optimism and pessimism. If dystopias are suddenly overrepresented — which I think is untrue — it’s probably worth asking why they’re so popular, and maybe even trying to learn from them.

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Gathering Material

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I keep meaning to finish something new. Soon.

Image: Muskrat gathering grasses. To eat? Line her burrow? Make something special?

Dead Horse Bay Poem

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By the sea I found
An old glass bottle.
On its mouth the wind
Whistled an old, old song.

A Bed-Stuy Wilderness

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Recently I read of a neighborhood group who dedicated themselves to restoring their local outdoor space, a stretch of weedy canal-side land kept blissfully free from further development by pollution. They were, explained the article, making ecological improvements. Before-and-after photographs showed volunteers tromping on tall grasses and plants, and later tending to a few Home Depot-style outdoor shrubs planted in a barren bank of mulch. Continue reading

The Improbable Bee

How does a bee find a flower? Perhaps, if it lives in a hive, another bee tells it where to go, but even that first bee needs to find the flower, and anyways most bees are solitary. Continue reading

A John McPhee Coincidence

One winter morning two years ago, I visited my favorite bookstore. It was — past tense, as it closed that spring — a cozy place that struck just the right balance between old and new, rare and common, the sort of place you visit to just be around books. Every few weeks I’d go in the hopes of finding something I’d overlooked on all my other visits … which, inevitably, was the case.

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Spring Birds & Photography

Of late I’ve felt ambivalent about my own photography. As Juhani Pallasmaa wrote in The Eyes of the Skin, we’ve elevated sight above the other senses; we regard the world — see the world, in that telling metaphor for understanding — in a disproportionately visual way, diminishing our other senses and the fullness of lived experience.

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Image

Monarch Butterfly, Dead Horse Bay