22 August 2011

science and literature

ile038lunch. with cantaloupes. always. for some reason they don’t sell well, so the campground kitchen finds itself with an entire box of cantaloupes each day.  salads, main dishes, desserts, appetizers – everybody’s job is to finish those cantaloupes before they go bad.

ile039you already worked this morning, and you’ve got the afternoon libre. free. which means one one thing for you. bike. explore.

ile040this afternoon you’ll stay in the nord. past all the mustard fields, you cycle west to check out the ocean.

ile041past the vineyards.

ile042past the horses.

ile043you’ve arrived. time to sit. and just enjoy those hazy waves. and think.

ile044ever since the first day of training for the bénévoles, you can’t stop thinking about one particular conversation. [volunteers]

ile045everyone introduces their name. their age. where they’re from. their education. and their reasons for doing this stage. [internship]

it’s the background education part you like. medicine. art. acoustics. marine biology. literature. a spectrum of studies, many with no link whatsoever to science. in fact, that is the reason why you applied – because it was emphasized that no knowledge or experience was necessary.

ile046your chef [boss] isn’t at all surprised at the variety. “the biggest mistake in the french educational system was the separation between science and literature. all of the great naturalists were also the greatest artists. and all the great artists were also the greatest naturalists. it is a shame shame shame that french students are forced to choose between the two.”

ile047he continues, “and can you believe, there are people with degrees in biology, degrees in environmental sciences, degrees with honors – but they’ve never set foot in nature? they’re full of knowledge, but it is all useless if they’ve not actually ever been outside! which is why we’ve discovered the best volunteers are actually those who have never done formal studies. and also why we open this program to people of all different backgrounds, not just science ones.

you’re beginning to understand why they allowed such a clueless person such as you to volunteer.

ile048he could continue. but he doesn’t. there are other things to discuss with the new volunteer group.

ile049but days later, you keep thinking. about how right he is. after all, if you enjoy’s nature’s beauty – the colors, the forms, the shapes – but don’t understand the why and how… you haven’t got it. and if you understand all the why and how, but don’t appreciate the beauty, you haven’t got it either. one needs both science and the arts to really appreciate anything.

Back Cameraso how fitting is it, while being nosy and digging through the mini library at the reserve, you stumble upon a series of children’s books that perfectly combine science and art. instructive on the right, yet poetic on the left.

ile050at île de ré, it suddenly begins. your new obsession with poetry. you want to do nothing more than to just read.

ile052and at the same time, you’re also learning tons about the fauna, the plants, the weather, the history – everything. info you have to pass on to the public, as part of your job is being a tour guide.

ile051lyrics. poems. quotes. you’re no longer just thirsty for pretty sunsets. you’re thirsty for words as well. words that are capable of making you feel, rather than just describe.


passez la beauté
dansez les images
dehors c'est la nuit
dedans c'est la vie
demain c'est un fruit
arrondi et pur
qui mûrit sans bruit.

pierre boujut


donna said...

i am literally awestruck by the pictures here....the ones of the sea are amazingly lyrical to me......have you ever read poetry by Diane Ackerman?....she was friends with Carl Sagan.....if you are not familiar with either please do look them up.....she is a woman that has forged her own path....i love her work

cathy said...

not yet - but i will look her up for sure! thanks for the suggestion :)