Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Kevin Dann's "Expect Great Things"

Historian, naturalist, and troubadour, Kevin Dann is the author of ten books, including Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge; Across the Great Border Fault: The Naturalist Myth in America; and Lewis Creek Lost and Found. He has taught at Rutgers University, University of Vermont, and the State University of New York. In the spring of 2009, he walked from Montreal to Manhattan to commemorate the 400th anniversaries of Hudson’s and Champlain’s voyages, and, having crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, decided to stay there.

Dann applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Expect Great Things: The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Expect Great Things opens: “Thoreau’s move to Walden Pond on the eve of his twenty-eighth birthday would be a destiny event that would ripple through the rest of his life, and down through Time into the hearts of Americans and people from all over the planet.” That statement comes in the context of my attempt to look at Thoreau’s life through the lens of 7-year rhythms – a rhythm that was just then being recognized and intensively studied by natural scientists.

Thoreau’s life was “all about rhythm.” He both practiced a yoga of rhythm in his daily extended walks and meditations, and studied the variegated rhythms of the plants and animals of Concord. He was a pioneer – and peerless – phenologist. (Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life) If the 19th century was the century of mastering history, in the sense of the rapid refinement of the natural historical sciences from paleontology to evolutionary biology, it demanded a correlate grasp of the “beats” of Time. Thoreau’s life embodies the birth of a new awareness and appreciation of rhythmicity in both Nature and human nature.
Visit Kevin Dann's website.

--Marshal Zeringue