Loren Eiseley wrote about the search for meaning and the origins of humankind in a series of popular books spanning the 1950s through the 1970s. That’s the same period when Sigurd Olson was active. In fact, Sigurd saw his own work as having a similar goal as that of the University of Pennsylvania anthropologist, but for a more mainstream audience. “I must bridge the gap between Eiseley and my audience of common people, the non intellectuals…who feel deeply but are groping for ideas,” Sigurd jotted in a note to himself in 1960.
Eiseley enjoyed Sigurd’s work, too. In 1969 he sent Sigurd’s editor this unsolicited praise for Sigurd’s new book, Open Horizons:
Mr. Olson is the spokesman for woodlands almost gone, for the unbeaten trails that were once all wild America. He is that rare and altogether exceptional writer who magically conveys upon the printed page the age old writing once only to be found in a wolf’s tracks.
The two met in Washington, D.C. in 1965, and in 1966 they both served on the National Park Service’s advisory board. (Sigurd had joined the board in 1959 and was stepping away; Eiseley was just beginning his term.)
the search for meaning
I’ll undoubtedly include more Eiseley quotes in the future. This one is from The Unexpected Universe:
Mostly the animals understand their roles, but man, by comparison, seems troubled by a message that, it is often said, he cannot quite remember, or has gotten wrong. Implied in this is our feeling that life demands an answer from us, that an essential part of man is his struggle to remember the meaning of the message with which he has been entrusted, that we are, in fact, message carriers. We are not what we seem. We have had a further instruction.Loren Eiseley
Photo: I’m at Denali National Park.
This post belongs to the gold section of the singing wilderness spiritual map.