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The Sun Interview

The Voice Of The Earth

A Conversation With Theodore Roszak

Psychotherapists are accustomed to listening to their clients with an ear trained to hear subtle voices: those of the wounded child, the broken family, even the archetypal, collective unconscious. But historian, philosopher, and novelist Theodore Roszak believes therapists are deaf to the most important inner voice of all: the “ecological unconscious” — the voice of the earth expressing its own pain through our seemingly unrelated woes. Therapy, by and large, says Roszak, ignores “the greater ecological realities that surround the psyche — as if the soul might be saved while the biosphere crumbles.”

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Anna In The Aisles Of Plenty

In the early 1980s I met a young woman from Poland, a member of the Solidarity movement who was touring California as a sort of self-appointed, unofficial ambassador. Given conditions in Eastern Europe at the time, she traveled somewhat furtively, her pride mixed with a certain air of desperation.

Ceremony At Chews Ridge

We gathered in the Round House, a covered amphitheater dug into a hill, and sat on earthen benches. Four huge tree trunks in the middle of the room supported the wooden beams of the roof, which, like a tepee, was open in the center to the sky. Beneath the opening burned a large ceremonial fire.

Walking In Tierra Del Fuego

Several years ago, with my son and some friends, I hiked across southern England on a trail called the South Downs Way. The path traversed both private and public land, most of it open high meadows from which we looked onto rolling hills, forests, and farms. It seemed idyllic to me. But in the villages and pubs along the way, the people with whom I talked commented that the downs were much diminished. After expressing amazement that we were walking ten days to a place we might easily reach by car in one, they would set down their pints, wipe the foam from their upper lips, and shake their heads ruefully. “Ah yes, the downs aren’t what they were, ya know.”

My Day In Court

The lawyers are shuffling papers and nervously smoothing their ties. The clerks are talking about how chilly it is this morning. I check my watch impatiently, try to get comfortable on the hard wooden bench, glance again at the letter which informs me, as if I were an unruly student being summoned to the principal’s office, that I’ve been selected for jury duty, that this is the only notice I’ll receive, that if I fail to appear I can be held in contempt of court.

Fiction

The Flood

I wake up in the sodden pool of my own waste, harsh and stinking in the heat of the desert. Old men have loose bladders, I think, trying to deceive myself. But I know it is the wine. I do not know what time or what day it is or where my family is — but I know it is the wine. My tongue is smeared and swollen with its sweetness. There are bottles scattered around the tent.

Treadmill

Like a warm cloak, the mundane settled onto his shoulders. He pulled the edges of his days close around him, nestling into their routines. Each day was like the last, each a memorized beginning, middle, and end, no moments jarring like the sudden jangling of a doorbell, the shrill ringing of a telephone, the arrival of an unwanted package that required his signature. Every day had the delicious aura of the expected.

The Lurch

He stands naked at the end of his dock. His body isn’t used to the cold anymore, and goose bumps rise on his sagging skin. Years ago, when Emmet stood against the autumn breeze early in the morning, he could feel the air rush over every pore of his body, making the short gray hair on the soft spot of his neck stand on end, sometimes freezing the follicles inside his nose. He read somewhere, maybe in Esquire or Time, that swimming in cold water is good for the muscles and helps the mind relax. Now, watching the sun stagger toward the horizon and leaves drift down from the trees, Emmet isn’t sure whether it’s the water swaying or his body.

The Rain Maker

When my father was young, he loved his vegetable garden. He had reconstituted the soil from the bedrock up with lime, manure, and peat moss. As he dug the beds, wearing his only pair of blue work jeans, my two sisters and I played in the turned earth, finding bits of blue-and-white pottery the Dutch settlers used centuries ago. When the soil was ready, my father planted in neat, clean rows. He mixed a foul-smelling fertilizer for his corn and told us how the Algonquins had buried a fish head in each mound.

Readers Write

Waiting

One afternoon thrity years ago at my school in Fryeburg, Maine, I was seated in study hall when a girl hurriedly entered the room with a note for the monitor. Clearly it was not a tardy slip, for she didn’t watch his eyes for a response as he scanned the note. Instead she stood by his desk and looked mutely at us all. It was probably some sort of general announcement. Such bulletins were common, and I always enjoyed the interruption.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

We manipulate nature as if we were stuffing an Alsatian goose. We create new forms of energy; we make new elements; we kill crops; we wash brains. I can hear them in the dark sharpening their lasers.

Erwin Chargaff

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