Day 348 6/18/14: Liberation, Extinction & the Power of Jill Clayburgh

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Summer school starts next week and I am supposed to be reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s book “The Sixth Extinction” and although I know it will be a well-researched, well-written book, I am avoiding it because I am happy right now in a state of forgetting. Forgetting that we are living through a mass extinction by remembering fragments of  a movie I just watched: “An Unmarried Woman” from 1978.  I am still channeling the weird chunky aesthetic of that time—how many things seemed woven and hippie,(chair backs, art objects) and also oddly preppy—women’s tailored jackets and miscellaneous plaids mixed with futuristic (silver picture frames and lamps). All of these designs carry emotions—hope for the future, a belief in tradition, in the safety and humble things of earth, and my own adolescent memories of art teachers who struggled to make me understand the horizon line and the mothers of friends, women who to my eternal befuddlement had once loved The Beatles, but by the late 70s embraced Anne Murray or Kenny Rogers.

I am thinking of how old movies return one to lost parts of the self. I remember how the red marquee letters spelling AN UNMARRIED WOMAN rose above  the Daniel Webster Highway as my mother and I drove  south to Massachusetts and how the red words made every movie seem like a potential scandal like THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH and I remember thinking, “What is it that unmarried women actually do?” Now I know that answer has something to do with cats and volunteer work, but then it felt drenched in sex.

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Day 239 2/19/14: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

9780805092998_custom-ce72d9f30660107dc01a119cafb41a38ac7afe31-s2-c85“Amphibians have the dubious distinction of being the world’s most endangered class of animals,” Elizabeth Kolbert writes. “But also heading toward extinction are one-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all fresh-water mollusks, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles and sixth of all birds.”

I really enjoyed (if enjoy is the word for such a book) “Field Notes from a Catastrophe,” Elizabeth Kolbert’s book on climate change. I am eager to read her latest work “The Sixth Extinction.”  Check out Kolbert’s recent interview  with Terry Gross in which she discusses taxi-cab yellow frogs, ocean acidification, disappearing bats and the latest science on the state of the planet.