New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Thinking Small

July 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Family, Nancy Mattina

“Go to the Ant, O Sluggard”

by Nancy Mattina

Thinking small doesn’t come naturally to an American. Even in straightened economic times we urge ourselves incessantly to swing for the bleachers, reach for the stars, be ready for the big break. In the Far West, our daily landscapes conspire with our propensity to dream large. We get ten-gallon-hat ideas about life and liberty whether we are hiking above the clouds in the Rockies or streaking across the limitless deserts in our half-ton trucks.

With just an average amount of human imagination, it is easy to extract a can-do spirit from towering volcanic cones, glaciated valleys, and great canted slabs of the Earth’s crust. Never mind what must be done merely to survive, the preoccupation of all of the non-human species that surround us. We yearn to be so much more than mere survivors. (more…)

Deepening the Time Scale

September 28, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Walt Anderson

An Evolutionary Puzzle in Southern Arizona

by Walt Anderson

Though each organism is inherently a time traveler, its genes a partial chronicle of its evolutionary history, we may be the sole species to be able to reflect on that deeper history.  People with deep imaginations can visualize the ape in our behaviors, the prototypical vertebrate in our embryos, the symbiotic merger reflected in our mitochondria.  Some can look at a hillside and envision it as a product of tectonic upheavals, erosional incisions and depositions, the lithification that turned sediment into rock that has weathered into a substrate supporting juniper, cactus, and spiny lizard.  With some training, there is hope for those of us who don’t normally see so well.  Our temporal blinders may be lifted, our spirits uplifted by the joys of discovery and insight.  Informed imagination — that greatest of time machines — can take us further toward understanding the Sky Islands than mere physical descriptions ever will.  Join me, then, for a little time travel, not to see it all (who has time?), but for a sample of how informed imagination works… (more…)