more than 95 theses


A journal, commonplace book, and Wunderkammer by
Alan Jacobs.

My blog on technologies of reading, writing, and knowledge is called Text Patterns; I am an occasional contributor to the Technology channel of The Atlantic; I'm a Contributing Editor for The New Atlantis. Also, I tweet.

My biography of the Book of Common Prayer has now been published by Princeton University Press, and I’ve created an associated tumblelog.

My critical edition of W. H. Auden’s long poem For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio is now available.

My next book will be about Christian humanism in a time of total war.

I invite you to a meditative encounter with my online project The Gospel of the Trees.

Please consider supporting this tumblelog by buying some of my books. I will thank you, my family will thank you, and the internet — surely — will thank you.

”Reverting to Type: a Reader’s Story”

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

The Age of Anxiety, by W. H. Auden — a critical edition. A PDF of my Introduction to the poem is available online.

Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant

Original Sin: a Cultural History

Looking Before and After: Testimony and the Christian Life

The Narnian: the Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis

Shaming the Devil: Essays in Truthtelling

A Theology of Reading: the Hermeneutics of Love

A Visit to Vanity Fair: Moral Essays on the Present Age

What Became of Wystan: Change and Continuity in Auden’s Poetry

  • October 19, 2012 8:14 am


    Consider forest fires. Until late in the twentieth century we were told by Smokey Bear that “only you can prevent forest fires,” which by implication could only be bad for nature. In the past fifty years, we have learned that many forest species, plant and animal, have evolved with, adapted to, and actually require forest fires. The great Sequoias of California, one of nature’s longest-lived creatures, can reproduce only after a clearing takes place in a forest from storms or fire. Recognizing this, many ecologists and foresters understand that forests need fire, need disturbance. But forest fires are tricky things; they easily get away and burn houses. Still, if we don’t light them, nature eventually does, and destroys houses anyway.

    Why do our ways of managing and conserving nature keep falling back to the old ways of thinking? One reason, ironically, is that it isn’t nature by itself that needs to be unchanging; it is our civilization that depends on constancy. When humans were just hunter-gatherers without a permanent home, they could follow the environment as it changed, moving around the world to places that better suited them. But then farming started, and people began to stay in one place. Land ownership developed. With the advance of civilization, cities were founded and became important and desirable. Once people set up all these fixed structures — farmlands, cities, and towns — we became dependent on environmental constancy. It is we who want and need a balance of nature, not our nonhuman companions, whether polar bear, the blue whale, or sequoia tree.


    OUPblog » Blog Archive » The myth of a constant and stable environment. A fascinating and illuminating essay.

    1. ayjay posted this