A Wise Guide on Our Immense Journey

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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part I of XII

“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, ‘It makes a difference for this one.’ I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.”
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part II of XII

“Man no longer dreams over a book in which a soft voice, a constant companion, observes, exhorts, or sighs with him through the pangs of youth and age. Today he is more likely to sit before a screen and dream the mass dream which comes from outside.”

Below – Edward Hopper: “New York Movie.”

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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part III of XII

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”

Below – The Arkansas River in Salida, Colorado.
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part IV of XII

“It is a commonplace of all religious thought, even the most primitive, that the man seeking visions and insight must go apart from his fellows and live for a time in the wilderness. If he is of the proper sort, he will return with a message. It may not be a message from the god he set out to seek, but even if he has failed in that particular, he will have had a vision or seen a marvel, and these are always worth listening to and thinking about…. One must seek, then, what only the solitary approach can give – a natural revelation.”

Below – From the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest: An image of the supernatural power which a human could gain through a vision quest.
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part V of XII

“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.”
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part VI of XII

“Some degree of withdrawal serves to nurture man’s creative powers. The artist and the scientist bring out of the dark void, like the mysterious universe itself, the unique, the strange, the unexpected. Numerous observers have testified upon the loneliness of the process.”

Below – Walden Pond.
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part VII of XII

“If it should turn out that we have mishandled our own lives as several civilizations before us have done, it seems a pity that we should involve the violet and the tree frog in our departure.”

Below – A chart of one hundred small animals that have recently become extinct.
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part VIII of XII

“The magic that gleams an instant between Argos and Odysseus is both the recognition of diversity and the need for affection across the illusions of form. It is nature’s cry to homeless, far-wandering, insatiable man: ‘Do not forget your brethren, nor the green wood from which you sprang. To do so is to invite disaster.’”

Below – Argos and Odysseus.
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part IX of XII

“Since the first human eye saw a leaf in Devonian sandstone and a puzzled finger reached to touch it, sadness has lain over the heart of man. By this tenuous thread of living protoplasm, stretching backward into time, we are linked forever to lost beaches whose sands have long since hardened into stone. The stars that caught our blind
amphibian stare have shifted far or vanished in their courses, but still that naked, glistening thread winds onward. No one knows the secret of its beginning or its end. Its forms are phantoms. The thread alone is real; the thread is life.”

Below – The Thread of Life.
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part X of XII

“Every man contains within himself a ghost continent.”

Below – Figures from the Ghost Panel in Horseshoe Canyon, Utah.
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part XI of XII

“The venture into space is meaningless unless it coincides with a certain interior expansion, an ever-growing universe within, to correspond with the far flight of the galaxies our telescopes follow from without.”

Below – Linda Wein: “Inner Space – Passage.”
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Notes of a Star-Thrower – Quotes from the Work of Loren Eiseley: Part XII of XII

“The creature was very young. He was alone in a dread universe. I crept on my knees and crouched beside him. It was a small fox pup from a den under the timbers who looked up at me. God knows what had become of his brothers and sisters. His parents must not have been home from hunting. He innocently selected what I think was a chicken bone from an untidy pile of splintered rubbish and shook it at me invitingly… the universe was swinging in some fantastic fashion around to present its face and the face was so small that the universe itself was laughing.
It was not a time for human dignity. It was a time only for the careful observance of amenities written behind the stars. Gravely I arranged my forepaws while the puppy whimpered with ill-concealed excitement. I drew the breath of a fox’s den into my nostrils. On impulse, I picked up clumsily a whiter bone and shook it in teeth that had not entirely forgotten their original purpose. Round and round we tumbled and for just one ecstatic moment I held the universe at bay by the simple expedient of sitting on my haunches before a fox den and tumbling about with a chicken bone. It is the gravest, most meaningful act I shall ever accomplish, but, as Thoreau once remarked of some peculiar errand of his own, there is no use reporting it to the Royal Society.”
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