book cover with purple and pink colors

The Anthropocene Reviewed

A novelist writes memoir in code.

That’s something Allegra Goodman said that John Green quoted as inspiration in the introduction to the essay collection he published last year. Green is the author of several novels himself, including the 2012 The Fault in our Stars that was made into a movie of the same name. I knew him first, like many other Millennial internet-dwellers, from various educational video projects on Youtube, including several with his brother.

He took on a mix nonfiction-memoir project with The Anthropocene Reviewed, which takes on a few dozen wide-ranging topics with short reviews interspersed with his own life. I enjoyed his approach and admire the author so I have no worthy review. Find one here. Instead, I say go read it. Below I captured my favorite dozen or so of the many quotations he references throughout the book.

John Green introduces his book

My notes for the future:

  • Upon viewing the Paleolith Lascaux cave paintings in 1940, Pablo Picasso is said to have remarked, “We have invented nothing”
  • “The Baltimore Gas and Electric Company says it is withdrawing the ”scratch and sniff” cards it sent to 300,000 customers to alert them to natural gas odors after the effort led to false fire alarms.”
  • “Nothing can be so deceiving as a photograph” German-speaking novelist Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
  • “It is fortunate that each generation does not comprehend its own ignorance. We are thus enabled to call our ancestors barbarous.” American essayist Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900)
  • “The world is too much with us; late and soon,” begins a sonnet about the First Industrial Revolution by English poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
  • “When one of us says, “Look, there’s nothing out there,” what we are really saying is, “I cannot see.” American writer and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams (1955-) in Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
  • “A river is nature’s plotline; it carries you from here to there.” American history professor Maya Jasanoff (1974-)
  • “Light Light The visible reminder of Invisible Light.” American-born poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965),
  • Of sunlight: “We have really only that one light, one source for all power, and yet we must turn away from it by universal decree.” Annie Dillard (1945-) in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  • Pope John Paul II is quoted as saying”Out of all the unimportant things, football is the most important” but it may have been an Italian coach;
  • “My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes and oh my friends—It gives a lovely light!” American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
  • “Hope” is the thing with feathers; that perches in the soul” begins a lyric poem by American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
  • “Each member of a couple is separate; the two come together in double attention” Donald Hall wrote after the passing of his poet wife Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)
  • Herman Melville called white a “colorless all-color”
  • The West” is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire.” Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
  • “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” said American-Cuban-French essayist Anias Nin (1903-1977)
  • “Very little in history is inevitable” American author Margaret Atwood (1939-)
  • When People Say, “We Have Made It Through Worse Before”; all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones” American poet Clint Smith (1988-)
  • “The only way out is through” American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963)
  • “It’s been January for months in both directions” Iranian-American poet Kaveh Akbar (1989-) who also wrote “Art is where what we survive survives”
  • “I feel / as if I’m on the moon listening to the air hiss / out of my spacesuit, and I can’t find the rip. I’m / the vice president of panic and the president is / missing.” poet Paige Lewis
  • “History is merely a list of surprises” American novelist Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
  • “Respect is the most important thing you put into your camera” photojournalist Maggie Steber

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