Hailed as one of our finest writers about the American West, William Kittredge now brings all his experience and intelligence to bear on the wider, and wilder, West of our civilization. In certain respects, The Nature of Generosity continues the story of Hole in the Sky , the acclaimed memoir of Kittredge's early life on his family's vast ranch in Oregon; but it also ranges freely, and exhilaratingly, around the world and through recorded time.
A travel book of sorts--from New York and Venice to the Andalusian hills of García Lorca, from the cow towns of Montana to the caves at Lascaux--it is driven by the quest to reconcile childhood simplicities with the complex, urgent, adult questions about who to be, and how, and why. Drawing on our various histories--biological, cultural, psychological--Kittredge celebrates diversity as the cornerstone of our social possibilities, examines the freedom and responsibility this entails, and suggests that our culture's habitually selfish, combative behavior is far from being in our best interests--or, indeed, in our nature.
Less geographical than philosophical, at once learned and curious, observant and personal, The Nature of Generosity is a revolutionary, and practical, magnum opus.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: The Nature of Generosity|
|Release Date: 09-22-2010|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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The Nature of Generosity
The Old Animal
DUST LIFTED in slow streaks off the alkaline playa in the dry basin called Long Lake. Tiny orange and white flowers blossomed among boulders of black lava-flow basalt.
Ten thousand years ago, when the first humans came to the Great Basin highlands where I stood, Long Lake was part of a sweep of swamps and vast watery basins fed by melting glaciers. Waterbirds lifted to wheel and settle, refolding their wings. Their movements, to my dreaming, are a flowering of momentumin this, much like music.
At the end of a rocky two-track road, Long Lake is lost among the ridges rising from the east side of Warner Valley into an enormous run of uninhabited lava-rock and sagebrush highlands. I grew up believing there was nothing in the vicinity of Long Lake but shimmering distances.
Then, sixty-five years old, I found that I'd spent my boyhood near an ancient holy place. Over hundreds of thousands of years, the lava-flow ridge at my back had fragmented into intricate, smooth-sided boulders, which were everywhere inscribeddrawn on by ancient humans attempting to manage their luck and their fate. The inscriptions were particularly thick in places next to fractures, breaks where souls and spirits could be thought to have emerged from an underworld, and through which they might be fortunate enough to reenter.
Thousands of designs and figures had been pecked into the basalt surfaces with stone or bone tools, ranging from entropic (behind the eye) patterns of the sort seen in trancesgrids and dot complexesto discernible figures metamorphosing from moss to fish to men and women. Some were...