Thursday, June 29, 2023
#180 / Jill Lepore Tells Us What We Owe
Writing in the May 29, 2023, edition of The New Yorker, historian Jill Lepore tells us "What We Owe Our Trees."
In short, pretty much everything.
One good way to orient yourself in the world is to find individual persons whom you trust, and then to listen to what those persons say - and take their advice. Our parents, when things go right, are persons like that. Of course, that doesn't always turn out to be the case. Some people don't have parents like that. Each one of us, though, if we are paying attention, will come across persons whom we believe are worth emulating, worth taking seriously. In the past, I have made mention of my "Five Guys." That's an example of what I am talking about. Today, I want to add to the list.
I majored in American History when I went to college, and I have come to believe that Jill Lepore, an American historian, is a person upon whom I can rely. If she writes something, and I learn that she has written about it, I read it.
I think my first mention of Lepore in this blog was in 2013 - in a posting titled, "Privacy And Publicity." My most recent mention of her (besides this current blog posting) was in February of this year, in a posting titled, "Are We Getting Closer To The End Of History?"
There is a short answer to that question. There is no "End to History" until there is an end to all of us, since it is human beings who "make history" by what we do - and by what we think, and by what we say - and by our lives entire.
In her relatively recent New Yorker article, Lepore tells us that our human civilization (and we ourselves) "came from the trees." She is worried that we might not realize how profoundly we have always depended upon trees, and how profoundly we continue to depend upon them - and how we may, in fact, disappear ourselves, while trees live on.
Lepore references, particularly, Richard Powers' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Overstory. I have written about The Overstory, too - and more than once.
I recommend that readers of this blog posting read Jill Lepore, and The Overstory, and that they read Lepore's article on "What We Owe Our Trees."