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The Log from the Sea of Cortez
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Book of the Month > The Log from the Sea of Cortez discussion

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message 1: by Becky (new)

Becky Norman | 650 comments Mod
Please add your comments about The Log from the Sea of Cortez here.


message 2: by Iris (new)

Iris | 27 comments I found the iBook for $5.99 and began reading. I was surprised to learn that Steinbeck participated as a citizen scientist and diarist for this voyage. Marine science is not in my wheelhouse, I had to look up “littoral.” But Steinbeck has shanghaied me and I’m along for the ride with this month’s selection.


message 3: by Sarah (last edited Sep 17, 2019 06:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments I read this book a good 25 years ago and I'm enjoying reading it again. Steinbeck and Ricketts take you on the ship with them and you see Mexico and the tides pools in your mind from the writing. I think I would have done anything to go on that trip had I been alive at the time.
I've been on a Steinbeck kick of late and appreciate how he uses California as a character. The land and landscape is an important part of the story: in this case it is Mexico and the people there as well as the incredible life they find at low tide or off the side of their boat.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Iris, I too looked up "littoral" and I have been repeatedly looking up "teleology" {1. the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes 2. The doctrine of design and purpose in the material world} since he seems obsessed with the word, but I can't seem to wrap my head around the concept too well, but Steinbeck goes on about it so perhaps it shall sink in better as I progress. He talks of many things that make me think and wish I had others to sit around the fire, or on a boat with a scotch to debate them with.

Steinbeck also talks about how humans have hope and how it plays a part in our lives and evolution and that we might become extinct without it. "For if ever any man were deeply and unconsciously sure that his future would be no better than his past, he might deeply wish to cease to live. And out of this therapeutic poultice we build our iron teleologies and twist the tide pools and the stars into the pattern. To most men the most hateful statement possible is "a thing is because it is" Even those who have managed to drop the leading-strings of a Sunday-school deity are still led by the unconscious teleology of their developed trick. And in saying that hope cushions the shock of experience, that one trait balances the directionalism of another a teleology is implied, unless one knows or feel or think that we are here, and that without this balance, hope our species in its blind mutation might have joined many many others in extinction. "


message 5: by Morgan (new)

Morgan Fogelstrom | 6 comments Shoot, I am doing this book as an audiobook, but I have a feeling I should have picked it up to physically read. I thought with my fish and wildlife background it might not be a problem to just listen, but I really am more of a visual/manipulation learner. Oh well it was a free audiobook with a trial subscription so I'll give it a go anyway.


message 6: by John (new)

John R Nelson | 13 comments I like his idea that the same impulse drives one person to become a poet and another to study tide pools, and how he became so absorbed by his study of the "minutiae of the sea" that "the great world dropped away very quickly." Whether we study tide pools (like Steinbeck and Rachel Carson) or butterflies (like Vladimir Nabokov) or birds (in my case), it's the astonishing details of nature that lead us to what he calls the "depth, fundamentalism, and clarity" of non-teleological thinking, exemplified by Darwin. He also bears witness to the "prodigal" wastefulness of resources in American society.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments John, as I mentioned before I’m struggling a bit the idea of teleology. Can you give an example of non-teleological thinking? Sorry to be so dense, but there you have it, I’m afraid.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments John, as I mentioned before I’m struggling a bit the idea of teleology. Can you give an example of non-teleological thinking? Sorry to be so dense, but there you have it, I’m afraid.


message 9: by John (new)

John R Nelson | 13 comments Sarah, I'm hardly an expert, but as I understand the term, teleological thinking involves a belief that everything in nature has a purpose or goal and is in some way the result of a design. Darwin's theory of natural selection is non-teleological in the sense that it explains how species evolve and adapt, but it doesn't attribute any purpose or goal, or any "designer" as a first cause, to the process of evolution. In the context of the Steinbeck book, Darwin sets forth fundamental principles of how evolution works, and he uses both great variety and depth of evidence to illustrate these principles with clarity, but he never claims that evolution has a goal. it's just the way nature works.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments I think I see now. Thank you, John! I appreciate you taking the time to explain it to me (and maybe others?). It’s funny, I’ve always looked at evolution as having the goal of making the species more likely to survive, but I now see that there are changes that don’t help, are incidental or antithetical to the changing conditions.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments I have to admit I got caught in Chapter 14 in the discussion of Teleology, but I am picking the book up again as I refuse to be bested. I obviously didn’t trouble myself with really understanding it the first time I read it back in the late 80s and now feel compelled to do so.


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