Hello Again, Rebecca Solnit


Rebecca Solnit, the essayist-turned-progressive-icon, at home in San Francisco. Credit Trent Davis Bailey

We have appreciated her in these pages over the years without really knowing anything about her, so thanks to Alice Gregory for this (may we just say that it seems odd to find it in the Entertainment section of the New York Times Magazine; why not the Arts section, or even the Politics section?):

How Rebecca Solnit Became the Voice of the Resistance

Subjects that the author and essayist Rebecca Solnit has written about, some at considerable length, include Irish history, atlases, Alzheimer’s, a traveling medical clinic, natural disasters, urban planning, tortoises, walking, gentrification, Yosemite National Park and Apple Inc.

‘‘There’s something interdisciplinary at best and wildly wandering at worst about how I think,’’ she told me recently over the phone from San Francisco, where she lives and works. ‘‘I am interested in almost everything, and it can sometimes seem like a burden.’’ She cited Virginia Woolf and Henry David Thoreau as the writers most important to her: ‘‘Each of them wrote exquisitely about experiential, immediate encounters with the tangible world but could also be very powerful political polemicists. And the arc of their work describes a space in which you can be both.’’ Continue reading

Processed Views

Although a previous post that embraced the sculptural qualities of food had a far more lighthearted intent, the juxtaposition of Carleton Watkins’ classic photographs and Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman’s irreverent dioramas has to be viewed with a certain level of irony. The iconic photos of America’s great national parks brought a sense of the country’s vastness home.

The pioneering nineteenth-century landscape photographer Carleton Watkins visited Yosemite during a time of rapid industrialization in the American West, but you’d never know it from the majestic tranquility of the rivers, mountains, forests, and rock faces he depicted. In her book “River of Shadows,” Rebecca Solnit, chronicling the life of another influential photographer of the time, Eadweard Muybridge, whose studies of high-speed movement helped to pioneer motion-picture technology, wrote that Watkins’s landscapes “looked like the true world everyone sought but no one else could locate among the mining booms, railroad building, land grabs, mobs, and murders” of the period. And yet Watkins’s images—which provided many people back East their first views of Yosemite’s idyllic splendor—were, in some sense, an advertisement for the possibilities of the West, and the vast untapped resources that American corporations of the eighteen-sixties and seventies were rushing to exploit. Continue reading

Another View On Miraculous Silicon Valley

Click the banner above to read the whole entry at its source:


Rebecca Solnit

The buses roll up to San Francisco’s bus stops in the morning and evening, but they are unmarked, or nearly so, and not for the public. They have no signs or have discreet acronyms on the front windshield, and because they also have no rear doors they ingest and disgorge their passengers slowly, while the brightly lit funky orange public buses wait behind them. Continue reading

Walk The Walk

Click the image above to go to the thought piece.  It got us thinking that sometimes we can only talk the talk; other times we make the effort to at least talk the walk; on a good day we walk as we talk; but on the best days we walk the walk:

For 44 days, I walked El Camino de Santiago de Compostella. “The way to Santiago along the field of stars.”

The standard icebreaker along the dirt path is simply, expectedly, “Why are you walking?” Continue reading

Ancient Activist Pastime

Click the banner above for this article in which Rebecca Solnit discusses urban agriculture, aka gardening, as a revolutionary act of enormous import for our modern times:

We are in an era when gardens are front and center for hopes and dreams of a better world or just a better neighborhood, or the fertile space where the two become one. There are farm advocates and food activists, progressive farmers and gardeners, and maybe most particular to this moment, there’s a lot of urban agriculture. Continue reading