Absence and Light

Absence and Light: Meditations from the Klamath Marshes   (University of Nevada Press)

A collection of 44 prose meditations inspired by the transitory and bird-rich environment of the Klamath marshes on the Oregon/California border. "In order to accept the enormous responsibility that comes of being in the world, we must first conceive, in spite of all the obstacles, the state of actually being the world." It is for this reason that John R. Campbell came to the Klamath marshes, a wetland in southern Oregon formed by three ancient, shallow lakes, a vast emptiness that is paradoxically home to an amazing diversity of life, of untold thousands of birds both migratory and resident, of all the interconnected life forms that make up one of North America's richest natural environments. Absence and Light is Campbell's account of his exploration of the marshes and a meditation on the world he found there, on his growing understanding of the physical, emotional, moral, and aesthetic meaning of that world, on his own growth as a man. Through Campbell's eyes, we observe the stirring and astonishing beauty of the marshes and their creatures, and the utter poignancy of their fragility before the heedless ambitions of humankind. This is nature writing at its most profound and moving, writing that in examining and defining the world of nature helps us to understand the very complicated and contradictory realities of being human. Campbell's luminous descriptions and mystical insights will long linger in the reader's memory.