Friday, August 26, 2011

Recommended reading: Oaxaca Journal by Oliver Sacks

In pursuit of ferns, Sacks and friends travel to Oaxaca, Mexico -- a hot spot for pteridophytes, with at least 690 species.  His journal is entertaining and thought-provoking.  Sacks describes the ferns and the fern-seekers themselves, an interesting bunch as one would expect.  He speculates about the societies of the Zapotecs and Aztecs, and the important plants:  corn and beans, tobacco, cacao, and plant-derived hallucinogens that may explain some rock art (Sacks the neurologist hints at the possibility of escaping the confines of our mental constructs).  Fern-lovers, pre-Colombian Indians and Sacks himself are the the subjects of his continuing exploration of life -- looking for "the relationships and activities, the practices and skills, the beliefs and goals, the ideas and dreams, that make for a full human life."

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