Just saw the Cove with my son, Jesse, and our friend, Joel. Devastating movie. So important. Extremely courageous. And brilliantly made. If the thought of seeing dolphins slaughtered, keeps you out of the theater, reconsider. The movie is part adventure story, part marine documentary, part expose. The actual brutality is a very small part of the movie, although I won't deny it is heartbreaking. Seeing the trajectory of Ric O'Barry's career from Flipper trainer to anti-captivity activist is also moving, since perhaps no one has had such an intimate relationship with cetaceans. We enter their world, their consciousness, and their great other intelligence. What a mammalian homecoming it would be if we started to really see the uniqueness and true value of our seaborn cousins. There are many ways in which the Taiji story and the Cove fit into the wider story of the oceans and the biosphere told in Eye of the Whale. I think it is quite amazing that the culture is beginning to wake up to the need to change the cruel and self-destroying choices we are making. Can we save the whales? Can we save ourselves?
Fascinating day and interview on SETI radio. My host, Molly Bentley heard my interview on Michael Krasny and asked me to join her on her radio program at SETI. SETI stands for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. The mission of the Institute is "to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe." We had a wide-ranging and quite fascinating conversation about whale communication and intelligence as well as many of the other issues raised in the book. We discussed the fact that understanding one of the other great (yet quite different) intelligences on our own planet might help us to understand any extra-terrestrial intelligence we might discover. We also looked at the differences and similarities of our different consciousnesses and how they have evolved for our different environments. One of my advisors, Dr. Brenda McCowan of UC-Davis, worked with SETI on her whale research, trying to explore how what we know about whale communication might inform our understanding of alien intelligence. Molly was an impassioned interviewer, and we also discussed not only the dangers of anthropomorphism, which I've tried to avoid, but also the danger of human exceptionalism, and our artificial and self-created separation from the rest of the intelligence on our planet. We also discussed the pain that comes from knowing the truth and the perhaps even greater pain of denial.
Wonderful article on the Eye of the Whale on the home page of the important and superb organization, Collaboration for health and the Environment, an umbrella for many great groups and individuals working on behalf of environmental health. I am very honored that they are supporting the novel. I was particularly moved by Executive Director Elise Miller's reaction to the novel: "Just finished reading Eye of the Whale--I thought the science was right on the mark and the story riveting! Just terrific. I can certainly see how this could help leverage chem policy reform—and be made into a screenplay."
My hope was that the book would entertain, inform, and transform. It's incredible to think that it might really be to accomplish all three. Love to know what others think.
Launch week was incredible. It started with a great audio on KUSP and then on publication day with one of my literary heroes, Michael Krasny, the Bay Area's answer to Terry Gross. We had a fascinating hour talking about the novel, whale intelligence, environmental issues, the nature of fiction. It was great. That was Tuesday, on Wednesday, we had the first reading and launch party with about eighty people at the legendary Capitola Book Cafe and on Thursday, I went up to Marin and did an event at the equally legendary Book Passage with Frances Gulland of the Marine Mammal Center. Frances is the head vet at MMC and was instrumental in rescuing Delta and Dawn, the humpback whales that swam up the Sacramento in 2007 while I was working on the novel. It was incredible to watch scenes from my novel come to life and play out in front of my eyes. I was able to watch Frances in action and also Lt. Rob Bixler, who was a key advisor on the novel on all things Coast Guard.
Today, I'm off to Big Sur, to the Esalen Institute, where much of the book was written in a room clinging to the cliffs as I watched whales migrating by. So exciting to go back and celebrate the books publication.
Here are some pictures from the interview with Michael Krasny and the events (and Rachel with the girls)
Just got back from an amazing family trip to Wyoming--where the antelope still roam. We were visiting my friends Don & Kendall's ranch, where Don and I lived one winter in college. That winter, we moved cattle, skied in my miles from the road with groceries on our back, read philosophy, and shaved our legs (don't ask!). Incredible to share the ranch and that magnificent, wide open, desolate land with my family. Got to teach my children how to ride horses, ATVs, and my son took me on a cross country bicycle ride through sage brush that had me launched over the handle bars.
On the road with Rachel, Jesse, Eliana, and Kayla...
Shamed by my son into vamping...
Excited that publication day is finally tomorrow. Yesterday, an interview with Rick Kleffel aired on KUSP and can be heard as a podcast here. I'll be on the air again tomorrow with legendary Bay Area radio host Michael Krasny on Forum for a live, call-in show. It's an honor and privilege to be on both of these shows.
Paul Krugman is brilliant on all things economic, but here he shows his genius for skewering the perfidy of the climate change deniers in our government:
... if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.
It is extraordinary that people can be so short-sighted, so no-sighted, frankly, so evil. This was the kind of villainy that appears in Eye of the Whale. It is always disturbing when your villains come to life--or confirm that your villains are based on reality.
Delighted by the great review Oceana just gave Eye of the Whale on their blog:
If you are looking for a good summer beach read, Eye of the Whale may be just the ticket. Billed as an ecological thriller, Douglas Carlton Abrams manages to successfully weave science into engaging storylines, providing a rich fictional entree into many of the issues Oceana works on.
Thank you to my friends at Oceana, for their kind words and all the great work they do!
I just found a song that one of my twin daughters wrote when she was about seven:
Save the world and the world will save you (repeat) The plants, the animals, and you (repeat) We all stand under the same sky (repeat) Respect the world, Save the world.
Is there any more that needs to be said? It's pretty simple, isn't it? My novel, Eye of the Whale, is a little longer and more complicated, but we adults tend to want it that way. I am not sure it is nearly as poetic.