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The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time

Tekijä: Hugh Raffles

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
753350,975 (3.64)2
"Drawing on history, anthropology, accounts of exploration, and observation, Hugh Raffles undertakes a journey to places north--to investigate the uncertain survival and unsettling presence of ancient stones and the alluring glimpse that these stones open into lives and meanings now faded from view. He travels to Iceland, to the once standing Odin Stone in the Orkney Islands, to the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides, to the coal mines of Spitsbergen, and to the Museum of Natural History in New York to see the Cape York meteorite that Admiral Peary brought back from Greenland. Raffles also journeys to his own everyday north, on a crowded uptown New York City subway, rattling beneath Broadway, hurtling to a place called Marble Hill--the subterranean marble that soared into peaks, weathered into wooded hills, extruded and folded to form an island that once roamed upon an ancient ocean. Raffles's meditation leads him to understand how these fundamental objects and places can seem to lose their solidity and become inextricable from historic account and the architecture of human fate"--… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 3/3
No real idea how to do this one justice; a beautiful book that refuses to draw disciplinary lines and presents some of the ugliest human behavior (vis-à-vis other sapiens and the rest of creation, organic and in-), somehow without causing the reader to lose faith. The very sort of book I hope one day to write. ( )
  KatrinkaV | Mar 7, 2022 |
I was provided an advanced copy of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I hesitate to give a book that is part memoir about loss a low rating, because I know how much of the author is invested in the story - the time and emotional work invested in getting the piece to publication - and for that effort I have given it the rating it has.

However, the book's actual verbosity and complexity was too much when it was described as a story where the author would use geology through time as touchstones to help cope with the loss. Unless you have a deep interest in learning about geology and stone through time and around the world, you might want to pass on this one. ( )
  rubberkeyhole | Jan 16, 2022 |
Thanks to NetGalley for my ARC.

This book opens up like no other anthropology book you will ever read and its because its not a straightforward anthropology 'all about rocks' kind of a book although it is written by an accomplished anthropologist. Hugh Raffles opens his The Book of Unconformities with the tragic story of the uncannily timed death of his two sisters, one dies during pregnancy and the other in suicide. After the opening there is no direct stated trace back to this heartbreaking entrance into his subject matter. However throughout the read the death of Raffles sisters, at least to this reader, hung over my head, loomed in the background and I kept making my own connections to this tragic event and the things that Raffles writes about throughout this wonderfully written book. Try to keep the introduction as you read this book. Try to hearken back to the tragedy that served as the reason Raffles spent 10 years researching this endlessly interesting topic. Thinking on this will help to make sense and have a connection to the details and insights that Raffles makes throughout.

It is a stunning work and a wholly original deep dive into the objects that we, mankind/humanity, imbue with meaning and stories and mythology and what it means when those meanings break down and change and get interpreted and reinterpreted. In that way it's heartbreaking, this research topic that found its genesis in tragic loss that is all about all sorts of losses over the entire history of mankind. While time is indifferent it seems to all of our fates or the fates of things or the fates of the things that we give meaning to and the fates of those meanings themselves what is not indifferent, at least it is evident to this reader, is our ability to then trace over those things that are losing meaning that seem dead or lost and to then find comfort and meaning in them. It is then the ability or potential to find kinship with deep time with the geologic timescale that Raffles seems to be pointing at. The fact that all of the histories that he traces back to and writes about is about humanity tapping into just one moment in the 'lifespan' of fragments of geology that will outlast us all by many aeons. It is this uncanny realization that our marks can upon the geologic will be there long after us - long after any of us and that the meanings are all temporary and subject to change and loss and reinvention.

Hugh Raffles writes the sort of quirky off-kilter and unexpected natural science books that I love to read. Highly original and based on good field work and full of information and insights that I would not be able to access myself. The Book of Unconformities pairs well with work like Adele Brands The Hidden World of the Fox and anything written by Helen MacDonald. This said it is obvious but it must be stated that Raffles is a totally engaging writer and his prose keeps you moving along even when the subject matter gets deep and it does get deep. The book is based on ten years of field work and travel and research it is all encompassing but its engaging in the way a really great class is engaging Raffles teaches and illuminates but it never feels like a chore.

The Book of Unconformities takes anthropology writing into the realm of literature and as the cover will tell you its a speculation(s) on lost time. ( )
  modioperandi | May 19, 2020 |
näyttää 3/3
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"Drawing on history, anthropology, accounts of exploration, and observation, Hugh Raffles undertakes a journey to places north--to investigate the uncertain survival and unsettling presence of ancient stones and the alluring glimpse that these stones open into lives and meanings now faded from view. He travels to Iceland, to the once standing Odin Stone in the Orkney Islands, to the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides, to the coal mines of Spitsbergen, and to the Museum of Natural History in New York to see the Cape York meteorite that Admiral Peary brought back from Greenland. Raffles also journeys to his own everyday north, on a crowded uptown New York City subway, rattling beneath Broadway, hurtling to a place called Marble Hill--the subterranean marble that soared into peaks, weathered into wooded hills, extruded and folded to form an island that once roamed upon an ancient ocean. Raffles's meditation leads him to understand how these fundamental objects and places can seem to lose their solidity and become inextricable from historic account and the architecture of human fate"--

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