Thursday, January 23
I sometimes think of the historical sciences—geology, evolutionary biology, certain branches of astrophysics—as analogous to trying to reconstruct a complicated “night before” with a drunk in a bar. In this case, nature’s the drunk: It knows what happened, but it’s sure as hell not going to give it to you straight. The big difference is that you can at least relate to a drunk. Nature is a dark narrator, an artist of indifference, Cormac McCarthy on a cosmic scale. When the stories it tells don’t fit easily onto a narrative storyboard, we force them, willfully blind to inconvenient truths about our fellow animals, their nature, their mysteries.