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Not Man Apart: Photographs of the Big Sur Coast Hardcover – September, 1995
Collectible Photography Books
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Top Customer Reviews
This book led me to read more Jeffers and to find other work by, so far, two of the lesser known photographers represented here, Steve Crouch and Morley Baer. Baer's own book "Stones Of The Sur" with more Jeffers poetry shows he is a photographer of the quality of Ansel Adams. Steve Crouch too, had a rare and beautiful vision as I found in his exquisite book of his own writing and photographs "Fog And Sun, Sea And Stone." All highly highly recommended.
This is truly a "coffeetable book," with beautiful photographs to while away the afternoon, brief passages of text to catch the eye and mind, and a fabric of natural philosophy woven between the photos and Jeffers' words that will draw you into a world very different from our casual days.
Jeffers is a voice of consolation for the pessimist, his poems symphonies to the natural world, eternal or not. His human gestures -- Tamar, California, Cawdor, the Thursos and Medea -- are compelling and operatic, but it is when he and the natural world are alone, staring into each other, that he is at his best, and that best is here.
I am writing this today because the L.A. Times online had an article about Jeffers and his home. It reminded me of this book, and of his poetry.
I lived in the Monterey Bay area for 14 years, and it is still hard to get enough of Big Sur and that wonderful coast. Living close by, you know that the folks who live there are hardy because the Highway 1 can be closed by a landslide for up to several months. And fire can sweep through those canyons oh so fast. I hope to return soon, and see if the swimming hole in the river where my kids learned to swim has restored itself after the fires.
If you can't get there, this is a good introduction to the landscape of that coast, and to the art of Robinson Jeffers.
95% of the photos are of nature, hence the title, Not Man Apart, meaning that nature is not a part of man, but that man is a part of nature, that we cannot live without the the fantastic biosystem from which we came. But there is one picture of a smog-laden city, by William Gannet, although no humans can be seen. Also, apart from the picture of Robinson in front of Tor House in the front, one photo does reveal a naked girl, looking so much a water nymph, poised next to a creek, beneath a giant redwood tree.
This is all set the the words of Robinson Jeffers, the "Cassandra of the Carmel Coast," as many called him. With a foreword by Loren Eisley, and an introduction by Margaret Wentworth Owings (my preface page is stuck together. Was it written by David Brower?), we get to the heart of the matter. The poetry of Robinson Jeffers.
From Passenger Pigeon
Suddenly the passenger pigeon increased, then suddenly their numbers became enormous...............they would flatten ten miles of forest when they flew down to rest. You Death, you watch for these explosions of life, they are your food, they make your feasts.
From The Broken Balance
Man, introverted man..............Has begot giants, but being taken up like a maniac with self love cannot manage his hybrids
Being used to deal with edgeless dreams...............
From Boats in a Fog
The flight of pelicans, is nothing lovelier to look at............all the arts lose virtue against the essential reality of creatures going about their business among the equally ernest elements of nature.
Jeffers, who many would call a cynic because he foresaw the final destruction of man as a part of nature, wrote somewhere that life is neither good nor bad, but mostly gray-neutral. His poetry, however, was pure gold.
A spectacular book. Definitely a collector's item in my mind. Read it at the risk of weeping for all that we have lost.