“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”
“Language is an old-growth forest of the mind.”
“If diversity is a source of wonder, its opposite – the ubiquitous condensation to some blandly amorphous and singulary generic modern culture that takes for granted an impoverished environment – is a source of dismay. There is, indeed, a fire burning over the earth, taking with it plants and animals, cultures, languages, ancient skills and visionary wisdom. Quelling this flame, and re-inventing the poetry of diversity is perhaps the most importent challenge of our times.”
from The Wayfinders
“The surface of the Earth itself is an immense loom upon which the sun weaves the fabric of existence. ”
“Cultural survival is not about preservation, sequestering indigenous peoples in enclaves like some sort of zoological specimens. Change itself does note destroy a culture. All societies are constantly evolving. Indeed a culture survives when it has enough confidence in its past and enough say in its future to maintain its spirit and essence through all the changes it will inevitably undergo. ”
from The Wayfinders
“These other cultures are not failed attempts to be us; they are unique manifestations of the spirit—other options, other visions of life itself.”
“The measure of a society is not only what it does but the quality of its aspirations.”
“We have this extraordinary conceit in the West that while we’ve been hard at work in the creation of technological wizardry and innovation, somehow the other cultures of the world have been intellectually idle. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nor is this difference due to some sort of inherent Western superiority. We now know to be true biologically what we’ve always dreamed to be true philosophically, and that is that we are all brothers and sisters. We are all, by definition, cut from the same genetic cloth. That means every single human society and culture, by definition, shares the same raw mental activity, the same intellectual capacity. And whether that raw genius is placed in service of technological wizardry or unraveling the complex thread of memory inherent in a myth is simply a matter of choice and cultural orientation.”
“Risk discomfort and solitude for understanding.”
from The Serpent and the Rainbow
“I want to lose all harshness of jagged nerves, to be above all gentle. I feel we have achieved victory for that almost more than anything-to be able to cultivate gentleness.
George Malory to his wife Ruth at the end of the Great War”
from Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest
Edmund Wade Davis (born December 14, 1953) is a Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer whose work has focused on worldwide indigenous cultures, especially in North and South America and particularly involving the traditional uses and beliefs associated with psychoactive plants. Davis came to prominence with his 1985 best-selling book The Serpent and the Rainbow about the zombies of Haiti.
Davis has published popular articles in Outside, National Geographic, Fortune and Condé Nast Traveler.
Davis is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. Named by the NGS as one of the Explorers for the Millennium, he has been described as “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity.” In recent years his work has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New Guinea, Australia, Colombia, Vanuatu, Mongolia and the high Arctic of Nunuvut and Greenland.