Winter 1992, Volume 9.1
Neila C. Seshachari
With this January 1992 issue, Weber Studies becomes a triquarterly! I do not subscribe to the traditionally accepted view that "bigger is better" or that "more spells progress." Over the years, we have all perhaps come close to believing that (only) Small Is Beautiful. And yet seeing the journal grow from an annual the first three years to a bi-annual the next five, and now launching into a tri-annual venture gives me a sense of belonging to a great American academic tradition. Aren't most university periodicals of any standing published quarterly or at least triquarterly?
Journals, like the humans who dream them up, go through their cycles of change. As this issue takes its bow to usher in another, perhaps final, stage in its growth, a deeply embedded impulse in me surfaces to offer a benediction in Sanskrit: Siddhir bhavatu te sada "May your endeavors be successful always." Implicit in my thought is also the hope or prayer that each successive editor the journal inherits nurture it with intuition and perception.
For now, as the change of pace forces a certain introspection upon us, we nudge ourselves to rethink our mission. At our last Advisory Board meeting, when all members were assigned to articulate their ideas, William Mulder passed on to me a remarkably lucid and well-wrought mission statement which I modify here only minimally:
This issue comes closest to being a meditation on the environment. It evolved into one naturally. The three essays on nature were chosen to complement and express the diverse responses of their writers to nature's mysterious phenomena and wealth of species.
The pristine outdoors—dirt, rock, wind, rain, ice, dust—remind Edward Lueders of the ongoing geomorphic process of our planet. In proximity with nature, he thinks of Earth cycles and rhythms of the universe. The very meaning of the word environment, he reminds us, has undergone metamorphosis from human environment to the environment, protean in its suggestiveness of survival as well as cyclical natural processes of regeneration.
In "Marginality, Midnight Optimism, and the Natural Cipher," Scott Slovic takes a backward glance at Thoreau's addiction to solitude and perspicacious indirection to discover in him kindred antecedents of contemporary nature writers (especially Eiseley) who also recognize the marginal realm of inhuman nature as a locus of spiritual and scientific insight, and psychological stimulation.
In Galapagos Islands, Robert B. Smith, himself a chemist, finds both insight and stimulation, plus a mystical sense of the continuity of all life on this planet. His scientific knowledge of the cellular biochemistry that animates every living creature unites in a mystical, visceral feeling of oneness with all other species.
The two short fictions we feature inhabit both the environmentsthe human, socially-engineered environment as well as the wilderness environment. Both George Garrett's "The Gift" and Kate Lahey's "The Half Ship" mention sailboats or ships, and both stories also begin with the deaths of the protagonists. In an environmental sense, these are truly post-humus narratives!
Poems by Nancy Takacs, Eve Shelnutt, Eugene Hollahan, David Sumner, and Janene Bowen punctuate and enrich a collection already replete with engrossing reading. And the book reviews, as always, spotlight some of "the best in the Intermountain West" along with other noteworthy books published elsewhere nationally.
Our next issue, to be published in time to celebrate May Sarton's 80th birthday on 2 May 1992, will feature her recent journal entries and an interview with this celebrated poet and novelist.
Weber Studies aspires to be an uncommon journal for common readers, which is to say that every issue aspires to be stimulating to anyone who believes, with Terence, that "nothing human is alien to me." Hence, the humanities and the interdisciplinary nature of human pursuits. And hence, the aim of Weber Studies to cultivate perspicacious writers and discerning readers..