Lichen Yoga in the California Alpine: Yoking the creative and scientific parts of self

But there are exceptions: David Galloway and his studies on the history of lichenology is one. And there’s the giant beacon of Trevor Goward’s Ways of Enlichenment essays, perhaps the best example in lichenology of work that links taxonomy with meta-narrative in order to inform taxonomy. Pure genius. I wonder if there are correlaries in other fields of biology? Regardless, I’m not like that either. I’m more of a scientist who enjoys journalism, feature articles, that sort of thing. Considering that’s what my early training was in anyways, its really not a big surprise to anyone but myself..

Luckily, I have a great partner who honors my love for writing. So when we were to write an article for the California Lichen Society Bulletin about our alpine lichen work in California, Jason encouraged me to write it as a narrative piece — to have fun with it. To have fun with it. To bring all the parts of myself together basically means for them all to hack each other to shreds – or build something. Artist vs scientist. Gestalt vs minutiae. Form vs function. They are orthogonal to each other, not opposites per se, but different vertices altogether, that only cojoin in very special circumstances. Well, if there is a container for where they can join and build something different than either would build on their own, that container is CALS: a small journal geared towards amateur and professional lichenologists in California.

In many ways, this article is as much a tribute to Henry Imshaug’s adventurous spirit and lichen career as it is about researching alpine lichens in California.

After a bit a teeth gnawing and lots of inspired bursts of prose, the article ended up being a narrative piece, one with lots of adjectives and historical tidbits and other totally non-essential elements that add to feeling tone and rhythm and pure joy.

Surprisingly, the response during the editing process was unexpectedly supportive. And since the publication equally so! Its a pretty special feeling for the more creative sides of myself to have some breathing room to express themselves and dance with the scientific sides.

Without much [more] ado, here’s the article. Its pretty short, quite sweet, with lots of colorful pictures, and a story line that has a little bit of a beat. Perhaps this is what it means to embody enlichenment — where all the parts of a self can create something emergent, something quite different than either of the bionts working in isolation.


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