The Science of Last Things: Essays on Deep Time and the Boundaries of the Self (Paperback)

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The Science of Last Things: Essays on Deep Time and the Boundaries of the Self By Ellen Wayland-Smith Cover Image

The Science of Last Things: Essays on Deep Time and the Boundaries of the Self (Paperback)

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"Offering a deeply necessary, clear-eyed look at who we are as flesh-and-bone bodies during the climate crisis, this is a book that searches and finds meaning in both the hard truths and the value of wonder."--Ada Lim nIn this luminous collection of essays, Ellen Wayland-Smith probes the raw edges of human existence, those periods of life in which our bodies remind us of our transience and the boundaries of the self dissolve. For it is in such liminal states--losing a parent, giving birth, experiencing a nervous breakdown, coping with breast cancer--that we, too, are part of "the cosmic molecular arc that binds all life."From the Old Testament to Maggie Nelson, these explorations are grounded in a rich network of associations. In an essay on the postpartum body, Wayland-Smith interweaves her experience as a mother with accounts of phantom limbs and Greek mythology to meditate on moments when pieces of our being exist outside our bodies. In order to comprehend diagnoses of depression and breast cancer, she delves into LA hippie culture's love affair with crystals and Emily Dickinson's geological poetry. Her experience with chemotherapy leads to reflection on Western medicine and its intolerance of death and the healing capacity of nature. And throughout, she challenges the false separation between the human and the "primeval, animal mode of being."At once intimate and expansive, The Science of Last Things peels back layers of human thought and behavior, breaking down our modern conceptions of individuality and reframing us as participants in a world of astounding elegance and mystery.
Ellen Wayland-Smith is the author of Oneida and The Angel in the Marketplace. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Catapult, The Millions, Longreads, The American Scholar, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She teaches at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.
Product Details ISBN: 9781639550968
ISBN-10: 1639550968
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication Date: October 15th, 2024
Pages: 208
Language: English