The imagined life

As an anthropologist I worked for years in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, now called the Western Isles, and am the author of “Scottish Crofters” and numerous research articles (and a few short stories, essays, poems, and plays) related to this experience--a good chunk of my heart continues to dwell there. I’ve written about Europe, sleep and dreams, evolution of the brain, the biology and culture of salt, how a gorilla would interpret Beowulf, California from the Native American point of view, death rituals in Sulawesi, and the titles of travel books. I admire the intellectual complexity of a Stephen Jay Gould, the journalistic detail of a John McPhee, and the experimental panache of an Umberto Eco. I'm also an amateur artist and photographer. I've created this web site to be a bit like Montaigne's retreat: a tower of one's own to collage with life fragments; to be playful with the life one has lived.

London from a spider's point of view

The Artist

If I were to draw a self-portrait, it would be divided in half: one half in shades of gray, representing my attempt as a scientist trained in psychology (B.A., Antioch College) and anthropology (Ph.D., Rice University) to record what I see, the other in brilliant color, representing my search for beauty through words and the visual arts. I am especially enamored of faces. All faces are masks, and I love them for what they conceal and reveal about their stories—the distrust and hope, the desire and suffering in faces starkly different in sex, age, or ethnicity; the alien peering out from the familiar. When I use line and color and diverse media, I am exploring the terrain of human identity and the contrast and conflict between interior and exterior.

Hornet mask