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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'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, from academic works to playful comic graphics. All photographs on this website are by the author.

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. All stories are, in one form or another, attempts to touch the mystery of strangers, including ourselves.

Behind the Veil