Nature's Chaos


By James Gleick

By Eliot Porter

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ebook (Digital original)


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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 1, 2001. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

With 102 spectacular full-color photos, this fascinating “field guide” explores the world’s natural disorder.


Photographs copyright © 1900 by Eliot Porter

Text copyright © 1990 by James Gleick

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Originally published in hardcover by Viking. November 1990 First Little, Brown U.S. paperback edition, October 2001

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First eBook Edition: January 2001

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ISBN: 978-0-7595-2118-6

James Gleick wrote the international bestseller Chaos, which was nominated for the National Book Award; Genius, a biography of Richard Feynman; and, most recently, the bestselling Faster. He edited The Best American Science Writing 2000. He was the 1990 McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University. He has been both a science writer and a metropolitan editor for the New York Times.

Eliot Porter (1901–1990) was an internationally acclaimed photographer. His books include In the Wilderness Is the Preservation of the World and Intimate Landscapes, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's retrospective of Porter's work. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Ferns in forest, Mt. Meru, Arusha National Park, Tanzania, Africa, 8 July 1970


Ever since I became a photographer, my interest has been in the natural world. My sense of wonder was first aroused by the physical and biological mysteries of science, and when I became interested in photography the subjects that occupied my attention were those primarily connected with the natural scene. Nature became intimately associated with my perception of beauty.

To most people, I am sure, the beauty of nature means such features as the flowers of spring, autumn foliage, mountain landscapes, and other similar aspects. That they are beautiful is indisputable; yet they are not all that is beautiful about nature. They are the peaks and summits of nature's greatest displays. But underlying and supporting these brilliant displays are slow, quiet processes that pass almost unnoticed from season to season—unnoticed, that is, by those who think that the beauty in nature is all in its gaudy displays. Yet, how much is missed if we have eyes only for the bright colors. Nature should be viewed without distinction. All her processes and evolutions are beautiful or ugly to the unbiased and undiscriminating observer. She makes no choice herself—everything that happens has equal significance. Withering follows blooming, death follows growth, decay follows death, and life follows decay in a wonderful, complicated, endless web the surface beauties of which are manifest to a point of view unattached to vulgar, restricting concepts of what constitutes beauty in nature.


On Sale
Jan 1, 2001
Page Count
128 pages