The overstory

The Overstory



  • Author:: [[ Richard Powers ]]
  • Full Title:: The Overstory
  • Category:: #books


  • He’ll build a career on that theme: cuing, priming, framing, confirmation bias, and the conflation of correlation with causality—all these faults, built into the brain of the most problematic of large mammals. (Location 755)
  • A tree that poisons the ground beneath itself so nothing else can grow. (Location 761)
  • Plans in the absence of any planner. Paths in the absence of a surveyor. (Location 830)
  • Entire weekends in basements pitching dice and arguing over esoteric role-playing rules with obese, anemic boy-men who tote suitcases full of collectible trading cards. (Location 886)
  • The beaches and bays are not forbidden him. (Location 1697)
  • The fraction of an ounce of beechnut now weighs more than she does. But the soil weighs just what it did, minus an ounce or two. There’s no other explanation: almost all the tree’s mass has come from the very air. Her father knew this. Now she does, too. (Location 1849)
  • Where the deer bound, where the trout rise, where your horse stops to slather a drink from icy water while the sun is warm on the back of your neck, where every breath you draw is exhilaration — that is where the Aspens grow. (Location 1872)
  • We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men. . . . In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness. (Location 1940)
    • Note: Muir speaks…
  • The past always comes clearer, in the future. (Location 2068)
    • Tags: [[ favorite ]]
  • Life will not answer to reason. (Location 2076)
  • There are no individuals. There aren’t even separate species. Everything in the forest is the forest. (Location 2230)
    • Tags: [[ favorite ]]
  • There are a hundred thousand species of love, separately invented, each more ingenious than the last, and every one of them keeps making things. (Location 2266)
  • Here’s the thing about an apple: it sticks in the throat. It’s a package deal: lust and understanding. Immortality and death. Sweet pulp with cyanide seeds. It’s a bang on the head that births up whole sciences. A golden delicious discord, the kind of gift chucked into a wedding feast that leads to endless war. It’s the fruit that keeps the gods alive. The first, worst crime, but a fortunate windfall. Blessed be the time that apple taken was. (Location 2479)
    • Note: Have a bite.
  • No strangeness stranger than the strangeness of living things. (Location 2748)
    • Tags: [[ favorite ]]
    • Note: Yes

      New highlights added November 13, 2022 at 4:01 PM

  • Quick young people, loud in their devotion, call across the tent-dotted meadow. Their noses, ears, and eyebrows flash with hardware. Dreadlocks tangle in the fibers of their multicolored garb. They stink of soil, sweat, idealism, patchouli oil, and the sweet sinsemilla grown all through these woods. (Location 3293)
  • He has landed in a druid tree cult like the ones he read about on winter nights in the Hoel family encyclopedia. Oak veneration at the oracle at Dodona, the druids’ groves in Britain and Gaul, Shinto sakaki worship, India’s bejeweled wishing trees, Mayan kapoks, Egyptian sycamores, the Chinese sacred ginkgo—all the branches of the world’s first religion. (Location 3347)

    New highlights added November 13, 2022 at 7:01 PM

  • All winter she has struggled to describe the joy of her life’s work and the discoveries that have solidified in a few short years: how trees talk to one another, over the air and underground. How they care and feed each other, orchestrating shared behaviors through the networked soil. (Location 3384)

    New highlights added November 13, 2022 at 8:01 PM

  • There are no individuals in a forest, no separable events. The bird and the branch it sits on are a joint thing. A third or more of the food a big tree makes may go to feed other organisms. (Location 3396)

    New highlights added November 13, 2022 at 9:01 PM

  • She remembers the Buddha’s words: A tree is a wondrous thing that shelters, feeds, and protects all living things. It even offers shade to the axmen who destroy it. (Location 3455)
  • She hates the phone. Handheld schizophrenia. Unseen voices whispering to you from a distance. (Location 3485)

Reading and Writing MOC## New highlights added November 18, 2022 at 11:27 AM

  • It’s a funny thing about capitalism: money you lose by slowing down is always more important than money you’ve already made. (Location 3823)
  • Children, women, slaves, aboriginals, the ill, insane, and disabled: all changed, unthinkably, over the centuries, into persons by the law. So why shouldn’t trees and eagles and rivers and living mountains be able to sue humans for theft and endless damages? (Location 3909)
  • It is no answer to say that streams and forests cannot have standing because streams and forests cannot speak. Corporations cannot speak, either; nor can states, estates, infants, incompetents, municipalities, or universities. Lawyers speak for them. (Location 3920)

    New highlights added November 18, 2022 at 7:28 PM

  • But even now, after an immense journey in separate directions, that tree and you still share a quarter of your genes. (Location 4208)
    • Note: Really?
  • There’s an arms race on. The protesters begin to think they might even be able to outspend the police, who are funded by a public convinced that all taxes are theft, but giving away public timber is not. (Location 4230)
    • Note: Truth

      New highlights added November 19, 2022 at 10:28 PM

  • It can’t even slow down. The only thing we know how to do is grow. Grow harder; grow faster. More than last year. Growth, all the way up to the cliff and over. No other possibility.” (Location 4776)
  • She would tell him—how the towering, teetering pyramid of large living things is toppling down already, in slow motion, under the huge, swift kick that has dislodged the planetary system. The great cycles of air and water are breaking. The Tree of Life will fall again, collapse into a stump of invertebrates, tough ground cover, and bacteria, unless man . . . Unless man. (Location 4778)

    New highlights added November 20, 2022 at 12:51 PM

  • Adam stares at the trick of blockbuster back projection. He has never been so close to a thing so huge and malevolent. He sees its million parts—shafts, cams, blades, plates, things for which he doesn’t even have a name—beyond the power of any human to assemble, let alone design. Yet there must be thousands of such craft, employed by industries on every continent. Tens of thousands more, armed and armored, in the globe’s many arsenals. World’s most common raptor. (Location 5115)
  • IN JAIL, fitful in his upper bunk, Adam sees great redwoods explode like rockets on their launchpads. His research is intact—all the precious questionnaire data gathered over months—but he is not. He has begun to see certain things about faith and law that hid themselves behind the expanse of common sense. Jail without arraignment helps his eyesight. (Location 5155)

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