Voyages of Discovery and Understanding

In-class writing, Winter 2003


Hay dos modos de conciencia:

una es luz, y otra, paciencia.

Una estriba en alumbrar

un poquito el hondo mar;

otra, en hacer penitencia

con caña o red, y esperar

el pez, como pescador.

Dime tú: ¿Cuál es mejor?

¿Conciencia de visionario

que mira en el hondo acuario

peces vivos,


que no se pueden pescar,

o esa maldita faena

de ir arrojando a la arena,

muertos, los peces del mar?

Antonio Machado


There are two modes of consciousness:

one is light, the other, patience.

One consists of illuminating

a little the depths of the sea;

the other, in enduring the punishment

with rod or net, and awaiting

the fish, like a fisherman.

Tell me: Which is better?

The consciousness of the visionary

who looks in the deep water

at the live fish,


that one cannot fish,

or that damned chore

of tossing up onto the sand,

dead, the fish of the sea?

You will have up to 30 minutes of class time to write about each question.

1. Contrast the ecosystems of two of the areas that we studied, in terms of vegetation type, types of animals, biodiversity, etc. Explain how these differences are caused by factors such as latitude, topography, wind and ocean currents, plate tectonics, etc.

2. Could the ecological/evolutionary concepts that we discussed in class be applied to studies of cultures and interactions among civilizations? Explain how and give examples.

3. Describe and compare two cultures that we studied. Discuss their similarities and differences. Consider how the natural environment may have contributed to or influenced the characteristic features of each culture.

4. There are two ways to approach life. One way is through theory, concepts, models, and the idea of underlying ideal forms. Another is empirical, observational, and based on personal knowledge acquired by direct experience. Compare and contrast these approaches for the different cultures that we discussed, including your own. What are the consequences of these different ways of understanding the world?