On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge, By Robert Dash, Book Review

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In On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge, Robert Dash directs the lens of an electron microscope toward the universe on his doorstep. This enables him to bring into view an otherwise invisible world. He describes his impression of this vision: “I am stunned that a space this small can have a library this large.”

In the preface to his book, Dash suggests that he considers the book to be a sequel to Blake’s lines, “To see the world in a grain of sand”.  If Dash’s intention is to inspire awareness in readers, he has realized his wish. I, personally, was spellbound by the vitality evident in a speck of pollen. My awe was intensified by successive pictures that together revealed the logic in nature’s purpose.

It is often suggested, by medical professionals and seers, that people look inwards to understand themselves, and to find peace. Mr. Dash demonstrates that perhaps looking out, very closely, may be as inspiring an exercise. There, on our doorsteps, an extension of our own existence may be discovered.

One photo that is particularly effective shows the underside of a tree leaf. In vivid color, we see stomata carrying on their function. This function is as essential to human life as it is to the life of the tree. Stomata inhale as we exhale, and exhale as we inhale. It is the same breath, exchanged and returned, between plant and human. We sustain each other.

Mr. Dash writes poetry to accompany his pictures. The poetry is unaffected and expressive. I especially enjoyed “Moon Came By”, in which the moon drops “gold light on rowdy black waves”.  The imagery is original, and memorable.  As charming as the writing is, though, it is not necessary to the book.  The heart of this book, its life, is in the pictures.

On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge is a visually striking and conceptually unique book. I highly recommend it.

A. G. Moore 9/2017

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