SaintJoe H2O

In the space below, describe your first reactions to "The Enchanted Braid: Coming to Terms with Nature on the Coral Reef by Osha Gray Davidson." 

What sort of feeling does the first chapter leave you with?  From your reading of the first chapter, how is this book both similar to and different from a typical text you might read in a science course? Be text-based in your responses and provide ample detail to back up your claim.

Tags: Davidson, Osha, bookstudy, braid, coralreefs, enchantedbraid, reading, reflection, response

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My first reaction to The Enchanted Braid is that it is really good. I like the quotes he puts before some of the chapters like, "In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught, by Baba Dioum." The first quote really related to the first chapter of the book and to one of my previous posts. It is very like a regular science text book because it is loaded with facts of all kinds. I counted just in the first chapter 27 footnotes. This book is very different though because it has opinions. Throughout the first chapter of the book Osha Gray Davidson states his opinions and his personal experiences with the reefs he has been on. One good example is, "I've had several computers die in my arms, as it were, and there has never been so much as a wisp of smoke." Another example is, "Perhaps we want to subdue whatever arouses those powerful feelings of awe, to master it, so that we are no longer threatened by such primal emotions." So far, I really like this book and think it will be an interesting read.
I'm glad you appreciate the way the author marries science and art. You're right -though I hadn't thought of it quite that way- the book really is loaded with factual information. In that way, I suppose it is rather like a "textbook." Yet, I shudder to think of calling it that. Isn't it interesting how primally powerful storytelling really is? Here we have a work of literature that conveys a wealth of information about an ecosystem crucial to the planet... and it does so in an almost poetic way at times.
I think that because of Davidson's poetic style is very beneficial for his topic, because you can see through the textbook information and feel the emotion he puts into his work. When passion is imbedded into pure information the author brings it to life, and outsiders to the subject can understand on a deeper level. It's proven that we store more information when we can relay fact to experience - and this book does just that. The informal feel of the book works as a catalyst: I found myself imagining New Caledonian sea stars on algae covered rocks, curious clownfish and all the angelfish we learned the first week of memorization. And immediately after reading of his first snorkeling trip on the reef, I searched through my reference books until I had found pictures of every marine creature he described. And then I read another few chapters.
I remember doing the same thing last year when I read this chapter....remember being so amazed by how these creatures were actually animals. I am still amazed. Just wait 'til next April. Imagining will turn to reality...
The quote about conserving what we love spoke to me as well. In my Zoology class, when we learn about corals, I try to explain to them what coral bleaching is like, how awful it would be if reefs were decimated. Whenever we talk about this, I never feel like I'm getting through to my students - I try to teach them the importance of the coral ecosystem, but it is a hard thing to understand the importance of, living hundreds of miles away, most of them have only imagined what it looks like under the surface of the ocean.

However, the last part, about understanding what we were taught, gives me hope. Even, if just by talking to my students,they begin to understand the importance of this ecosystem, its beaut. And maybe, if the world ever truly comes to the place where we are worrying about losing our last reefs, they will understand why the need to conserve this ecosystem is so great.
this book is different from the average text book because
1) it starts off each chapter with a quote that represents the upcoming information
2) the book intrecates amazing details into it's stories to draw you in and excite the reader!! for example in the first chapter instead of just saying "i went snorkleing and saw this and that fish" the author gives amazing details , his use of details and imagery kept me on the edge of my seat while reading! i finished the chapter very quickly because it was fun to read!!
3) also this book uses footnotes repeatedly throughout , while a text book uses only a few per chapter because it is more information based while the book was more creating a story while educating the reader

Most of all i loved this book because it was interesting to read and was exciting! :)
Exactly. I'm glad you noticed how the use of footnotes throughout allows the development of the story to be unhindered by definition and referencing of ideas. And yet, all of the information is there for those that need it along the way. It's funny, but now that you mention it, this might be somewhat akin to being able to hyperlink text in a blog or discussion thread like this one. Instead of going on and on about what hyperlinking is, I can just provide a link to a website with more information. The fact that it is digital allow a bit of a quicker check along the way, but both hyperlinks and footnotes do essentially the same thing for a storyline: they allow for a rich story to be unhindered by definitions and citations in every paragraph. It also allows for readers with differing background knowledge to still tackle the same text, albeit in different ways.

I'm glad you pointed that out.
After reading the first chapter in The Enchanted Braid my knowlage of coral reefs was precieved in a different way. How they are so diverse and full of life, yet in a smaller space. Coral reefs are often called "rainforests of the sea" but thats where it gets interesting and new to me. In the book Osha Gray Davidson states "In fact, coral reefs are often reffered to as "the rainforests of the sea". but while rainforests outdo coral reefs in sheer numbers of species, reefs contain far more phyla than do rainforests." "If we were not so terrestrial in our thinking, we might do better to call rainforests "the coral reefs of the land." coral reefs are mostly found in the shallow areas of the tropics, where sunlight is most abundant. They occupy about half the area of France and less than one tenth of one percent of the whole worlds ocean surface. Coral reefs hold a vast amount of marine life and with fewer space than the rainforest.Thats a good way to think about coral reefs and compare them especially in this book, where rainforests are similar. Because alot of people seem to know more about rainforests than coral reefs and its a great way to form ideas and learn how coral reefs really are rich in most of the oceans marine life. :)
Yes, those facts are pretty interesting when stated in that way, aren't they? The facts about the diversity of reefs squeezed down to very specific descriptions of land area allows us to get a really good "image" in our heads.
We know so little about something so big, the ocean. "It is surely ignorance that defines our intellectual relationship with the ocean." Just think about it... look at all the tecnology we have... now look at how little we know about the waters, and creatures of the deep. It's crazy whay we don't everything! I mean, we do know a lot about the ocean, but we are so far away from knowing everything about it. Giant squids for example.

“… Wherever you look on the reef, you will find life in astonishing variety and abundance.” Coral reefs are like America just one big melting pot! You can find thousands of types of the same thing just on one coral reef.
It gives you very specific information, "… a scientist has counted 620 species of shrimp living on corals.” That part just goes on and on, like a text book, kind of. A text book would also have pictures. Although “The Enchanted Braid” does not have pictures, the imagery in Davidson’s writing conveys a masterpiece in your head. So in a way it is and isn’t like a text book. “The bottom was absolutely hidden by a continuous series of corals, sponges…” A text book is a resource, not meant to be inspiring, this book is very inspiring!
I agree with you completely! I considered posting on here how I felt inspired after reading the first chapter, ridiculously excited for our on trip, and renewly dedicated to studying up! But, I thought to myself, everyone would think I was crazy to be inspired by this textbook reading assignment.. :)








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