Rothenberg, David 1962-
ROTHENBERG, David 1962-
(David B. Rothenberg)
PERSONAL: Born July 8, 1962, in New York, NY; son of Abraham Joseph and Barbara Ann (Henkin) Rothenberg; married Stephanie E. Bothwell, October 6, 1990; divorced February, 1994. Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1984; Boston University, Ph.D., 1991.
ADDRESSES: Home and office—6 Fishkill Ave., Cold Spring, NY 10516. Office—New Jersey Institute of Technology, Department of Humanities, 317 Cullimore, University Heights, Newark, NJ 07102. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Musician, educator, composer, and writer. New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, assistant professor, then associate professor of philosophy, beginning 1990. Adjunct professor at Babson College, 1992, and Antioch New England Graduate School, 1990–91; Banff Centre for Arts, Canada, artist-in-residence, 1991. Founder of Artemis Ensemble. Composer for theatrical productions Woyzeck, Waiting by the Water's Edge, and Tibetan Book of the Dead; films such as Love Is Deaf; and PBS television series Parliament of Minds. Musician on recordings such as Nobody Could Explain It, Accurate, 1991; On the Cliffs of the Heart, 1995; Unamuno, 1997; Bangalore Wild, 1999; Before the War, 2000; and Soo Roo, 2004. Editor of music compilation Music from Nature. Has worked as a consultant for CNN, BBC, and Norwegian Broadcasting Company; consulting philosopher for World's Fair Expo, 2000. Member, Institute for Human Ecology.
MEMBER: International Association for Philosophy and Literature, International Society for Environmental Ethics, American Philosophy Association, American Society for Forest History, Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, Orion Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Westinghouse Science Talent Search winner, 1980; Hoopes Prize, 1984; Robert Fitzgerald Translation Prize, 1988, for Wisdom in the Open Air: The Norwegian Roots of Deep Ecology; Boston University grant, 1988; Ira-Hiti Foundation grant, 1992; Templeton Foundation grantee, 1995; Foundation for Deep Ecology grant, 1994; New Jersey Institute of Technology grant, 1993.
Walking with the Trees: Twelve Hikes in and around Fairfield County, Aspetuck River Press (Westport, CT), 1978.
(Translator and reviser) Arne Naess, Ecology, Community, and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, NY), 1989.
Is It Painful to Think?: Conversations with Arne Naess, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1993.
(Editor, with Peter Reed) Wisdom in the Open Air: The Norwegian Roots of Deep Ecology, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1993.
Hand's End: Technology and the Limits of Nature, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1993.
(Editor) Wild Ideas, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1995.
(Editor, with Marta Ulvaeus) The New Earth Reader: The Best of Terra Nova, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.
(Editor, with Eric Katz and Andrew Light) Beneath the Surface: Critical Essays in the Philosophy of Deep Ecology, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.
(Editor, with Michael Tobias and J. Patrick Fitzgerald) A Parliament of Minds: Philosophy for a New Millennium, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 2000.
(Editor, with Marta Ulvaeus) Writing on Water, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Blue Cliff Record: A Poetic Echo, Codhill Press (New Paltz, NY), 2001.
(Editor, with Marta Ulvaeus) The World and the Wild, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 2001.
(Editor, with Marta Ulvaeus) The Book of Music and Nature: An Anthology of Sounds, Words, Thoughts, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 2001.
Always the Mountains, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2002.
Sudden Music: Improvisation, Sound, Nature, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2002.
(Editor, with Wandee J. Pryor) Writing on Air, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.
(Editor, with Wandee J. Pryor) Writing the Future: Progress and Evolution, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Why Birds Sing: A Journey into the Mystery of Bird Song, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2005.
(Editor, with Wandee J. Pryor) Writing the World: On Globalization, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Musicworks, Orion, CEO, Earth Ethics, Wired, Nation, Amicus Journal, Parabola, and Chronicle of Higher Education. Assistant editor, Ecologist; founding editor, Terra Nova, 1995.
ADAPTATIONS: Hand's End was adapted by Morton Subotnik into the multimedia opera Intimate Immensity.
SIDELIGHTS: Author, musician, philosophy professor, and ecologist David Rothenberg expresses a diverse interest in the natural world through the many books, he has written and edited. He also explores the purposes and variations of bird song from the perspective of a musician and recording artist in Why Birds Sing: A Journey into the Mystery of Bird Song. "If the voice of an animal is not heard as message but as art, interesting things start to happen: Nature is no longer inscrutable, some alien puzzle, but instead immediately something beautiful, a source of exuberant song, a tune with some space for us to join in, at once a creative place for humanity to join in," Rothenberg commented on the Ashden Directory Web site. Why Birds Sing describes Rothenberg's search for answers to why bird song is beautiful as well as practical (for attracting mates and staking out territory). He also relates the experience of having a musical jam session with a number of birds at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. A white-crested thrush interacted with Rothenberg as he played clarinet, improvising and responding to the notes of the instrument. "This lovely amalgam of science and music will appeal to both left- and right-brained readers," commented Nancy Bent in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called it "impressive and stimulating: an enticing exploration, from the artist's perspective, into the largely unanalyzed subject of birdsong."
Music can be found anywhere, Rothenberg maintains, and in Sudden Music: Improvisation, Sound, Nature he describes how music can be discerned in the cacophony of cities, in the solitude of nature, in human conversation, and even in the hum of industrial machinery. He explains "how and why musicians and non-musicians alike should tap into this interconnected symphony by nature's orchestra," wrote Brent Hagerman in Alternatives Journal. An accompanying audio CD provides examples of Rothenberg's theories in the form of such musical sounds as chanting monks, insect calls, street noises, the words and rhythms of sacred texts, and world musical instruments. "It is refreshing to read an author who talks about music in context of the spirituality inherent to playing, composing, listening to, and thinking about music," remarked Hagerman.
Rothenberg has served as editor or coeditor of a number of volumes on nature, natural resources, music, and society. Writing on Water and Writing on Air contain diverse writings, both fiction and nonfiction, on two of nature's fundamental elements, which humankind sometimes seems determined to pollute beyond use. The book includes science essays, poetry, fiction, photographs, and other artistic and philosophical explications of the nature of water and air in nature and in human life. The contributions in Writing on Water "stir consciousness and conscience, while exceptional photographs complement the text," noted a Publishers Weekly critic. A Whole Earth contributor reflected that "Good writing flows like water, and this book gushes with torrents of words that dance and ebb and eddy and swirl."
The New Earth Reader: The Best of Terra Nova collects a number of noteworthy contributions to the magazine Terra Nova, which Rothenberg founded and edited. He and coeditor Marta Ulvaeus present fiction, interviews, and essays that espouse and further the cause of environmentalism. "Overall, the selections fulfill the journal's mission to seek unexpected ways to heal the split between nature and culture," noted a writer in Publishers Weekly.
The World and the Wild, also edited by Rothenberg and Ulvaeus, provides contributions that explore the sometimes fractious debate between biocentric and anthropocentric proponents of wilderness management, preservation, and conservation. The volume's strength lies in "its juxtaposition of intellectual and emotive writing to unite these two spuriously opposed positions and thereby demonstrate the many ways in which wilderness becomes translated politically, physically and psychologically," commented Chui-Ling Tam in Environments. In his introduction, Rothenberg "makes a strong case for preserving wilderness simply because it is valuable for our humanity," noted E.N. Anderson in Pacific Affairs. The book "serves as an introduction to the range of thought and approaches to environmental philosophy and environmental management, and thus will expand the concept(s) of wilderness for some," Tam observed. "As a bonus, it happens to be very well written."
Rothenberg is a proponent of the concept of deep ecology, and several of his books focus on prominent thinkers and ideas in that area. Is It Painful to Think?: Conversations with Arne Naess explores the ideas and thought of Naess, the principal force behind the development of the concept of deep ecology. Deep ecology "seeks to fundamentally reorient human societies and their institutions to establish a new ecocentric relationship with the natural world," noted David Orton in Alternatives. Naess points out, though, that he only articulated the movement's name; it existed long before it was ever codified. Wisdom in the Open Air: The Norwegian Roots of Deep Ecology "presents the history and foundation of radical environmentalism from its roots in the mountains and fjords of Scandinavia," wrote a biographer on Planetwork.net. Rothenberg received the Robert Fitzgerald prize for some of the translations in the volume.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Alternatives, September-October, 1994, David Orton, review of Is It Painful to Think?: Conversations with Arne Naess, p. 40.
Alternatives Journal, summer, 2002, Brent Hagerman, "Deep Music," review of Sudden Music: Improvisation, Sound, Nature, p. 40.
Booklist, March 15, 2005, Nancy Bent, review of Why Birds Sing: A Journey into the Mystery of Bird Song, p. 1253.
E, March-April, 2002, "The Sounds Around," review of The Book of Music and Nature: An Anthology of Sounds, Words, Thoughts, p. 61; March-April, 2003, Jim Motavalli, "First There Is a Mountain," review of Always the Mountains, p. 58.
Environments, November, 2002, Chui-Ling Tam, review of The World and the Wild, p. 81.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005, review of Why Birds Sing, p. 170.
Library Journal, December, 1999, Nancy Patterson Shires, review of The New Earth Reader: The Best of Terra Nova, p. 134; April 15, 2001, Stephanie Maher, review of Writing on Water, p. 95; March 1, 2005, Robert Eagan, review of Why Birds Sing, p. 109.
Natural History, April, 2002, review of Sudden Music, p. 96.
Pacific Affairs, winter, 2002, E.N. Anderson, review of The World and the Wild, p. 588.
Publishers Weekly, November 29, 1999, review of The New Earth Reader, p. 63; May 28, 2001, review of Writing on Water, p. 70; February 21, 2005, review of Why Birds Sing, p. 167.
Quarterly Review of Biology, March, 2005, Michael R. Dietrich, review of Writing the Future: Progress and Evolution, p. 119.
Science, September 26, 2003, review of Writing on Air, p. 1850.
Whole Earth, spring, 1999, review of Music from Nature (sound recording), p. 62; fall, 2000, review of The New Earth Reader, p. 103; winter, 2001, review of Writing on Water, p. 38; spring, 2002, The World and the Wild, p. 95.
Ashden Directory Online, http://www.ashdendirectory.org.uk/ (June 18, 2005), "How an Artist Plays: David Rothenberg Jams with the Birds."
David Rothenberg Home Page, http://www.davidrothenberg.net (June 18, 2005).
GuruskoolMusic.com, http://www.guruskoolmusic.com/ (June 18, 2005), "David Rothenberg."
New Jersey Institute of Technology Web site, http://www.njit.edu/ (June 18, 2005), "David Rothenberg."
Planetwork.net, http://www.planetwork.net/ (June 18, 2005), "David Rothenberg."
WhyBirdsSing.com, http://www.whybirdssing.com/ (June 18, 2005).