Short Non-Fiction

For my short non-fiction section of my reading project, I am picking through a few National Geographic magazines for spunky articles.

From the April 2016 issue:

p. 30 – “The Crossing” – “Whether her brain was still functional or not, I don’t think her humanity was gone.”

In this article, there is a balance achieved between known science, conjectured science and emotion. The topic is about death as an event versus a progression and how brain dead fits in. This quote stood out because it was a doctor that choose to speak as a friend and a parent rather than a physician. With such strong emotion coming from a credible source, this statement carries much weight as to how the essence of a person can be maintained.

death in toraja

p. 53 – “Where Death Doesn’t Mean Goodbye” – “Daniel wears new trousers and looks slightly surprised, as if peering out from behind new wire-rimmed glasses. He died in 2012 after 20 years with diabetes.”

I had to read this section a couple of times in order to grasp what was going on. Discussing the death rituals of the Torajans of Indonesia, these people preserve the bodies of the deceased and follow  highly social and traditional care of them. This quote stood out to me because of the lifelike imagery attributed to Daniel. His family attempts to keep his body in prime condition and continues to bring him food and clean clothing. This subject as a whole is rather curious, for the departed are treated in a celebration as if they were here. The line between life and death is clear, but the good-bye is nearly nonexistent with at least annual check-ins on the usually.


p.70 – “Every Last One” – “Sartore has taken portraits of animals that may be saved-but also of animals that are doomed…” “…”‘Do I think that the rhinos going away is sad?’ Sartore says. ‘It’s not just sad. It’s epic.'”

The article continued with the theme of death, but in a different way. It discusses a photographer’s mission to document animals, some of which are horrendously close to extinction. The rhinos discussed are northern white rhinos, a species of which only three organisms remain. This quote stood out to me because of its provocative diction. These animals are doomed,  it’s really a pandemic. Sardore’s project encompasses thousands of species (5679 currently).  Around the globe, species large and small are on the downfall of existence. Some could be saved, granted publicity that will spark donation and greater efforts. Others, such as the northern white rhino, lack any hope.


p.86 – “Urban Parks” – “what became clear is that urban parks aren’t a substitute for the enormous and often remote parks that protect our most majestic forests and mountains and canyons. They serve a different purpose; the truth is, we need both.”

This excerpt from the first section of the article serves to define the purpose of the piece – to explain what urban parks are and why they are necessary and good. The part of this chunk that caught my attention was the last sentence. By switching to a shorter, more direct statement, the author underscores this thought. The semicolon connects the two thoughts that, although independent in theory, are dependent on each other to capture the inner nature of the argument. The urban parks, although artificial in composition, serve to reconnect city dwellers with nature. They are a viable way to close the gap between everyday life and natural places to relax.


–ends on page 107–


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