Top Tier (4 to 5 stars)

Why fish don’t exist, by Lulu Miller

4 stars

A story of loss, love and the hidden order of life – that’s what I’ve been promised. And the prologue digs right into the theme of loss by bringing upon us the second law of thermodynamics. You probably know it – and if you don’t, you better get to know to it: Lulu Miller is a science journalist, and she does get nerdy in her writing. But not too nerdy, and she keeps a light touch with a sense of humour.

Parasites, meanwhile, were clear lowlifes, the lot of them. Just look at how they earned their living: they mooched and deceived and freeloaded.

About the order of life, the Scala Naturae

But let’s start with the subtitle. Loss, love and the hidden order of life – that sounds a little sad, but also a little hopeful. And I dare say it is – and it’s also not a story about the things mentioned before. Or at least not only about those things.

For me, this is a book about resilience before everything else. And that’s what we need, oh how we need it! The past two years have been terrible (in the overall sense and on a global scale). That damn pandemic is still raging on, a madman dreams about restoring historic borders by use of heavy weapons and violence, and between news about all those atrocities the ecological crisis gets worse day by day. It’s already enough to bring us to our knees.

What’s there to keep us up, to help us stand tall, shoulders high, heads erected? Resilience. (Or maybe stubbornness. I’m open to discussions about whether resilience is its own thing or just plain old stubbornness dressed in a fancy suit and using a cultivated sounding nom de guerre.)

Lulu Miller retells the story of David Starr Jordan in this book, and she does it in a way that is fun to read – while mixing it with her own life. I’m not sure she could have planned it this way, so I think this is just one of those coincidences that sometimes accidentally create beautiful results.

Because by setting her own life against the backdrop of David Starr Jordan, a beautiful view is created. David, the son of Puritans who needed a godly excuse to become a scientist, a naturalist, a way to explain to his parents that he was not wasting away the day, rather doing godly work. And Lulu, the daughter of a biochemist dad telling her about the ever growing entropy being the only god in existence. Sounds like worlds apart, but they have more in common than you think. We all have.

The key takeaway therefore is this: never give up. That’s the motto, old as time, and David Starr Jordan via Lulu Miller has a lot to teach us about this.

You have just been rickrolled!

There is also a dark side, to everything and everyone in life. You will learn a lot about resilience and the grit to go on while reading this book, bit you’ll also learn about eugenics and man made horror. David Starr Jordan is a man you might not have heard of before, but it’s someone you should know about. For good or evil, that’s up to you to decide. The story of David is, in my eyes, also a warning – you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain.

I highly recommend you read this book. Whether you’re at a low point of your life or not, this book is something that will help you.

There is grandeur in this view of life.

By Stefan

father of two, not enough time to read everything I want to read

2 replies on “Why fish don’t exist, by Lulu Miller”

A very excellent review, Stefan. I am tempted to read this one. Alas, I concentrated on the arts and pooh poohed the sciences. Back in my day, you could build your degree without them at Uni. Nowadays, you need to line your basket with all kinds of courses in order to get a degree. I actually had to look a lot of things up to make heads or tails of the use of the word entropy. But the penny has dropped. I really enjoyed your philosophical and skillful use of the English language here. Bravo!

Liked by 1 person

Luckily enough, Lulu had a way to tell her story without too much science, but it is there, in the background.

And the final explanation why fish really don’t exist is indeed rather scienc-y. Because it’s true – fish really don’t exist.

Thank you very much for the compliment! I’m blushing behind the display here. ☺️

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