This presentation featured a series of video interviews conducted with the champion of symbiosis and co-author of the Gaia hypothesis, the late American evolutionary theorist Lynn Margulis (1939-2011). Observers have increasingly heralded Margulis’s scientific work and writings as instrumental for a paradigm shift toward the systemic connectedness of all life from its cellular foundations to its planetary expressions.
Margulis scholar and Blumberg Astrobiology Chair Bruce Clarke screened multiple video clips from thirty years of Margulis interviews, followed by short commentaries on the concepts and contexts at play and invitations to audience discussion.
The videos covered the following topics from Margulis’s scientific work: “The Origin of Mitochondria,” “Life is a Connected Phenomenon,” “Gaian Regulation—The System Bounces Back,” “The Tissue of Gaia: Delta del Ebro, Spain,” “From Life to Symbiosis,” and with reference to her British collaborator on Gaia theory, “Lovelock, Autopoiesis, and Ecosystems.”
The presentation concluded with Margulis reciting works of Emily Dickinson by heart, closing with a four-poem medley evoking the seasonal cycles of the biosphere. Starting with spring and ending with winter, she performs “A little madness in the spring,” “A soft sea washed about the house,” “These are the days when the birds come back,” and “The sky is low—the clouds are mean.”
The presentation was designed to cultivate an enhanced appreciation for the visionary quality of Margulis’s scientific sensibility and an informed understanding of its ongoing relevance to our current ecological crises.