It’s raining tonight in my heart as I dwell on the thought that Kevin is cleaning-out his desk here at Deep Sea News. My colleague, my co-author, my friend, my partner in microbrews, my blog-brother, my fellow DSN suite noise-maker, and my mentor for soulful science writing has decided to dedicate himself fully to a new chapter of his life in Swedonia. I hear it may have something to do with producing a fermented grain organic suspension that will be mass marketed by Ikea under the name, Knäppgök, Knutstorp or Ödmjuk. While alcoholic fermentation sure sounds like science to me, I’ll defer to the experts on this matter.
Though I’ve spent far fewer hours together with Kevin offline than on, the precious few times I’ve collided in meat-space with him have been what can only described as a symposium in it’s most original Greek meaning: “to drink together to debate, plot, boast, celebrate music, and simply to revel with others.”
Kevin is symposiast extraordinaire! With our fellow Deeplings, we talked, shouted, debated, and argued crackpot science, crap blogs, broken academia, scientists-as-writers, field work, stupid fucking dolphins, and our hopes and dreams for DSN world domination. Some of our discussions made it into our online writing over the years. A lot still lingers as great seed ideas waiting to germinate. But what has always struck me about Kevin’s science writing is his utter fearlessness to let the reader know him. Fuck, I admire that quality.
Moreso than other online science writers, Kevin is able to tap into an emotional narrative that elevates his writing to being more than just story, structure, and content. So much of Kevin’s writing is about exposing himself as well as his ideas. I wish I could write from the heart or the gut as well as Kevin. Those of you familiar with Kevin’s writing that was shaped by the challenges he faced when his son Elliot fell ill last year probably felt how he was a raw, aching nerve. It may not always have been his intention to convey this side of himself, but the effect has always been powerful.
Take for instance his Embracing Personal Experience on Our Rise Through Science piece from DSN last year. You get Kevin’s unfiltered personal narrative arc of his scientific career. He followed this up later with I Am Science over on Scientific American. And not to suggest Kevin is at his best when sharing only his frustrations, the unfettered joy he exuded during his Darwin and the Adventure reports with Karen James from Brazil in 2009 show Kevin flexing his science outreach muscles in the field. And let’s not forget his leadership in helping to build the currently robust online science community and his commitment to science in the classroom through his leadership on the Donors Choose drives over the years.
It’s going to be a lot quieter in the DSN submersible cocktail lounge with Kevin coaxing flavor out of Chinook hops in the Scandanavian countryside instead of coaxing meaning out of the latest deep sea research paper. But I have an inkling we haven’t heard the last from him. The sea has remarkable restorative powers.
So much cheer and much love to you, Kevin, as well as Linda, Freya, Elliot, and Peaches! I raise a Drakes Denogginizer Imperial IPA in your honor! I can’t think of when these words by Melville have carried more meaning than when I read them again tonight while thinking of you, my friend:
Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.