BY NHIEN NGUYEN
On Valentine’s Day, Ruth Ozeki blogged about being in the “throes of a romance, which has obsessed and inspired” her now for almost a week. But the obsession is not over a person, but a writing software called Scrivener.
It is not unusual for bestselling author Ozeki to marry the art of the written expression with technology. In fact, Ozeki has become a master of exploring the complex implications of science and technology on everyday life through the simplicity of elegant prose.
Ozeki visits the area to present a public talked entitled “HYBRID VIGOR: mixing science and fiction, splicing politics with poetics, and crossbreeding points of view” at Cascadia Community College in Bothell on Wednesday, Feb. 28.
The program is co-sponsored by the college’s Teaching and Learning Academy (TLA), whose goal is to bring speakers that will spur debate, critical inquiry and intellectual discourse in the area of learning, social responsibility and global thinking.
As an innovative thinker, Ozeki is a speaker that is able to do just that.
A hybrid herself – her father is Caucasian and her mother is Japanese – Ozeki’s breakthrough work in literature and films has inadvertently turned her into an organic food advocate.
Both of Ozeki’s novels have tackled food issues and farming practices. Her first book, “My Year of Meats,” delves into the effects of food science in meat. Her second novel, “All Over Creation,” addresses the biotech industry and gene splicing, in particular the effects of something as mundane as a potato.
Ozeki has always fascinated by science, she says, especially its impact on culture.
Science and technology affect who we are and what we become, impacting our lungs, our stomachs, our ability to reproduce, says Ozeki.
“In the world we live in now, a lot of the truly dramatic things happening are in the world of science and technology.”
David Ortiz, founding faculty of Cascadia Community College and instructor in media studies and communications, says Ozeki’s talk will be “refreshing,” because discussions of science and technology are often dominated by U.S. and male perspectives.
Ozeki believes that addressing important, political issues of today can be done through literary and creative work, as it is often an introduction of such issues for many people.
Ultimately, she says, “My novels are about people, not just DNA.”
When asked about other Asian Americans active in the environmental movement, she cited the work of Canadian David Suzuki, an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster, as a source of inspiration.
Though she believes it is important to focus on race and culture, she says, “Anybody who is alive and politically aware today has to be aware about environmental problems.”
Ozeki takes environmental stewardship seriously not only through her creative work, but also in her own personal life. She and her husband raise Chinese chickens at their home in Cortes Island, an idyllic and tranquil island north of Vancouver B.C. Chickens, which eat table scraps, help maintain and fertilize the grounds. She also studies Zen Buddhism, after seeing her grandparents sitting on the living room floor, which she later realized was meditation practices.
Ruth Ozeki presents her talk at Cascadia Communnity College, UWB2-005, at 3:30 p.m. www.cascadia.ctc.edu. Visit Ruth Ozeki’s Web site and blog at www.ruthozeki.com..