Ask most NJIT experts what's important about air and their thoughts might turn to chemistry, measurements, and data.
Ask the folks at Terra Nova Books, an NJIT publishing enterprise with editorial offices in Cullimore Hall, and they'd turn the question over to artists and writers.
That approach to studying nature has just resulted in Terra Nova's fifth volume in three years. It's called "Writing on Air," edited by NJIT's associate philosophy professor David Rothenberg and Terra Nova managing editor Wandee Pryor. Published by MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the 308-page volume has 33 pieces of writing and 27 illustrations. It retails for $29.95 and is available in stores or online through major booksellers, or from MIT Press at 800-356-0343. Two-thirds of the pieces are original, the others reprints, says Pryor.
Ranging in literary style from a Utah teacher's first-person encounter with a tornado, to an emphysema patient's thoughts on trying to get enough air, to Rothenberg's Q&A with architects who created an artificial cloud and call it a building, the selections are all about how people interact with the natural world. Much of it is about the writers' feelings and emotions.
How does that sit with a university where the focus is on technology?
"It's a very necessary balance for NJIT, " says Pryor, who has worked in advertising and also written two plays. From helping scientists put their work into prose that can be better understood she says she has learned that scientists have as much passion and feeling as writers and artists. "Scientists have great heart. Their relationship to their work is often filled with love, intrigue, and passion," she says.---Gale Scott
The publication will be celebrated 7 p.m. Thursday, September 11 at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, N.Y. It's a free event featuring readings by contributors. Call (973) 642-4673 for details.