Dorion Sagan is a celebrated writer, ecological philosopher, and author or coauthor of twenty-five books, which have been translated into fifteen languages (French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, German, Danish, Spanish, Hebrew, French, Portuguese, Turkish, Romanian, Catalan, and Basque). As an ecological theorist he has been at the forefront of bringing our growing understanding of symbiosis as a major force in evolution into the intellectual mainstream, both within science and the humanities, and rethinking the human body as a “multispecies organism.” Sagan has recently continued his lifelong efforts to decenter the human by proposing the concept of Cyanocene in response to the Anthropocene debates (e.g., “Coda: Beautiful Monsters: Terra in the Cyanocene,” Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet, University of Minnesota, 2017). A serial collaborator on scientific, intellectual, and artistic projects, Sagan’s work ethic follows that of evolving life, whose creativity derives largely from symbiotic merger and genetic recombination. With Carl Sagan and Lynn Margulis, his parents, he is coauthor of the entries for both “Life” and “Extraterrestrial Life” in the Encyclopedia Britannica. The international impact and collaborative character of his work is demonstrated, for example, by the fact that his writing is now regularly used in Japan for college preparation exams. Sagan’s close collaborations with multiple scientists from different fields including evolution, ecology, and thermodynamics have helped usher in new, more integral and realistic biological approaches which recognize humanity as a very recent part of a four billion year old biosphere, with important implications for both medicine and the long-term viability of the human species as a planetary life form. His coauthored critiques have helped effect a rapprochement between neo-Darwinism and the biochemistry and microbial ecology of group selection, one bearing fruits for example in the new emphasis among health professionals on the importance of the human microbiome. Sagan has published with university presses (e.g., Yale, Harvard, Oxford, MIT, and University of Chicago), including in anthologies edited by E. O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins in the sciences, and alongside luminaries such as John A. Wheeler, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Jean-Paul Sartre in humanities collections. Increasingly referenced and influential within both academia and popular culture, he is regularly cited by feminist theorists, environmentalists, and drug liberation advocates. Deleuzian political theorist William Connolly of John Hopkins University has described Dorion Sagan’s theorization of teleodynamism (explanations of the world that combine natural forces with micro-agency) as “pursu[ing] these theoretical and experimental lines while actively resisting capture by neoliberalism.” His work has appeared in Natural History, Smithsonian, Wired, Cabinet, and The New York Times, among other publications. He is a member of the Lindisfarne Association and the Advisory Network of Psymposia, as well as on the boards of Sputnik Inc and the Pioneer Valley Coral & Natural Science Institute. Nature magazine named the book to which he contributed, Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art as one of their Top Twenty books for 2016. In 2014 Kevin Kelly, for The Long Now Foundation, listed his book Biospheres: Metamporphosis of Planet Earth, a Selected Book for the Manual for Civilization. Son of astronomer-educator Carl Sagan and renowned American biologist Lynn Margulis, whose complex work he was the first to popularize, Dorion edited and introduced the 2012 collection, Lynn Margulis: The Life and Legacy of a Scientific Rebel, an IndieFab Award Winner in ForeWord Reviews’ Adult Nonfiction Biography category. He contributed to software developer Bill Atkinson’s digital photography book, Within the Stone, an American Photo “Best Photo Book of 2004” in the category of “Art and Science.” In 2003 he was Humana scholar at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky; in 1986 he won an Educational Press Association of America Excellence in Educational Journalism Award for the article, “The Riddle of Sex,” and in 1974 he won Blue Ribbon in the youth contest for sleight of hand in Silent Mora Ring 122, the Boston Chapter of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. He was called an “unmissable modern master” by Stephen Young in New Scientist; Nobel laureate Roald Hoffman tagged his book, Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life with Eric D. Schneider “fascinating”; and Melvin Konner, in The New York Times, wrote of Microcosmos, coauthored with long-time writing partner Lynn Margulis, that “this admiring reader of Lewis Thomas, Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould has seldom, if ever, seen such a luminous prose style in a work of this kind.” What is Life?, also coauthored with Margulis, was included on a list of “Mind-Altering Masterpieces” by the Utne Reader, and was called “A masterpiece of science writing” by Orion magazine. Sagan has also collaborated on books with British neuroscientist John Skoyles, biosphere system theorist Tyler Volk of New York University (Death/Sex), and theoretical biologist, Josh Mitteldorf (Cracking the Aging Code; UK, Australia: What Good is Death?). This last book, “the most original popular science book you’re likely to read this year,” according to Peter D. Kramer, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, mounts strong evidence that aging, genetically underlain, tends to prevent fast-growing species from overgrowing their ecosystems. Dorion’s current interests include fiction writing, literary criticism, philosophy, and the arts.

 

 

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