Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oil, Art, Culture

Wallace Stegner is very dear to my heart as a novelist, humanist, and one of the first American intellectuals to attempt to debunk the Myth of the West (as in western USA) as a first step to saving the ecosystems of the land west of the Mississippi. Many years ago, while researching his writings in the American Authors Series, I came across a piece that he had written about the discovery of oil, "Discovery! The Dramatic Saga of the Search for Oil in the Arabian Sands". This book came out in 1971, and if I correctly recall, he was chastised by many for writing about that dirty word "oil". In finding this book, I also found out about a twice-monthly publication, at the time called Aramco World, now called Saudi Aramco World. This publication is available online and in paper copy. The stated purpose of the publication is to "broaden knowledge of of the cultures, history, and geography of the Arab and Muslim worlds and their connections with the West". The articles are superbly researched, written, and the photography and layout superb. The current issue has virtual tours of Islamic art in ten physical locations around the world: its worth a visit!

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