Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ed Ricketts & Pacific Biological Laboratories

While in Cali last week I was lucky enough to complete a bit of a literary pilgrimage in Salinas and Monterey by touring the Steinbeck Museum and paying homage to Ed Ricketts by stopping by his old lab site at 800 Cannery Row. The neighborhood is a tourist trap now but some really great stuff took place there back in the day. Some of Ricketts' philosophy is folded into Steinbeck's The Log of the Sea of Cortez in the Easter section and there is another book called The Renaissance Man of Cannery Row edited by K. Rodger worth reading that is a biographical sketch and a collection of letters. The character of 'Doc' in Cannery Row is based on Ricketts and the following is a favorite quote:

"It has always seemed strange to me, said Doc. The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second." — John Steinbeck Cannery Row