|THE HOME PLANET.
The New York Times
December 11, 1988
©1988 The New York Times
THE HOME PLANET. Edited by Kevin W.
Kelley. (Addlson-Wesley, $40.00) This
selection of photographs of Earth taken from
space by men and machines and annotated by
those who have been in space, is not a coffee-
table book, it is a photographic
psalmbook, a biblical recitation as though the
optic nerve of mankind were beholding the
immense seedbed from which all cognizance
sprang. It is a reminder of the merely
miraculous fact that some half-billion years
ago or so, the genetic ferment of Earth brought
forth The Eye. Commencing with primitive
solar-sensitive animalcules and raising the
gift of perception up through the
climbing plants and flowers eager for light and
turning with the passage of day across the sky,
until the gift was bestowed on the mammals
that became man. Now, very late in unclocked
time, that same man has armed his retina with
a lensed and chemically sensitive box and
hurled it round the world to capture tidal
waves of illumination and revelations of
continental islands and ocean seas on which
and in which seems no life. So "Home Planet"
belongs on a podium in some place like a silent
cathedral or a quiet wayside church. It
shows us a planetary Eden from which not God
but only ourselves can cause a fall from grace
and our imminent departure. The book suggests
singing, not the old American patriots'
O beautiful blue world in Space
Pure light on land and sea.
Unseen man's ancient birthing-place
God shed his grace on thee.
Its pages record the gift of Eye — seeing the
Earth in space — as a way to keep us attuned
to exploration in our next century. It is a
religious text without a church, without a
sermon, in no need of sermoners. All because
its photographers cried Light, and lo, this book