Jack London's best writing was about his time in the Klondike. The cold, the misery, the cruelty, the humanity. Like any writer worth reading he can spot the essence of a thing and breathe it to life. No small feat in the lifeless terrain out of which he wrote his most compelling works. Below, from his story White Silence, he reminds us of our vulnerability against the unruly elements. How is this sacred? How is it not?
The afternoon wore on, and with the awe, born of the White Silence, the voiceless travelers bent to their work. Nature has many tricks wherewith she convinces man of his finity -- the ceaseless flow of the tides, the fury of the storm, the shock of the earthquake, the long roll of heaven's artillery -- but the most tremendous, stupefying of all, is the passive phase of the White Silence. All movement ceases, the sky clears, the heavens are as brass; the slightest whisper seems sacrilege, and man becomes timid, affrighted at the sound of his own voice. Sole speck of life journeying across the ghostly wastes of a dead world, he trembles at his audacity, realizes that his is a maggot's life, nothing more. Strange thoughts arise unsummoned, and the mystery of all things strives for utterance. And the fear of death, of God, of the universe, comes over him -- the hope of the Ressurection and the Life, the yearning for immortality, the vain striving of the imprisoned essence -- it is then, if ever, man walks alone with God.