Michael Green Fonte, a long-time admirer of E.O. Wilson’s work, passed away unexpectedly on December 4th. Following Michael’s death, family and friends came together to write this blog about Michael, and share anecdotes about how E.O. Wilson inspired his research and life.
An evolutionary film theorist, newspaperman, and film consultant, Michael Green Fonte was driven by a great desire for learning. He was described by his closest friends as an amazing spark and a true intellect. He studied evolutionary theory at Cambridge University in England and Russian propaganda cinema at the University of Labor and Social Relations in Moscow, Russia. Michael went on to obtain his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and later his Master’s degree in English with a concentration in evolutionary film studies from Binghamton University. He recently completed his PhD in Evolutionary Film Studies also from Binghamton University, an endeavor which was inspired by E.O. Wilson.
Michael had an insatiable thirst for learning. He didn’t learn to gain practical knowledge or to learn how to do something, he sought knowledge in all areas with the intent to synthesize all of the disparate parts, to understand how all the parts of this complex world fit together and relate to each other. On a very fundamental level, he wanted to know how the world worked. It was as early as high school that Michael began toying with these ideas, pitching the idea that this world might be a computer program, written by someone not special but of an advanced race.
One of the most exciting times in Michael’s life was when he first read E.O. Wilson’s Consilience, one of Wilson’s most famous books aimed at uniting the sciences and the humanities—the heart of Michael’s passion. This was the work that changed his life and inspired him to take the career path he did throughout his graduate studies over the next decade of his life.
Michael considered E.O. Wilson to be the most brilliant person alive and his work to be the absolute paragon of the entire progression, evolution, study, and understanding of the human race, and of all life on earth. Michael equated the importance of Wilson’s work with Sociobiology as the modern day equivalent of Charles Darwin’s original contributions to the theory of evolution. It is amazing how much influence both Wilsons, E.O. Wilson and David Sloan Wilson, had on his formative years as an evolutionary theorist and scientist. Michael completed his graduate and PhD work at Binghamton University, under the direction and guidance of his mentor, evolutionist Dr. David Sloan Wilson.
At one point during college, Michael wrote a treatment for a proposed television series called Edward O. which would feature a teenage Wilson exploring the earthly biome while secretly discovering a highly advanced giant ant civilization living deep within the earth, complete with factions comprised of those who wanted to co-exist with human and those who wanted to turn them into drones for the advancement of their own species. Michael conceived the project to be in the vein of Indiana Jones meets Harry Potter, but with a brilliant young myrmecologist serving as the protagonist.
Just recently at the start of Michael’s dissertation defense in November of this year, he held up a copy of Consilience and proudly announced that it was this book that had motivated his research and inspired him to study how the evolutionary sciences could be applied to film. It was the same tattered book Michael had been carrying around since high school.
Michael was inspired by beauty. During long road trips with friends in which they spent days in remote sections of national parks, Michael often took time to soak in the beauty around him, stooping to watch ants at work, or stopping to marvel at the scars of a flash flood, or hiking somewhere to watch a sunset. We will remember Michael’s passion for life. His passion to uncover the true source of life and meaning. His sharp mind. And energy. And beauty. And creativity. And stories.
Services for Michael Green Fonte were held at Wright Funeral Home in Philippi, WV on Tuesday, December 8th. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial donations in Michael’s name be made to the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation at https://eowilsonfoundation.org/. The Foundation is very grateful for these gifts, and is pleased to share Michael’s story as an inspiration to others who share his curiosity and passion and drive to make a difference.