Wilderness

Dec. 4th, 2009 10:15 pm
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"The word 'wilderness' occurs approximately three hundred times in the Bible, and all its meanings are derogatory."
--René Dubos, The Wooing of Earth, 1980


An interesting take on Cronon's idea of wilderness.
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"Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste." -Wallace Stegner, letter to David E. Pesonen of the Wildland Research Center, December 3, 1960

Stegner's quote here is an almost-perfect version of William Cronon's "The Trouble with Wilderness"--why is the "remaining wilderness" so sacred? Why does Stegner call the forests "virgin"? Oooh, religious imagery. Or "the last clear air," "the stinks of human and automotive waste"? I see Cronon's point here; Stegner leaves precisely no room for humans in this quotation, which is a problem.
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"...[respecting nature] means practicing remembrance and gratitude, for thanksgiving is the simplest and most basic of ways for us to recollect the nature, the culture, and the history that have come together tomake the world as we know it."

--William Cronon, from "The Touble with Wilderness." Just thought I would share, as the line seems so apt, considering that Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Can you imagine giving thanks to Nature instead of...well, who is it we Americans are thanking, anyway? God?

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving! Think about where your food really comes from this Thanksgiving.
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"Human destiny is bound to remain a gamble, because at some unpredictable time and in some unforeseeable manner nature will strike back." ~Rene Dubos, Mirage of Health, 1959

Yeah, this quote reminds me of the film The Happening and the planet trying to kill us, perhaps for good reason. Though Cronon's essay is an interesting text on how we have to work together with nature...

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