The trouble with wilderness
Download
1 / 51

The trouble with wilderness - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • 366 Views
  • Updated On :

The trouble with wilderness. By William Cronon, in “Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature.” EHUF 362 Lecture 5. The idea of wilderness has been a fundamental tenet of the environmental movement for decades.

loader
I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
capcha
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'The trouble with wilderness' - libitha


An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
The trouble with wilderness
The trouble with wilderness

  • By William Cronon, in “Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature.”

    EHUF 362 Lecture 5


The idea of wilderness has been a fundamental tenet of the environmental movement for decades
The idea of wilderness has been a fundamental tenet of the environmental movement for decades.

  • “that last place where civilization (the human disease) has not infected the earth”

  • “the place we can turn to for escape”

  • Henry David Thoreau: “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”


Actually wilderness is a human creation
Actually, wilderness is a human creation environmental movement for decades.

  • Created by particular human cultures

  • At particular times in history

  • 250 years ago there were few people wandering the remote corners of the earth looking for the “wilderness experience”.


Terror
Terror environmental movement for decades.

  • In the late 18th century, wilderness referred to places that were: desolate, deserted, savage, barren, wastelands.

  • In the King James Bible, wilderness was used over and over again to refer to places on the margin of civilization, where it was all too easy to lose one’s self in confusion and despair.

  • Wilderness was a place one came to against one’s will, and in fear and trembling.


By the end of the 19 th century wilderness had changed
By the end of the 19 environmental movement for decades.th century, wilderness had changed

  • Wilderness had once been referred to as the darkness at the edge of Paradise, into which Adam and Eve were driven.

  • Now it was frequently referred to as Eden itself.


People began to trek to sites that had been designated as places of wild beauty
People began to trek to sites that had been designated as places of wild beauty:

  • Niagara Falls

  • Catskills

  • Adirondacks

  • Yosemite (in 1864, nation’s first wildland park)

  • Yellowstone (in 1872, first true national park)


Hetch hetchy
Hetch Hetchy places of wild beauty:

  • Most famous episode in American conservation history

  • In first decade of 20th century

  • City of San Francisco proposed to dam the Tuolumne R. in the Hetch Hetchy valley, well within Yosemite National Park


Hetch hetchy lost
Hetch Hetchy lost places of wild beauty:

  • John Muir led fight, but lost.

  • The damming galvanized the emerging movement to preserve wilderness.

  • 50 years earlier, few people would have questioned “reclaiming” such a wasteland.

  • Muir portrayed it as desecration; flooding the valley was “the work of the Devil”.


Sources of transformation of the perception of wilderness
Sources of transformation of the perception of wilderness places of wild beauty:

  • The sublime

  • The frontier


The sublime
The sublime places of wild beauty:

  • Sublime landscapes in the 18th century were those in which one had more chances to glimpse the face of God.

  • Sacred places

  • If Satan was there, then so was Christ

  • Places of grandeur, great beauty

  • Mountain as cathedral



The national myth of the frontier
The national myth of the frontier romantic concept of the domesticated sublime.

  • May have its roots in the primitivism of Rosseau; the belief that the best antidote to the ills of civilization is a return to simple, more primitive living.


The frontier and american character
The frontier and American character romantic concept of the domesticated sublime.

  • Historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 described the way the frontier molded the national character:

    • Easterners and Europeans moved west into wild unsettled lands

    • They shed civilization

    • Rediscovered primitive racial energies

    • Reinvented direct democratic institutions

    • Reinforced themselves with a vigor, independence and creativity that were the source of American Democracy and national character


The frontier was temporary
The frontier was temporary romantic concept of the domesticated sublime.

  • Based on free land

  • “In the myth of the vanishing frontier lay the seeds of wilderness preservation”

  • Set-asides for national parks occurred just when sentiment about passing frontier peaked

  • Individual freedom was an important theme


How invented is the idea of american wilderness
How invented is the idea of American wilderness? romantic concept of the domesticated sublime.

  • The fact that Indians had to be removed from it remind us how artificial it is.

  • A flight from history; a place to escape from our world and past.

  • “The dream of an unworked natural landscape is usually had by people who never had to work the land to eat.”


Central paradox
Central paradox: romantic concept of the domesticated sublime.

  • “Wilderness embodies a vision in which the human is entirely outside the natural; if nature is wild, our presence there is its downfall. Where we are is where nature is not.”


William Cronon: romantic concept of the domesticated sublime.

“If nature and humans are on two poles, we will never discover what the ethical, sustainable human place in nature is.”


A common perspective is that nature to be natural must be pristine
A common perspective is that nature, to be natural, must be pristine.

  • But, people have been manipulating the natural world for as long as we have a record of people.

  • And, many environmental changes we now face have occurred quite apart from human intervention in the earth’s past.


Idealizing a distant wilderness means not idealizing the environment where we live
Idealizing a distant wilderness means not idealizing the environment where we live

  • Most environmental problems are at home.

  • We need an environmental ethic that tells us as much about using nature as it does about not using it.

  • Wildness …there are plenty of wild things where we live.


ad