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Encounters with the Archdruid John McPhee. Presented by: Emily Krodel September 20, 2005. JOHN A. McPHEE. Born in 1931 Educated at Princeton & Cambridge Began writing for Time magazine, New Yorker 29 books 1977 received Award in Literature from American Academy of Arts and Letters

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Encounters with the Archdruid John McPhee

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    1. Encounters with the ArchdruidJohn McPhee Presented by: Emily Krodel September 20, 2005

    2. JOHN A. McPHEE • Born in 1931 • Educated at Princeton & Cambridge • Began writing for Time magazine, New Yorker • 29 books • 1977 received Award in Literature from American Academy of Arts and Letters • 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Annals of the Former World – “It’s pretty nice.”

    3. MORE McPHEE • Widely considered pioneer of the genre of literary non-fiction (New Journalism) • Subjects are eclectic, reflecting his personal interests… aircraft, arc of tennis balls, canoes, farmers’ markets, MS River, geology, Alaskan wilderness, oranges • Married twice – Yolanda!; 4 daughters • Distinguished nonfiction writing instructor at Princeton – still teaches at 74

    4. EVEN MORE McPHEE • Despite a voluminous production, as a person he remains elusive • Modest – nothing more than an “old journalist” • Loves rivers and the outdoors – probably leans toward conservationist side, but depicts both sides equally well • Curious – practices the art of “immersion”

    5. Encounters with the Archdruid • McPhee’s 7th book, published in 1971 • Won the National Book Award - category of science • Personalities of both sides of the American environmentalist movement • Depicts the complexities of ecological issues • Profiles famous conservationist David Brower

    6. Composed of 3 distinct sections • Cascades with Charles Park… mineral engineer • Hilton Head/Cumberland Island with Charles Fraser… resort developer • Colorado River with Floyd Dominy… dam builder • Common character in each is David Brower (and John McPhee) • Spend time in the outdoors, “discussing” philosophies and environmental practices

    7. ENVIRONMENTALIST MOVEMENT • first became active in U.S. politics after Earth Day in 1970. • Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act • EPA: Environmental Protection Agency • Wastes, toxic substances, pesticides, endangered animals • Most activism directed towards conservation and prevention/elimination of pollution • As population and industry increase, conflicts with libertarians and corporate interests

    8. DAVID BROWER • 1912-2000 • The Archdruid himself • “druids” – slang term for environmentalists who will sacrifice people to save trees • Most notable conservationist of all time • Born in Berkely • Isolated childhood • Nicknamed “toothless boob” • Mother blind, led her around • Family camping trips • Dropped out of college to become a mountaineer • WWII, mountain division • Married Anne Hus in 1941

    9. BROWER • Single handedly saved many beloved places in U.S. – deserves respect • Knowledgeable and committed • Concerned with long-term effects of human change to the earth • But stubborn with simplistic arguments, figures can be skewed • Reservoirs will fill with silt, but not for a long time • Italy dam disaster – didn’t really break • Lives in a house – hypocritical? • Sometimes doesn’t consider very real human needs • Water for people in the desert

    10. SIERRA CLUB • Sierra Club • Executive director ’52-’69 • Membership 7,000 to 70,000 • Books – exquisite collection of photographs • His cup • Was ousted from office, 10 to 5: too radical, spent too much money, too selfish, not in tune with the Club anymore, and immigration viewpoints. • Also in 1969, founded Friends of the Earth • Kicked out of this too • Largest environmental group in the world • Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize 3 times – ’78, ’79, ‘98

    11. THE SERMON • “The U.S. has 6% of the world’s population and uses 60% of the world’s resources. When one county gets more than its share, it builds tensions. War is waged over resources.” • “We have to drop our standard of living, so that people a thousand years from now can have any standard of living at all.” (gas, oil) • “Roughly 90% of the earth has felt man’s hand already. That’s the limit. We should go back over the 90 and not touch the remaining 10%.” • “When rampant growth happens in an individual, we call it cancer.” • “Conservationists have to win again and again and again. The enemy only has to win once.”

    12. GLACIER PEAK WILDERNESS/ CASCADE RANGE • Washington • Wilderness Act 1964 – Congress set aside certain regions as “permanent wilderness”. No national park, no machines, no lumbering • Mining exception • Copper lode .5mi square

    13. CHARLES PARK… • Geologist, mineral engineer • “Minerals are where you find them. The quantities are finite. So you go and get them wherever they are located.” • Hunted for copper, silver, gold • Doesn’t like Sierra Club – accuses of being preservationists, not conservationists. Says you can’t avoid change. • “My idea of conservation is complete use of resources, with as little waste as possible, for the benefit of all the people.”

    14. vs. DAVID BROWER • “The Glacier Peak Wilderness is probably the most beautiful piece of country we’ve got. Mining copper there would be like hitting a pretty girl in the face with a shovel.” • Mining would leave a path of destruction, waste dump… recommends recycling • Ecosystem is delicate, disruption would be severe • Wilderness is the bank for the genetic variability of the earth. • However, got excited when he found copper pebbles in a stream • “Conservation is humanity caring for the future.”

    15. HILTON HEAD • Sea Pines Plantation • Complete control • Buildings all blend into environment • Houses far from ocean

    16. CUMBERLAND ISLAND • Hammond’s map didn’t include it – deliberate omission • Population of 11 • Wild horses and pigs, 14 ft alligators, fertile soil, no bridge • Carnegies • Fraser obtained 3000 acres • Toured it with Brower and McPhee • Gave it up b/c of pressure from druids • Developed, popular tourist site now • JFK, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette married there in ’96

    17. CHARLES FRASER • Visionary – wanted to create something beautiful… had idea for Sea Pines Plantation at 21. • Yale Law School • Locally, considered a major and absolute nut • Considers himself a true conservationist. Others more like preservationists; calls them druids, so Brower should be his #1 enemy • Cocky: “I’m the golden boy of the Golden Isles.” • Died in a boating explosion off coast of Provo in Dec. 02

    18. vs. DAVID BROWER • Makes his typical comments, but surprisingly supportive • Liked youthfulness of Fraser and prospect of the island being focused toward children – thought they would do better with the earth • Was enjoying himself on new territory and lapsed into uncharacteristic passivity – wouldn’t even call him a druid • Even wanted to reverse his 90:10 philosophy! • “If it had to be developed, I’m glad it was developed by him.” • Eventually started talking about conserving the marshes, went into the Sermon, Fraser ignored him

    19. FLOYD DOMINY • Began job as a county agent during the Great Drought • Obsessed with irrigation and dams • Profound, lifelong belief in the storage of water • Head of Dept. of Reclamation ’59-’71. “Reclamation is the father of putting water to work for man – irrigation, hydropower, flood control, recreation.” • Responsible for many dams, notably Glen Canyon Dam/Lake Powell – Colorado River • Wanted to flood the Grand Canyon • “Let’s USE our environment.”

    20. CONSERVATIONISTS AND DAMS • Analogy: outermost circle of Devil’s world is a moat filled with DDT. Next to it, a moat of burning gasoline. Then a ring of pinheads, each covered with a million people. Bulldozers and chainsaws lead into the absolute epicenter of Hell on earth, where stands a dam. • Hold themselves in reasonable check before new oil spills, but go insane at even the THOUGHT of a dam. • Rivers are the ultimate metaphor of existence, and dams destroy rivers. • Threat to ecosystems and species (condors)

    21. vs. DAVID BROWER • Got along pretty well despite their opposing views – joking insults • “I hate all dams, large and small.” • “You can’t duplicate this experience – this lake – anywhere else. But neither can you enjoy the original experience.” • Ends up saying that he’s not in favor of dams, but he’s in favor of Dominy • And then, “Putting water in Glen Canyon was like urinating on the crypt of St. Peter’s. I hope it never happens here (Grand Canyon).”


    23. LAKE POWELL • 600,000 people a year use this lake now… used to just be a handful

    24. WHAT SHOULD WE DO? • People are caught in the middle • Want to be conservationists, but also need power and water • Vote always about 50:50 • Schoolchildren: houses on a beach? Mining copper? Building a dam in the CO River?

    25. OPINIONS • Interesting, well-written, and descriptive (similes, metaphors) • Well-developed characters • Forces you to pick a side, but doesn’t make it “good vs. evil” • Quite outdated • Prices ($25 for a book was an “investment”, Hilton Head condos) • Baltimore Colts

    26. CONNECTIONS • Sierra Club • “aesthetic” at least 8 times • Personal ones – Hilton Head, esp. • Review paper last week – Pacific salmon and riparian environments • Ecology with Dr. Hochwender • Presently talking about how riparian environments are negatively influenced by dams • Sorry, no Gilgamesh ones

    27. REFERENCES • www.barnesandnoble.com/writers/writerdetails.asp?cid=982496 • www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McPhee • www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_movement_in_the_United_States • www.johnmcphee.com • www.odu.edu/ao/instadv/quest/workofjohnmcphee.html • www.pulitzer.org/year/1999/general-non-fiction/bio • www.goodbyemag.com/nov00/brower.html