Category Archives: Gary Snyder

The Wild: Humanity’s Hope/Hell

“Here was a man who would not let the mere threat of cultural extinction stand in the way of his values…In the world of his people, never over-populated, rich in acorn, deer, salmon, and flicker feathers, to cleave to such purity, to be perfectionists about matters of family or clan, were affordable luxuries.”

Upon learning of one of the only other humans on earth to’ve spoken his native and near-extinct language, Snyder is remarking upon this man’s complete and total lack of interest in any sort of interaction with this woman of similar linguistic origin as he. This almost sarcastic use of the word ‘mere’ to indicate an intentionally understated meaning serves to highlight the degree to which this individual prioritized his own values above those of the world or society or culture which might contrast with his opinion; that it’s better to preserve his own feelings of solitude and non-interaction than to potentially salvage an almost-completely-eradicated linguistic tradition. It’s this prioritization of personal over popular which characterizes this individual’s relationship to that which humanity refers to as the “wilderness”, with particular regard to the vast expanse of simultaneously liberating as well as terrifying freedom that comes in tow with it.

“It’s also clear that the humanist is not necessarily an agnostic. Socrates’ last act was to ask that his promised offering to the spirit realm be carried out: ‘I owe a cock to Asclepius.’ The philosopher might despise mystification, but will respect mysteries.”

Snyder’s making a clear characterization between humanism and spirituality as anything but mutually exclusive, through the illustration of one of the most universally practical minds throughout history as one who even on his death bed, showcased a certain respect and one might even be able to say reverence, towards that which humanity cannot explain, for all it’s self-obsession and apparent disdain for its own lack of consequence. Through this illustration Snyder implies that even those who champion human agency as a pinnacle of existence within life as one understands it, should take care to learn as well as regard the blatant fact that humanity is far from the apex predator of the world which it so comfortably likes to categorize itself as.

Both of these instances lend themselves to the idea of the wild as both an extra-human force as well as a space with an almost inequitable kind of personal freedom; one which allows for a completely individualistically-shaped mode of thought, if one so desires, as the stimulating yet simultaneously overwhelming buzz of dense human habitation isn’t to be found among the wilderness.

Essential Questions Of The Wild And Our Own Nature

Who am I? What am I doing here? What’s going on?

On the surface, these questions seem existential yet redundant. But when you really dive into these questions and let them marinate, the answer is much more profound and important than one thinks.

What’s going on?

A lot is going on. The human experience is astoundingly unique, whether that is individually or as a whole. We are in (in my opinion) one of the most interesting time periods to be alive. SO, Donald Trump is ruler of the free world huh? Seems like a bad joke with no punch line. This is a time where I feel like media is the most influential thing happening. There is a blur between reality and reality t.v., so it actually makes sense that a reality T.V. star (and a pompous ass) is our president. Not only is his personality horrid, but also he is regressing the world. Not saying global warming is real? Come on. This is a sad place we are at as far as what is going on in the world, especially in America. Hysteria is now a legitimate excuse for not allowing respectable people of different descent into our nation. Whether that be trying to make their lives better by coming to the U.S.A. to be a student, or more tragically, try to escape a war ridden homeland and just simply survive. Yet, there is still a lot of good happening e and countless people who care and wish to keep making this world a little bit better every single day.

Who am I? When asked this question, the answer can either be very general (such as your family ties, what you enjoy doing, and what you believe in) or it can be quite complex and challenging. Knowing oneself is about understanding your being without any external interruption. Every day we are influenced heavily by the world around us, but if one truly knows their self, these things in life are simply just happening while your essence remains. I believe we are born a certain way and that is just how it is. One of the worst things one can do for themselves is try to run away or disassociate from whom they truly are, causing suffering and confusion about the world as a whole, in my opinion. So, who am I? I am a white male homosapien living in the North East region of the U.S. in North America. My ancestors are from Portugal, Ireland, and Norway. More in depth, I am a lover of music and snowboarding, I feel like I try to do the right thing, and I would never cause anyone harm without reason. I also care very much about my family and friends and love helping those in need. Even deeper into that, I believe that at the end of the day, the only person one can rely on truly is their own self, so it is even more so important that we dig into ourselves and understand who we are, and how our beliefs and values correlate with our behavior and actions.

What am I doing here?

Who the hell knows, honestly. I believe we are here simply by randomness and circumstance. I think humans got very lucky and happened to thoroughly develop a very able body and brain. This, along with language and social connection, is the intelligence that we see in humans and not in any other animals (although, dolphins are very smart). I think that we are here to have a good time, learn lessons, and help others who need it. Life is all about what you make it, YOU decide what you are doing here and everyone’s interpretations will naturally be a little different, which is not only okay, but very cool and interesting. I like to believe we are here to preserve, connect, and get what we deserve. Karma doesn’t discriminate, so remember when it hits you in the face, all that you’ve done and deterred. What are we all doing here? Truth is self evident, so it is up to you to infer.

Let us however, step into the wild. The wild is untamed, unapologetic, and being, in its very essence. We can all learn from the wild, for it is already inside of us, naturally. The wild is that gut feeling you have, that intuition that helps us, and wild knows no “right or wrong”. Seeing a lion eat a gazelle is wilderness. A thorn on a beautiful rose is the best metaphor I can use to describe the wild. It can be dangerous yet is an awesome thing of delicacy. When we allow the wild to exist inside of us , we better understand what it means to be an energy filled life from on Earth. As humans, we love categories and differentiating ourselves: not only even with other species, but even within our own! What I think we can learn from the wild is that we all come from it, and that we need to trust the way it works, for the wild has been and will always be the most powerful entity on Earth.

 

 

 

Practical Wilderness

Gary Snyder’s writing speaks so deeply of reflection and a return to the land. This has provoked me to think about ways I myself can return to the land. Not all of us in America are at the benefit of carrying native blood in our veins. While I’m substantially more of European descent, the guilt I feel when I realize the clash in ancestry makes me know I should actively be trying to change for the environment’s sake, not my own.
While the mistakes of our ancestors are not for us to internalize through blame, we tend to,, and as such Snyder shares ways for us to return to nature and find solace. To build a bridge between our ever separating spaces of outside versus inside, it’s important to understand the “grandmother wisdom” like Snyder talks of. The values passed down and along the lineage are the values the natives had 400 years ago, and are the same values carried today by anyone with a mind for respecting the natural world around them.
These wisdoms are grounded in the key understanding that humans, too, are animals. Instead of putting our advantages of opposable thumbs and complex brains on a pedestal, it’s for us to realize we are one with every other animal also fighting environmental change and decline. As Snyder puts it, “We must try not to be stingy, or to exploit others. There will be enough pain in the world as it is” (p 4). We shouldn’t feel guilty for who we are, but we should know we are animal and as such must be purposeful and kind as to not contribute to the decay of civilizations as we know them.
***
If the “grandmother wisdom” (p 60-61) could be tattooed to the brain and practiced by every individual on Earth, there would be no climate issues whatsoever. It is compliant with almost every religion: it’s universally just the values of being a wholesome person. The issue is that often life gets hectic and the commoner will start to focus mainly on a few good values they hold dear. The way to go would be to try to do as the natives do and carry all of them at equal importance. It’s just as important to be respectful of nature as it is your family, and hard work does nothing but strengthen the soul.
So… If being “nice” is the answer, why aren’t more people down with the movement? Snyder definitely talks to the harsh world where capitalism and self fulfillment reign, but what he never really talks about is the secret behind it all… It’s really hard for most people to be nice. This processed world of false flavorings and non-renewable plastic conventions is molding people to find no other outlet than to be destructive. There’s a label on people who give a shit about the environment, because it’s easier to throw the plastic water bottle in the trash and ignore the future than it is to move your hand a half a foot away to the recycling bin. Corporate America has made the world of one time use plastics and packaging glamorous, while giving off vibes that the natural alternatives were “less convenient” and less useful.
If we turn away from those ideas and trust those like Snyder leading us through the footpaths of nature, we’ll make it.

A Journey Through the Wild

“Nature is the subject, they say, of science. Nature can be deeply probed, as in microbiology. The wild is not to be made subject or object in this manner; to be approached it must be admitted from within, as a quality intrinsic to who we are. Nature is ultimately in no way endangered; wilderness is.”- Excerpt from The Practice of the Wild, by Gary Snyder p. 194

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (Photo: National Geographic, Ryan Sheets)

The Practice of the Wild, a book of essays by Gary Snyder, shines a light on how the wild functions as a living breathing force of life that is becoming endangered due to the development of the human world, and the degradation of freedom as it pertains to the natural world. The title in itself shows the way in which Snyder is trying to situate the wild as being a “practice”, something that we must keep up at in order to stay sharp in our interpretations of what it entails. Wild is defined in number of ways, but the gist is that it exists as a living state of nature that is neither domesticated nor tame in that is not connected whatsoever to human cultivation and is therefore not subject to restraint or regulation. If we take these definitions to be one all encompassing idea for what it means to be wild, then it can be seen that this is how the wild used to exist until human interference muddled the line between civilization and wilderness. 

Christopher McCandless & “The Magic Bus” , the Stampede Trail: Faribanks, AK (Photo: The Guardian, taken by Chris McCandless 1992)

The wild is thought of by many as being the culmination of a world without culture or politics. It is in an essence, free from the constraints that society adopts in order  to control the world, but sadly, it is no longer liberated in this way. We can do research, find out how it was that humans first tried to harness the unyielding and wild power of the natural world, but this would be counterproductive. I am not interested in how wildness became endangered, rather I am intrigued as to why. Snyder writes that “The line between use and misuse, between objectification and celebration, is fine indeed” as he expresses the very reality of humans trampling over this line until it is nothing more than a wound that will fester and grow, as the whole world becomes infected (113). I think it can be understood by most that humans are naturally prone to crave power. It is a concept of ownership that helps them to feel important, but until humans could truly take hold of the world, they had to gain knowledge, knowledge from everywhere, and a key source of this knowledge, is the very soil that gave life to human beings in the first place. The wild has preceded all of our existences. It is wise beyond years, and it is this  natural force that humans have harnessed so that they could become masters of the universe. Before we were here, paved streets were once occupied by vast carpets of green grass, towering trees, the original society of wild animals who lived without restraint or fear from the strange creatures who walked on two legs, who burned down their homes; the world functioned in the unhinged way that it is meant to. No one was there to claim they had rightful ownership, no one was there to take away the power of the wild. 

Now people tend to trails, making sure our personified pathways will not become lost in the natural growth of the wild. We have laws that try to protect the human-given rights of the evnvironment, and we have politicians who could care less about the natural world as long as they get substantial pocket change out of advocating for fossil fuels, pesticide use, and forest clear cutting. The wild has become a mere accessory to the superior human existence, and it is suffering greatly due to our careless behavior. We live in our insulated houses, safe from the windchill outside our windows. We wrinkle our noses when we see a skunk reduced to another stain on our highways. We see the chem-trails that tower over our heads in the bleak, white expanses of sky. We wonder. Wonder what irreparable harm we are causing to the wilderness that gave birth to us unruly teenagers. But we don’t change. We stay comfortable, nestled in blankets on our screened in porches, looking at the world through a wall of wire that keeps us safe from the reality of it all. Why? It is question that I will forever come back to. It can always be answered with the ideas of greed, lust, entitlement. The real query is, how to fix it? Can it even be fixed? I remember watching Before the Flood, and hearing Leonardo DiCaprio’s voice over the images of entire forests lit on fire, crumbling glaciers, and trash infested oceans as he told us, that we are the ones who must figure this out. We are the people who must do more than try, but succeed, at helping the wild to become emancipated from the blight of our violent existence.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Speech to the UN on climate change.

Featured Photo Courtesy of: National Geographic Voices, Julie Larsen Maher

What On Earth is Wild?

a :living in a state of nature and not ordinarily tame or domesticated 

  • wild ducks

(1) :growing or produced without human aid or care 

  • wild honey

 (2) :related to or resembling a corresponding cultivated or domesticated organism

c :of or relating to wild organisms 

 

What is “wild”?  We live in a world in with a man made dichotomy between “wild” and “tame”, “natural” and “unnatural”, “human” and “nonhuman”.  By trying to define the word “wild”, we are trying to define a word that we have created to describe something that we think we have left behind–some unattainable characteristic of the beyond human world.  Gary Snyder equates our understanding of wildness with chaos.  It is something that we cannot control.  Being human, anything we cannot understand enough to control, must be chaos.  However, the wild has its own way of existing–clearly it has until now.  Our view of the wilderness can easily be compared to colonizer’s view of native peoples.  When they showed up, they saw barbarism, chaos, wildness.  They saw a way of existing that they could not understand, so they sought to control it.  In this way we also seek to control the wild.  Through insecticides, industrialized farming, zoos, and countless more examples, we try to impose our ‘humanness’ onto the wild.

In The Practice of the Wild, Snyder addresses the idea of environmental ethics.  This can be a difficult concept seeing as he is taking a humanized term and placing it on the beyond human world.  Ethics, morality, and any discussion of right and wrong usually refers to how we treat our fellow person, not our home.  ‘Nature’ is seen as an inanimate object, and therefore it does not come easily for most people to care for it.  We have removed ourselves from the natural world so much that we do not see it as something worth caring for.  The delusion that we are not a part of the planet and that our relationship with it has no effect on the earth or the creatures on it is what prevents us from feeling for it, and therefor from helping it.  This is clearly a ridiculous notion, because even just looking at our own bodies will show us that we are indeed a part of the earth.

 

 

A vast field of white and red flowers

Two shirtless children walking through a forest in black and white

 

 

Wild Essay: Water-Hole, here, there and everywhere..

Water-holes, the word beginning the essay, appears to be a symbol as well as a physical location of major importance. I think about an open and barren safari wilderness, parched of life and lush greens. But, in the middle of this wasteland, an open pool of blue crisp water, waiting to refresh and quench the thirsts of all who wander towards it. It is a soothing thought, a thought pertaining to an area untouched or undisturbed by man.  Although this sounds like an overly vibrant description, it comes to mind. Water has a strange way of connecting all living things.

Beyond our chemical make-up being composed of mostly water, it is an essential part of our physical lives. It has an archetypal presence in the literary world as well as our human world. ” In the hunting and gathering way of life, the whole territory of a given group is fairly equally experienced by everyone. Those wild and sacred spots have many uses. There are places where women go for seclusion, places where the bodies of the dead are taken, and spots where young men and women are called for special instruction. Such places are numinous, loaded with meaning and power” (124-5). The Earth is a shared space, home to all that populate it. When I think of the term “Waterhole” Snyder’s essay embodies the togetherness that it as a location provides.   “A place kept by custom open to all” (126). For a culture, this might mean a place of worship, a connection to the natural world that spawned life as we know it. For an inner city, this could be the public pool where you meet friends, family, maybe you’re significant other for a day of leisure.  “Very powerful. Very much in mind. We learned later that it was indeed a place where young men were taken for ceremony” (128)

Although the ideas behind the two examples may be vastly different at an initial glance, it embodies the same ideals.  It is a habitual behavior that is defined by our respective culture. Water, is the major recurring idea behind this essay, the way it runs through us all. Snyder uses descriptive language in all of these essays, using various natural elements as a pattern. Snyder often reiterates the importance of understanding his writing, not just reading it. To be consciously thinking about “Environmentalism” is to be thoroughly dissecting his work.

I’ve had a similar experience of my own when pondering the complexities of water within the human world. My father and I often take trips to Salisbury, Massachusetts to visit my uncle. Very often, when the weather is nice, my father and I enjoy walking the full length of the Hampton Beach strip, just over the border in Seabrook, New Hampshire. The strip has changed its identity throughout the years. Once home to the Mob, dive-bars and dark corners, the area has cleaned up, outfitted with a new identity, of steel jungle gyms and resort style chairs lining the far edge. Imported South American blond sands line the beaches now, a contrast from the grainy and pebble-covered beaches just across the border.

As we walk we comment on the everlasting beauty of the ocean, a mere hundred yards from the strip. The line between man-made and entirely natural is virtually non-existent to most who stroll the beaches. Does this knowledge even matter on a beautiful walk along the beach? I believe it does, and that is the message I believe Snyder is trying to convey. The natural world is a fragile spectacle, it’s beauty unmatched by anything man-made.

The water-hole, an idea that can be defined or experienced by a variety of circumstances. For me, the Water-Hole is a place of meeting, recognition, and appreciation for the living things around you. My father and I walk the strip as an appreciation for the biggest body of life besides us, our watering hole,  it is everyone’s.

The line that defines one side from the next is increasingly blurry. The problems plaguing our environment are being ignored by those who have yet to understand. Those people, then cover the eyes of those they convince, to dismiss the biggest problem of our generation.

 

Gary Snyder: Meditation in Motion

In The Practice of the Wild, Gary Snyder uses his extensive knowledge of Buddhist culture and history to make thoughtful comments on humanity and its relationship to nature. He specifically quotes and comments on Dogen Kigen and his many essays and poetry. For Gary Snyder and in the Buddhist religion, “the blue mountains are constantly walking.” In Dogen’s writing, mountains and rivers are sacred and are symbolic of the greatest lessons of existence. One of those lessons is not separating oneself from real life. Someone who might be considered to be enlightened would have a strong, harmonious connection with nature. All the Buddhist and Taoist monks focus deeply on not only the incredible power within, but of the infinite power and wisdom of nature.

This process of deep and ruminative thought is meditation; one of the most important practices in multiple different religions. Snyder says that one of the best ways to meditate is to walk through nature and open the eyes of your mind and soul. He suggests that “Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance of spirit and humility.” To connect to nature is to plug in to the real world and tune out the unnecessary thought, worries and questions. It is primary to escape these human-made confines and move to a place that is old as existence.

Meditation is a sacred practice. It aligns you with your true self and the truth of existence. Many people must do this for years and years before they are able to sufficiently tone in to a higher plane of thought and life. Snyder says that “Sacred refers to that which helps take us (not only human beings) out of our little selves into the whole mountains-and-rivers mandala universe.” He says that walking can blur the facetious line between human and nature, allowing us to see clearer and feel more. Suburban, urban, agricultural developments, rivers, mountains, bear and salmon: all should be seen as one living, breathing system. We have so much to learn from the shallow valleys and the towering mountains.

In order to “enter the wild areas of the mind”, as Snyder says, we must start by entering the wild areas of the natural landscape. There in the forest, by the stream, swimming along the shore, are the tried and true lessons. Lessons etched in stone and carved by current. If we focus and meditate on the mountains and rivers and all the creatures surrounding us, we can learn. The mountain is strong, elegant and beautiful—the river is patient, dedicated, and wise. Many search for spiritual knowledge and existential insight in books and seminars, but are blissfully unaware of the many volumes that a wolf howling under the silver moon might speak.

A Wild Universe

Gary Snyder’s book The Practice of The Wild contains multiple essays describing his view of the natural world from many different angles. Throughout the beginning and the contents of the book Snyder plays around with the idea of being “wild”, and wildness. When I think of something being wild I think of it as being a wild animal; a non domesticated animal without the ability of sentient thought that us humans poses. These “wild creatures” couldn’t possibly think and live by their instincts that have developed through evolution for millions of years. But who are we to think that we are more evolved and intelligent? These wild animals that live in our world do our Earth no harm and only take what they need to survive. Us humans can only understand what we perceive and what we can see. Animals see too, but perception is the big difference to any kind of thought, so maybe us and “wild” animals are not that different at all. “The world is our consciousness, and it
surrounds us. There are more things in mind, in the imagination,
than “you” can keep track of—thoughts, memories, images, angers,
delights, rise unbidden. The depths of mind, the unconscious,
are our inner wilderness areas, and that is where a bobcat is right now.” (23)

At the beginning of the book within the first essay (The Etiquette of Freedom) Snyder compares the term wildness to freedom. Snyder states “To be truly free one must take on the basic conditions
as they are—painful, impermanent, open, imperfect—and
then be grateful for impermanence and the freedom it grants us. For
in a fixed universe there would be no freedom. With that freedom we
improve the campsite, teach children, oust tyrants. The world is nature,
and in the long run inevitably wild, because the wild, as the
process and essence of nature, is also an ordering of impermanence.” This quote from the book says a lot about Snyder’s views of the world, and the universe. As he says “For in a fixed Universe there would be no freedom”, he means in a predetermined universe, containing a set destiny for every animal, molecule, or atom, there is no wildness.  Wildness is uncertainty and those that are wild live by their instincts. Wildness is a a mother bear coming out of hibernation, hungry, and with young to feed, she knows not where she will eat and how she will feed her cubs, but she leaves the den and searches the vast wilderness for whatever provisions the forest may provide her. Wildness is not waking up and driving to Dunkin Donuts for your morning breakfast. Wildness is “painful, impermanent, open, imperfect”, the wild world is painful, predators stalk prey, there are no regulations and rules, only resourcefulness.

My cell phone, June 2015 Kodiak Island, AK

But who are we humans to deny the transition of life from wildness to domestication? We have made lives for our species easy and relaxing. I truly believe that even though we have created large cities and developed technology from resources in nature;that all of what we have created is still nature. “Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.” (7) Although many think our world is so far gone and altered it may never return to how it is was; we must realize even though we have changed the world it is still the same world. We haven’t moved anywhere else and sit right where we were thousands of years ago. One must realize that we are not living within our universe, the universe lives within us; within  every atom of our bodies, it belongs to the universe. We are only so lucky as to be able to try to understand what we really are. We have created language as a means of attempting to describe the world world around us that we are perceiving. “It is said that about a million and a half species of animals and plants have been scientifically described, and that there are anywhere from ten to thirty million species of organisms on earth.” (176) Scientists and researchers of the “natural world” classify these organisms and all kinds of phenomena within our physical universe. We see ourselves apart from the whole, and do not consider ourselves a part of “nature”, as we try to escape to it. “The physical universe and all its properties—I would prefer to use the word nature in this sense. But it will come up meaning “the outdoors” or “other-than-human” sometimes even here.” (77)

Gary Snyder understands that whether we believe him or not, we are a part of nature. Nature lives within us, and we are all wild beings part of the same universe. We are no different than the rest of the universe, we are the universe.

https://brlmk.deviantart.com/art/the-Universe-is-in-us-537574259

Wildness vs Wilderness (In Progress)

“The wild — the richness of plant and animal life on the globe including us, the rainstorms, windstorms, and calm spring mornings — is the real world, to which we belong.”  -Gary Snyder

What is wild? Is it a party? Is it the wind? Is it a wolf in the bushes?A full moon? Or perhaps it’s how your hair looks sometimes on a bad hair day.

“Aqua” the dog whose eyes you can’t see

There are many definitions of what wild could be. Gary Snyder takes a stab at it in the 1990 edition of his book The Practice of the Wild. Here, he defines wild as the “process and essence of nature,” (Snyder 5). When we think about it, wild is nature. Think about when things get out of control. It’s because there is complete freedom. That complete freedom is nature without limits.

This past Sunday, there was a huge storm in New Hampshire. It was windy beyond belief, branches were flying through the air, and there were puddles flooding the ground. And I walked through it. Probably not my smartest idea, but boy did it remind me of how wild nature can get. I was blown around and the wind filled my lungs so I wasn’t able to breathe. The whooshing of every single leaf, branch, and tree was the scariest sound. It honestly felt like I could’ve died at any moment. If it wasn’t a branch knocking me off my feet, it would be the puddles pulling me in.

The aftermath of the storm. Photo Credit: Ariel Freedman

Then talk about how although nature is scary, it’s also beautiful. Show picture here:

Photo Credit: Ariel Freedman

From there, talk about how nature can be beautiful or scary. Either way, it’s wild. Wilderness is “the place where the wild potential is fully expressed,” (Snyder 12). 

Wilderness is just the place where wildness is. This leaves a whole door open to what wildness is. Wilderness is just the place. Some examples of wilderness could be places in the distance like reservations. At the same time, wilderness is also inside us. Our minds are a wilderness. “The depths of mind, the unconscious , are our inner wilderness areas,” (Snyder 17). Our mind is wild because when we let it go free, it’s nature. What we think is natural and when we tame it, it becomes less natural.

Where else do you see wilderness? Where else do you see it contained?

What do we do about it? Most people just think to preserve the “wilderness,” but no. That’s just one place that wildness exists. What we need to protect is the wildness, because the wildness is nature. And nature is being destroyed. A wolf is wild, but we can’t just protect the forest. We have to protect the wolf. We have to protect the wild within ourselves.

Quotes to use:

“Nature is not a place to visit, it is home,” (Snyder 7). 

Our bodies are wild. The involuntary quick turn of the head at a shout, the vertigo at looking off a precipice, the heart-in-the-throat in a moment of danger, the catch of the breath, the quiet relaxing, staring, reflecting — all universal responses of this mammal body. -Snyder 17

 

Independent Mountains

The Practice of The Wild by Gary Snyder is a must read for any interested environmentalist, advanced or amateur. What stood out to me was Gary Synder’s interest in giving different parts of the environment gendered definitions. Synder states, “Mountains also have mystic associations of verticality, spirit, height, transcendence, hardness, resistance, and masculinity. For the Chinese they are exemplars of the “yang” : dry, hard, male, and bright. Waters are feminine: wet, soft, dark “yin” with associations of fluid-but-strong, seeking (and carving) the lowest, soulful, life giving, shape-shifting” (108 Synder). He uses mountains as a symbol to describe the masculine qualities such as dry and hard. He uses water as a symbol to describe the feminine qualities such as wet, soft, and dark. It might be a little bit biased to give those qualities to certain parts of nature, but personally I like the idea. Synder also goes on to describe how mountains are a symbol of independence. They are a very spiritual place free of political control. Mountains and waters push and pull against each other just like the ocean and the moon. They need each other to function properly. “Mountains and Waters are a dyad that together make wholeness possible: wisdom and compassion are the two components of realization” (108 Synder). Water and mountains balance the entire wilderness. They allow living and nonliving beings to continue to grow and expand at their own healthy rate. The journey of water is really beautiful, because everything needs water to survive. “The path of water is such that when it rises to the sky, it becomes raindrops; when it falls to the ground, it becomes rivers” (109 Synder).

 

The Wilderness is a large uncontrollable place. It is beautifully chaotic and anyone who has any appreciation for nature should be fighting to keep our wilderness healthy and beautiful. Synder states that the”Wilderness is a place where the wild potential is fully expressed, a diversity of living and nonliving beings flourishing according to their own sorts of order” (12 Synder). When outside influences become involved and start causing damage to the wilderness it effects the diversity of living and nonliving beings. As a society we have to come together and realize that we cannot control the wilderness. It is Wild, and will adapt for better or for worse no matter what we decide to do to it. We  have to learn to protect our wilderness and to let it remain wild, instead of trying to control it’s every quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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