Reading Notes

11.09.17

Devon C’s Notes on T.C. Boyle The Tortilla Curtain

  • Racism
    • “The Mexican”
    • Delaney always lumps all people of a specific race into one person
      • I.e. him saying that Candido was the one who was also vandalizing all the homes
      • Says he is a humanist but is really not – does not practice what he preaches
  • The wall around the homes and the border wall
    • Relevant to today
    • Thoughts of keeping safe – But from what? What is the threat that they are so concerned about?
  • Kyra and her obsession with the building of the wall
    • For her “safety” and the panic that ensues when others feed on that fear.
      • The men who are on the property she is trying to sell
      • The Coyotes attacking her dogs
    • Fear of what exists outside the border
    • Reminiscent of people who have had their house broken into and then are obsessed with protecting what they have and then buy a gun or other weapon
  • Consumerism and selfishness
    • The turkey (248)
    • Taking the car to go a few blocks because she was worried about the wind in her hair (261)
  • The two families converging once again
  • The strength of the two marriages
    • Both stick together even when everything seems to be falling apart
    • Why do they stay together?
      1. Does America have the option to leave?

11.07.17

Luke’s Notes on T.C. Boyle The Tortilla Curtain

-The haves and the have nots

-Two couples live in close proximity yet their lives are drastically different.

-Both have dreams and aspirations. Both want to be happy and live comfortably.

-There is a great disparity between the lives of Delaney and Kyra and the lives of Candido and America.

-Tortilla Curtain is phrase for the Mexican border wall.

-Iron Curtain for Eastern Europe

-Bamboo Curtain with regard to China

-“Iron is impenetrable, Tortilla Curtain is the opposite of impenetrable.” –T.C. Boyle

-Images of walls are very prevalent

-walls, gates, walling people in

-Do you really have “your own” property, do you have the right to fence people out?

-How can Americans have this standard of living while others cannot? Are we obligated to help people that immigrate to this country?

Seeing a whole class or race of people in a certain way is ignorant.

Epigraph: Steinbeck: “I wanted to see how the ethos of the 1930s, and the traditional liberal ethos of providing for everybody, is applied to today.” – T.C. Boyle

This book isn’t a polemic, it is a fiction. T.C. Boyle wrote the book to experiment with different ideas and concepts. Instead of making an outright political statement, the book serves to address racism, xenophobia, and immigration. “

“It doesn’t answer questions”- T.C. Boyle

Foreshadowing “The canyon was a tinderbox this time of year, everyone knew that.”- Delaney

Racism “Thoughtless people, stupid people who wanted to turn the world into a garbage dump, a little Tijuana.”- Delaney

Racism in the book is misguided and hypocritical. The ones living inside the community are the ones at fault. Delaney talks about the immigrants littering and destroying nature but it is the gabachos that are wasting and consuming.

After Delaney hits Candido, he tells Kyra that he paid him twenty dollars. Kyra is surprised that he only asked for twenty. Delaney replies with “I told you—he was Mexican.”

Opportunity is a major theme in the book. There are so many choices available to Delaney and his family. They choose what to have for breakfast, never having the same meals in a row. The can WORK and provide for their family. Candido and America have to struggle to even find work.

The American dream is also a theme in the book. Candido and America want a simple existence with a small yard and enough space to raise their unborn child. This book is very sad because it shows good people having to snuff out their dreams and continue a life that they are not happy with. When Candido drinks, he is able to “keep his dreams at bay.” however he still feels the immense pressure and weight on his shoulders.

America Candido’s wifes name, also their new home. To Candido, America was “hope for the future.” Candido is talking both about his wife and his child, but also the new environment that they have found themselves in. He promised America a good life, one that was so rumored about in Tijuana.

Vocabulary
Campesinos
 Indios
 Vagos
Braceros
Gabachos

Delaney is concerned with “overpopulation, desertification, the depletion of the seas and the forests, global warming and loss of habitat.”

He makes a comment in which he is relating to himself when he says “Five and a half billion people chewing up the resources of the planet like locusts.”

11.02.17

Colby’s Notes on Gary Snyder The Practice of the Wild

“Few today can announce themselves as someone from somewhere. Almost nobody spends a lifetime in the same valley, working alongside the people they knew as children” (26)

  • Expresses the change in lifestyle through generations.

“It will have been half riverbed, it will have been scratched and plowed by ice. And then it will be cultivated, paved, sprayed, dammed, graded, built up” (27)

  • Makes us think about where we are, and what was here before us, and how much exactly has changed. Earth is quite a resilient place.

Snyder speaks about the vastness of lifestyle depending on the region. Two extremes for comparison being people in the desert walking a lot, while a valley farmer might just stick around most of his life.

Snyder proceeds to talk about civilizations beginnings in separation of wildlife. He explains wonderfully how we need to keep making “Natural Contact” with our environment.

“The pressures of growing populations and the powers of entrenched (but fragile, confused, and essentially leaderless) economic systems warp the likelihood of any of us seeing clearly. Our perception of how en-trenched they are may also be something of a delusion.

Sometimes it seems unlikely that a society as a whole can make wise choices. Yet there is no choice but to call for the “recovery of the commons”—and this in a modern world which doesn’t quite realize what it has lost. Take back, like the night, that which is shared by all of us, that which is our larger being. There will be no “tragedy of the commons” greater than this: if we do not recover the commons—re- gain personal, local, community, and peoples’ direct involvement in sharing (in being) the web of the wild world—that world will keep slipping away. Eventually our complicated industrial capitalist/socialist mixes will bring down much of the living system that supports us. And, it is clear, the loss of a local commons heralds the end of self-sufficiency and signals the doom of the vernacular culture of the region.” (36)

  • Our world and society is very odd in what is up for grabs and what should be protected. There is almost a sense of lawlessness towards wildlife as long as you have enough money or power to do so.

and

“We can regain some small sense of that old membership by discovering the original lineaments of our land and steering—at least in the home territory and in the mind— by those rather than the borders of arbitrary nations, states, and counties.” (37)

  • Society needs to make wise choices.

Interesting analogy about how the fireplace and the home that was compared to the world as a whole. It seems we tend to cherish our “fireplace” the most, while many things out of our “living room” tend to be more exploited. Out of sight out of mind.

Inupiaq Spirit Movement Model:

HUMOR
SHARING
HUMILITY
HARD WORK
SPIRITUALITY
COOPERATION
FAMILY ROLES
AVOID CONFLICT
HUNTER SUCCESS
DOMESTIC SKILLS
LOVE FOR CHILDREN
RESPECT FOR NATURE
RESPECT FOR OTHERS
RESPECT FOR ELDERS
RESPONSIBILITY FOR TRIBE
KNOWLEDGE OF LANGUAGE KNOWLEDGE OF FAMILY TREE

This model is a wonderful insight on how to enrich not only ones life, but life all AROUND them as well. They are a value of “Grandmother’s Wisdom” or ancestral knowledge.

American society (like any other) has its own set of unquestioned assumptions. It still maintains a largely uncritical faith in the notion of continually unfolding progress. It cleaves to the idea that there can be unblemished scientific objectivity. And most fundamentally it operates under the delusion that we are each a kind of “solitary knower”—that we exist as rootless intelligences without layers of localized contexts. Just a “self” and the “world.” In this there is no real recognition that grandparents, place, grammar, pets, friends, lovers, children, tools, the poems and songs we remember, are what we think with. Such a solitary mind—if it could exist—would be a boring prisoner of abstractions. With no surroundings there can be no path, and with no path one cannot become free. No wonder the parents of the Eskimo children of the whole Kotzebue Basin posted the “Inupiaq Values” in their schools.

  • I read this and immediately went “wow”, because Snyder is 100 percent right and addresses things most people would even consider to think. We do tend to see things as “self” and “world”. America is in essence, a country of narcissism.

“Native people everywhere are now conducting an underprivileged and underfunded fight against unimaginably wealthy corporations to resist logging or oil exploration or uranium mining on their own land.” (80)

  • It sickens me how much U.S. government has exploited and impoverished Native people and their sacred lands. This example reminded me of Standing Rock…This stuff is STILL going on today.

“Mountains and waters” is a way to refer to the totality of the process of nature. As such it goes well beyond dichotomies of purity and pollution, natural and artificial. The whole, with its rivers and valleys, obviously includes farms, fields, villages, cities, and the (once comparatively small) dusty world of human affairs.” (102)

  • As someone who is a boater and snowboarder, I really do agree with this passage.

“Mountains also have mythic 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. Folk (and Vajrayana) Buddhist iconography personifies.” (101)

  • I found this perception of the mountains and water extraordinary and beautifully put… Synder does it again!

“If you doubt Mountains walking you doubt your own walking”

10.31.17

Mickayla’s Notes on Gary Snyder The Practice of the Wild

“Such are the lessons of the wild. We can appreciate the elegance of the forces that shape life and the world, that have shaped every line of our bodies. We also see that we must try to live without causing unnecessary harm, not just to fellow humans but to all beings” (pg 4)

“To be truly free one must take on the basic conditions as they are—painful, impermanent, open, imperfect—and then be graceful for the impermanence and the freedom it grants us” (pg 5)

If this is what it means to be “truly free,” then our definition as Americans is very different… We believe that as Americans we can do and say what we please because we are “free.” Yet, the true meaning of “freedom,” at least as it is defined by Berry, is fleeting and should not be taken for granted.

“No expectations, alert and sufficient, grateful and careful, generous and direct” ( pg 26)

“Nature: natal, pregnant, generate, kin” (pg 8)

“Mother nature”

Nature as female, and nature as the provider

 “Language is… endlessly hybridizing, changing its own rules as it goes… Even as language reflects and informs the shifting values of the peoples whose minds it inhabits and glides through” (pg 8)

  • Language (and words) reflects the people, time, and culture within which it is being used
  • This is why our definitions of words have the connotations that they do/ are defined the way they are
  • (See quote on pg 9 and 10 comparing the definitions of animals, plants, land, foodcrops, society, individuals, and behavior that are “wild” by the dictionary and by Berry)
  • Things that are “wild” are defined by what they are not, automatically assigning them a negative connotation
  • In some ways, humans seek to “domesticate” the wild, while in other cases, we envy the wild for its pureness and richness
  • How do we view nature in our culture due to language vs. how do other cultures view nature due to their language?

“Wilderness may temporarily dwindle, but wildness won’t go away… Much is already lost—the soils and waters unravel: ‘What’s that dark thing in the water?’ Is it not an oil-soaked otter? Where do we start to resolve the dichotomy of the civilized and the wild?” (pg 16)

  • I thought that it was interesting how Snyder spent a while on page 15 and 16 describing the ways in which wildness still exists, even within “civilization,” and then ends the section with “’What’s that dark thing in the water?’ Is it not an oil-soaked otter?”… Showing how wildness may creep into our “civilizations,” but not always unaffected.
  • I think the quote “Where do we start to resolve the dichotomy of the civilized and the wild?” is very important, especially after all that was just said by Snyder.
  • To resolve the dichotomy of the civilized and the wild, we must first resolve to be whole” (24).

“The depths of the mind, the unconscious, are our inner wilderness areas, and that is where a bobcat is right now. I do not mean personal bobcats in personal psyches, but the bobcat that roams from dream to dream. The conscious agenda-planning ego occupies a very tiny territory… and the rest takes care of itself. The body is, so to speak, in the mind. They are both wild.” (pg 18).

  • I think that this concept is very interesting, and I like how he worded it—saying we have a bobcat in our mind…as in: most of our mind is wild… very little is actually “conscious”
  • The parts of our brain (automatic responses to things, as listed on pg 17, as the automatic processes that keep our bodies alive) that are not “conscious” are the wild parts of us—they are what makes us animals.

“Why should the peculiarities of human consciousness be the narrow standard by which other creatures are judged?” (pg 21)

“Perhaps one should not talk or write too much about the wild world: it may be that it embarrasses other animals to have attention called to them” (pg 23)

“Understanding the commons and its role within the larger regional culture is one more step toward integrating ecology with economy (pg 40)

  • How do we, as humans with many different cultures, “understand the commons” or teach each other what “the commons” is?

“Bioregional awareness teaches us in specific ways.” (pg 42)

  • Maybe if more people were more aware of where they lived (in terms of plants, weather, landscape, etc.) they would be more likely to protect it and respect it.
  • “It prepares us to begin to be at home in this landscape.” (pf 43)
  • Of course we will protect our own homes.
  • “There are tens of millions of people in North America who were physically born here but who are not actually living her intellectually, imaginatively, or morally.” (pg 43

“The state is destroyed, but the mountains and rivers remain.” (pg 44)

  • Nature, wilderness, and wildness will live on without us

Meghan’s Notes on Gary Snyder The Practice of the Wild

  • Buddhist ways, wildness, wildlife, the world
  • What is the difference between wildness and wildlife? How can we think of this through the lens of the books we have read so far?

Preface

  • “Who am I? What am I doing here? What’s going on?”
  • Discussing his biography and past
  • “The Practice of the Wild suggests that we engage in more than environmentalist virtue, political keenness, or useful and necessary activism” (XI)

The Etiquette of Freedom

  • “I hope to investigate the meaning of wild and how it connects with free and what one would want to do with these meanings” (5)
  • Italicized words such as free, wild, nature
  • ‘Wildness is not just the ‘preservation of the world’ it is the world” (6)
  • The whole informational subchapter of The Words Nature, Wild, and Wilderness”
  • “Our bodies are wild” (16)

The Place, The Region, and the Commons

  • Where is ‘home’
  • Regions
  • Public lands conservation movement
  • “The commons are the contract a people make with their local natural system” (33)
  • The history of the commons (33-35)
  • “The region is the elsewhere of civilization” (40)
  • Bioregional awareness (42)
  • “Cultural pluralism and multilingualism are the planetary norm. We seek the balance between cosmopolitan pluralism and deep local consciousness. We are asking how the whole human race can regain self-determination in place after centuries of having been disenfranchised by hierarchy and/or centralized power. Do not confuse this exercise with ‘nationalism’, which is exactly the opposite, the imposter, the puppet of the state, the grinning ghost of the lost community.” (46)

Twanny Grammar

  • music
  • religion
  • “grandmother wisdom” (60-61)
  • “In very early China diviners heated tortoise shell over flame till it cracked and then read meanings from the design of the cracks” (71)
  • “To speak of an ‘ecology of language’ might start with recognizing the common coexistence of levels, codes, slangs, dialects, whole languages, and languages even of different families-in one speaker” (78)
  • Nature’s Writing: “One of the formal criteria of humanistic scholarship is that it be concerned with the scrutiny of texts. A text is information stored through time. The stratigraphy of rocks, layers of pollen in a swamp, the outward expanding circles in the trunk of a tree, can be seen as texts” (71).

10.26.17

Anna’s Reading Notes on Edward Abbey The Monkey Wrench Gang

While other books we’ve read use overarching metaphors–characters, setting, dialogue, allegories–to address larger issues, Ed Abbey’s novel can only be described as straightforward. His characters say exactly what they mean and issues are addressed head on. The characters are definitely the most interesting part of this story. They are unique and strange individuals. While Doc Sarvis, George Hayduke, and Seldom Seen Smith all have fascinating perspectives, Bonnie Abbzug is the character I find the most intriguing. As the only woman in the group she is the other. Her character can be problematic at times Seeing as she is always ‘with’ one of the men in the group, she is put into the role of being an extension of whoever she is sleeping with. However, she is also one of the strongest characters. She does not have any reservations when it comes to standing up for herself and what she believes in. While she does have relationships with both Hayduke and Doc Sarvis, each of their characters bring out her stronger qualities.

“‘I’m no girl,’ Bonnie said. ‘I’m a grown up woman. I’m twenty-eight and a half years old’”(pg. 72).

This quote addresses the fact that everyone in the group, and the narrator as well, insist on referring to her as “girl”.

“‘Why is he always trying to monkey wrench into my plans?’

Your plans? What do you mean, your plans, you arrogant, pig-headed, self-centered schmuck. Your plans! What about the rest of us?’”(pg. 180). This quote shows that Bonnie can stand up to the ‘scariest’, ‘toughest’ guy in the group.

“‘Fuck off.’

‘Touche. Doc, are you going to sit there like a lump of lard and let that hairy swine insult me?’

‘Well… yes,’ Doc said, after due consideration.

‘You better. I’m a full-grown woman, and I can take care of myself.’”(pg. 118).

This dialogue sums up most of the interactions between Bonnie and Doc. Doc is a very mild person. He is so unlike Bonnie, he makes her seem even more powerful in comparison.

“‘Miss Abbzug?’

‘Miz Abbzug.’”(pg. 55).

This quote is simple, yet explanatory. Bonnie is constantly correcting the “Miss” that people insist on addressing her as. Simple, repetitive acts like this one show her refusal to give up her beliefs, even in the smallest of circumstances.

Ariel’s Reading Notes on Edward Abbey The Monkey Wrench Gang

63 – “‘The wilderness once offered men a plausible way of life,’ the doctor said. ‘Now it functions as a psychiatric refuge. Soon there will be no wilderness…. Soon there will be no place to go. Then the madness becomes universal.”

  • Connection to Refuge
  • Idea of wilderness

78 – “One thin scream came floating down, like a feather, from the silver-clouded sky. Hawk. Redtail, solitaire, one hawk passing from above the red reef, above the waves of Triassic sandstone, with a live snake clutched in its talons. The snake wriggled, casually, as it was borne away to a different world. Lunchtime.”

  • This seemed like a random line, but it is also a transition and a good way of using a transition. It uses a natural scenery to add a pause and then the story moves on to time passing.
  • Also it brings up birds which connects to Refuge

82 – “They heard the hoot of an owl, the cries of little birds retiring to sleep in the dusty cottonwoods. . . Almost all the country within their view was roadless, uninhabited, a wilderness. They meant to keep it that way. They sure meant to try. Keep it like it was.”

  • This is their overarching belief system of the wilderness
  • Do you think having sounds of birds a good addition to the story?

83 – “There was no trail, no path. Smith picked the most economic route among the scrubby trees, around the bayonet leaves of the yucca and the very hairy prickly pear, across the little sandy washes below the crest of the ridge. As much as possible he led them on the rock, leaving no tracks.”

  • Beliefs – leave no tracks

P 84 – “Doc hates ants,” Bonny explained. “And they hate him.”

  • Followed by an ANTHILL METAPHOR
  • Explains more about doc
  • Basically saying if you hate nature, it will hate you back

85 – “Always pull up survey stakes,” he said. “Anywhere you find them. Always. That’s the first goddamned general order in the monkey wrench business. Always pull up survey stakes.”

  • Their beliefs – clean up the world and rid it of bad technology

92 – “He struggled for a while with the plug, finally broke it loose and let out the oil. The great machine began to bleed; its lifeblood drained out with pulsing throbs, onto the dust and sand. When it was all gone, he replaced the plug. Why? Force of habit — thought he was changing the oil in his jeep.”

  • The idea that they’re making something inanimate seem alive
  • It’s second nature to use these mechanics that are making the world more unnatural
  • Also destroying things then fixing it is natural

Questions:

How does the Monkey Wrench Gang execute writing about nature differently than other books we’ve read? Is it effective?

Why is it important to read about the individual characters and their personalities in this story?

Is this book effective? Is the way they talk about nature effective?

Nick’s Reading Notes on Edward Abbey The Monkey Wrench Gang

  • All characters are very different
    • Doc Sarvis: Middle aged man with a MD. Enjoys “highway beautification”… Burning or knocking down billboards.“With a five-gallon can of gasoline he sloshed about the legs and support members of the selected target, then applied a match. Everyone should have a hobby.” (1)
  • This is a great introduction to Sarvis, and the book.
    • Hayduke: Vietnam War veteran. Was captured by the Vietcong during the end of his time in the war. Loves drinking beer and the destruction of many things. Has held a grudge against a police officer Hall, and in chapter two he talks over the police transmission system of Officer Hall’s stolen police car and exposes his hate “Fuck the Federal Communications Commission. Fuck you, too, Flagstaff fuzz. I piss on you all from a considerable height.” (29)Hayduke then proceeds to drive Halls police car to a nearby train crossing and leaves it to be smashed by the locomotive.“Hayduke abandoned Hall’s Car there in the crux of the crossing. Before leaving, however, he grabbed a shotgun, a riot helmet and a six battered flashlight, carrying them off into the night. As he hustled away from the scene of his crime, arms full and heart beating with joy, he heard-beneath the screech of brakes, the bellow of klaxons-one solid metallic crash, deeply satisfying, richly prolonged.” (30)
    • Seldom Seen Smith: Mormon man with multiple wives who also enjoys the practice of destruction.“The blue death, Smith called it. Like Hayduke his heart was full of a healthy hatred.”(36)
    • Smith has a love for the mountains and rivers and displays this in his introduction in chapter three where he plots the destruction of the Glen Canyon Dam.“They stared at it. The dam demanded attention. It was a magnificent mass of cement. Vital statistics: 792,000 tons of concrete aggregate; cost $750 million and the lives of sixteen workmen. Four years in the making, prime contractor Morrison-Knudsen, Inc., sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, courtesy U.S. taxpayers.“It’s too big”, she said“That’s right honey,” he said “And that’s why.”“You can’t.”“There’s a way.”“Like what?”

      “I don’t know. But there’s got to be a way” (37)

  • Bonnie Abbzug: Young girl in her 20’s who also shares the common hobby of “highway beautification” with Doc Sarvis. Sometimes objected by Hayduke.“No fucking girls,” he hollered. “This is a man’s work.” (69)
  • All of the 4 main charcters have very different personalities and reasons for why they are involved together. But they all share a common interest in the destruction of infurstructure for one environmental reason or another.

“What’s more American than violence?” Hayduke wanted to know. “Violence, it’s as American as pizza pie.” (156)

“We are caught,” Continued the good doctor, “in the iron trends of a technological juggernaut. A mindless machine. With a breeder reactor for a heart.” (64)

10.17.17

Ethan’s Reading notes on Terry Tempest William Refuge

  1. Williams opens with a “Prologue”. What is the tone of the prologue and how does this tone/theme tie into the rest of the novel or how does it give an indication regarding what the novel is about? Is the tone plaintive, reflective, or educational? What are some examples of imagery the author uses?
  2. How does memory and dreaming affect the tone of the prologue? The narrator says, “This story is my return” (4). What is the “return” that the narrator refers to?
  3. In the chapter, “Burrowing Owls”, Williams offers some interesting portrayals of the natural environment. She writes, “I was raised to believe in a spirit world, that life exists before the earth and will continue to exist afterward, that each human being, bird, and bulrush, along with all other life forms had a spirit life before it came to dwell physically on the earth” (14). How do the ideas regarding nature in this passage relate to the attitudes expressed in Solar Storms by Linda Hogan? Both books utilize a holistic, Native American perspective toward the natural environment.
  4. Does this incorporation of Native American attitudes toward nature help to further the overall message of William’s work?
  5. In the later section of the novel, a woman from the Department of Energy had no idea that the nuclear-waste repository in Lavender Canyon existed (242). How does this scene illustrate how politics and government view the importance of the preservation of the environment?
  1. Why do you think the author did not assign a name to this government official? -possibly to illustrate the machine-like qualities of a government system… Why?
  2. How does Williams portray death and illness in the novel?- (see p. 282). Is it portrayed as a negative part of life or as merely part of the natural process?
  3. Williams writes, “Since Mother’s death, I have been liberated from my optimism. I have nothing to hope for because what I hoped for is gone” (239). Is the narrator relieved or grieved to be rid of optimism? What is the tone? Or does the narrator just accept death as a part of life?
  4. What is the significance of the scar (from the “desert”-243)? How does she view her scar, i.e. does it bother her?
  5. How is spirituality represented in the novel? Is it present throughout the narrative? What is its function?

Chelsea’s Notes on Terry Tempest Williams Refuge

Prologue:

-Connection between Great Salt Lake and Williams’ own life (3)

-”Memory is the only way home” (4)

Burrowing Owls:

-Great Salt Lake=”[…] liquid lie of the West” (5)

-GSL water levels fluctuate due to climate changes (weather patterns, evaporation rate, etc) (6)

-The GSL water level rising to 4206’ made it a possibility for the bird refuge to flood (8)

-Burrowing Owls as “sentries” (8)

-Women connected to nature (10)

-Removal of the owls (12)

-Nature’s connection to spirituality (14 & 18)

Whimbrels:

-Williams’ connection to birds (21)

-Cancer>controlling fate and making a connection to the “infected” land around GSL (27 28)

-Nature’s connection to spirituality (29)

-”Solitude” as strength and serenity (29)

-Nature as a healing power (39)

-Connection between her family changing (due to mother’s disease) and the wellbeing of the bird refuge being threatened > ”I could not separate…Quicksand” quote (40)

Snowy Egrets:

-Oxford English dictionary definition of cancer (43)

-War terminology being used in treatment is also used when it comes to the destruction of nature (43)

-Cancer as our own creation much like devastation of nature is our own creation> “It surfaces…The creation we fear” quote (44)

Barn Swallows:

-Women as an environment “When we outgrow our mother’s body, our cramps become her own.” (50)

-”Dying doesn’t cause suffering. Resistance to dying does.” (53)

Wilson’s Phalarope:

-”[…] Great Salt Lake is above the law.” (58)

-Set in 1982 (61)

-Antelope Island compared to her mother (64)

California Gulls:

-Nature’s connection to Mormonism (69-70)

Pink Flamingos:

-Set in 1984 (82)

Yellow-headed Blackbirds:

-Linking Mother’s health to the GSL’s health (108)

-Women connected to nature (109)

Killdeer:

-“How do you find refuge in change?” (119)

Magpies:

-Set in 1986 (135)

-Trying to control nature is useless “‘Sure, this lake has a mind but it cares nothing for ours.’” (139)

Long-billed Curlews:

-Society vs. nature (144)

-Connection between Curlews becoming used to her presence & her mother accepting her cancer>“One begins…toward life.” (147)

-The GSL water level has rised 7’ since the beginning of the memoir.

Madison’s Notes on Terry Tempest Williams Refuge

  • On some level, everyone blames some entity for cancer. Does Tempest (and you as the reader) blame natural causes or manmade causes? Are the both unnatural?

  • Tempest personifies/humanizing the characteristics of the lake, but she naturalizes(uses nature to explain characteristics of human life. Are they one in the same to her? Which does she value more?

  • P119: “How do you find refuge in change?” -Tempest

  • How does Tempest relate the rising and lowering of the lake to her mother’s cancer?

P10: “We spoke of rage. Of women and landscape. How our bodies and the body of the earth have been minded.”

P15: “Our attachment to the land was our attachment to each other.”

P22: “I could never have anticipated its rise.” (Talking about the Great Salt Lake)

Then right after the end of this chunk, she uses the same terminology to state, “My mother was aware of a rise on the left side of her abdomen.”

P46: “The flooding of Salt Lake City lifted everyone’s spirits.” This is because of the sense of community it builds when everyone comes together to fight the water and keep loved ones safe. Is this comparable to the strong family bond Tempest’s mother needs to fight cancer?

P86: “I am realizing the natural world is my connection to myself. Landscape brings me simplicity.” Mother says in her letter, does nature help her fight cancer?

P108: “Mother’s health seems to be stable. The Great Salt Lake seems to be stable.”

P133: Tempest was asking her Mimi about when she lost her mother and how challenging that was, then Tempest’s mother backs out of a family trip. She follows this chunk with a stand-alone line, “It rains and rains. The Great Salt Lake continues to rise.” What do you make of this?

P43: “Can we be at war with ourselves and still find peace?”

  • Can we be at war with the earth and still find peace? Tempest draws such strong parallels between nature/birds and humans, so is it possible to read this quote as something more than just the chemotherapy she is talking in the context of?

How does Tempest take on the definition of “Solitude?”

  • P15: “The gift of being alone. I can never get enough.”

  • P25: “It’s wonderful to be in a place where no one knows you,” -Mother

  • P29: “protects me from my mind…We are no more and no less than the life that surrounds us.”

  • P68: “I fled for Bear River, for the birds, wishing someone would rescue me.” She feels content with being alone and in solitude, is that because she has the birds?

Ways that Tempest uses the Birds to explain life or relate to:

P21: “The birds and I share a natural history. It is a matter of rootedness, of living inside a place for so long that the mind and imagination fuse.”

P36: Comparing their angst of waiting for their mother’s results with “Their melancholy sweeps over us like the shadow of the raven.”

P55: “I admire starlings’ remarkable adaptability. Home is everywhere.” Tempest has such a strong connection with nature, is she able to feel at home in it, specifically the Refuge or the dump?

P56: “Perhaps we project onto starlings that which we deplore in ourselves: our numbers, our aggression, our greed, and our cruelty. Like starlings, we are taking over the world.” DISCUSS!

P97: “The birds of Bear River have been displaced; so have I.” Tempest then goes to introduce her own cancer, her “path” and feeling uneasy about the unfamiliar. Is the change in the birds causing a harder time for her to accept her own change?

P121: What is Tempest trying to say with the dead swan that she took time to properly lay to rest in the “mother” of Great Salt Lake.

P134: “I saw a roadrunner poised on the desert. I have never considered them to be a patriotic bird.” Is she seeing birds in a way to help make sense of what is taking place around her?

10.12.17

Anna’s Reading  Notes on Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms

This novel uses intricate symbolism to address issues that we have been discussing in class all year–the ‘distinction’ between humans and nature; the exploitation of the natural world; the idea of forgotten, ancient knowledge; etc. In the novel, Angel, Buch, Agnes, and Dora-Rouge embark on a daunting journey back to the place of their ancestors, The Fat Eaters. Throughout this journey there is the constant debate of whether or not the map is what they need to get there. Bush seems to think that it is. However, Dora-Rouge seems so always be aware that the map is not the answer. There are many symbols for the colonization of indigenous lands and people in this novel, however the one of the map is recurring and it literally stands for how they find their way in the world.

On page 122 and 123 there is talk about the maps.

“With my own eyes I saw that none of the maps were the same”

The use of maps shows a shift from Indigenous, oral tradition, to the use of written information. However, when the lands change–which their lands are so well known for doing–the map cannot change with them. The written information of a map lacks the fluidity that cultural knowledge possesses.

While Bush has a trail mapped out, Dora -Rouge offers information that cannot be found on a map, only in the stories and history of the land. Pg. 136

“But there is a way…”

Dora reiterates the story of the beluga whale that was brought through the land using the rivers. Again on Pg. 137, she tells the rest of her remembered knowledge of the land.

Throughout the novel Dora-Rouge seems to be the tie to the old world. She acts as one of the last truly native people, who knew the world before and during its colonization. She tells her story on page 167 about when she was taken to go to school against her will. On pg. 168 she says,

“But it was a small pain next to the memory of having seen my sister cry and call out my name, begging the righteous men to let me go.”

This sentence represents the destruction of native culture in a very blatant way. We see Dora-Rouge being literally ripped away from the people under the guise of righteousness.

On page 173, we come back to the map. When Bush opens it, it falls apart in her hands, showing the reader how useless it is. Dora-Rouge laughs and says,

“Throw it away”

Angel goes on to question why someone like Bush would trust the map in the first place, seeing as she doesn’t trust those who made it.

There are many examples of this invader/indigenous relationship in this novel. However, the last few chapters really use imagery to show the exploitation of both the native people and land. There is lots of description of machines, guns, pavement, tanks, (Pg. 277, 284, 327, 328) things that never would have been brought up in the first half of the novel. This language paints a new industrialized picture that is so far removed from the original image of the novel. This story moves from a feeling of wildness and freedom, to the reality of those things being taken away.

Devon’s Reading  Notes on Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms

-Poison Road
-Angel : the girl who would return
-schizophrenic mother Hannah
-Bush Angel’s grandmother: tried to save Hannah from her demons
-Ways of her native people : human and natural worlds are one and for whom life is respected -Angel falls in love with the land
– Journey in canoe to stop dams being built in the northern tribal lands that are being flooded and destroyed
-Angel looking for her mother in the Fat Eaters tribe (ancestors)
-Dora-Rouge consults dead husband for advice
– Theme : Tragedy offers opportunity
-Ceremony/Ritual :
-Love and Identity
-Massacre of Indians at Wounded Knee
-Symbol : Water Rising
-Ghost Dance : represents hope
-Symbol : Bears/bear coat

“Beginnings were Important to my people” “Nobody knows where it began, your story” (Hogan 37).

-Angel’s coming of age story
-Fur Island
– Fiction vs. Realism
-treadle sewing machine P.106 discovering herself
-American Indian Movement P.156
-Dora Rouge : Tone of novel P.156
-War in Vietnam
-Reds = Communists
– “Cortes was quoted saying,

“We white men have a disease of the heart, and the only thing that can cure it is gold” (Hogan 203).

-metal signaled an ending
-”Gone were the times my hands were tied down so I wouldn’t hurt myself” (Hogan 204).

“It was a few moments before the small raft of blue flowers, all in a mound, took shape in my eyes…All of us looked at the blossom-laden canoe afloat in clear water. Its Agnes, Bush finally said…I looked at the canoe of flowers and understood immediately that Agnes was dead” (Hogan 208).

“If you listen at the walls of one human being, even if that one is yourself, you will hear the drumming. Older creatures are remembered in the blood. Inside ourselves we are not yet upright walkers. We are tree. We are frog in amber. Maybe earth itself is just now starting to form.” (Hogan 351).

One day, when the light was yellow, I turned to Bush and I said, “Something wonderful lives inside me.” She looked at me. “Yes,” she said. “The early people knew this, that’s why they painted animals on the inside of caves.” Something beautiful lives inside us. You will see. Just believe it. You will see” (Hogan 351).

Luke’s Reading  Notes on Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms

“I believed what the old people said, that fish were a kind of people, like the wolves, and that they wanted to live as much as we did, those of us who had been born to a destiny of death and survived, passing through like small fish through a hole in a net.”- 118

-Do fish and wolves have just as much of a right to live as any human?

-What does it mean for living beings to be treated as equals?

-How can we retain our current standard of living while also respecting and understanding the natural rights of everything on earth?

-The rights we have allotted ourselves are manmade, created recently, they are imperfect and immature.

-The laws of nature have been perfected over many millions of years. Nature is wiser than any politician or philosopher.

“I saw their skinless corpses. I heard their cries and felt their pain. I saw their shadows cross snow, ice and cloud. We Indian people had always lived from them and in some way we were kin, even now.

-How are we connected to animals and plants?

-Do we have the ability to kill and eat animals without abuse and overuse?

-Is there a healthy medium between starving and massive-industrial farming?

“I only knew that I and my many mothers had been lost in sky, water, and the galaxy, as we rested on a planet so small it was invisible to the turning of other worlds.”

-We are insignificant and small

-This fact should only increase our awareness of devotion to a larger cause.

-The fact that this is our only home. (We must preserve it)

Sky-Water-the galaxy- all natural phenomena just as humans are.

Our identities our intertwined with our surroundings

Not only do our surroundings shape us, we shape our surroundings.

Potawami Quote “What can I give in return for the gifts of the earth?”

Many of those gifts- air that we breathe, food that we eat, life itself.

We are harnessed to institution and a competitive economy that relentlessly asks “What more can we take from the Earth?”

Unbridled exploitation is the greatest threat to our earth and our way of life.

Our definitions of sustainability in government and economy revolve around trying to ensure that we can keep on taking, far into the future. Isn’t the question we need, “What does the Earth need from us?”

What is reciprocity?

-often used when describing a human relationship.

– can we go beyond human relationships and look at our relationship to the earth?

How do we give back to an earth that has given us everything?

WE SHOULD BE GRACIOUS TO OUR EARTH

“Water and sky were windows she peered through to something beyond this world. Or perhaps they were mirrors in which she saw herself, her skin, her hands, her thighs, all brand new.”-pg. 176

What does it mean to see yourself “all brand new”?

Do the ripples of a lake distort our image of ourselves, or are we seeing a more accurate, or perhaps a more fascinating version of ourselves?

“the four of us became like one ANIMAL”

The four women are connected to each other as well as with every other thing in nature.

“A good man is the friend of all living things”- Mahatma Gandhi

Think about a bond with a dog or household animal. Why do we feel inherently connected to these animals? What is the difference between a human-human friendship and a human-animal friendship? Are they the same?

How can we escape our socially and culturally assumed identity and use nature to create a new image of ourselves?

“We white men have a disease of the heart, and the only thing that can cure it Is gold.”-pg. 203

How is greed a disease?

Greed clouds our vision of what is important. (Health of mind, body and spirit)

If we are knowingly hurting something that loves us and that we love, are we living in bad faith?

(Bad faith- Intent to deceive, refusal to confront facts or choices.)

How does looking to nature force us out of our bad faith and make us see the world as a friend instead of just a benefit.

Immanuel Kant said people should treat others as an end in themselves and not the means to an end. Are we using the earth as a means to an end? Can nature help us come to terms with the necessary mutualism between humans and the world we live in?

WE LIVE IN THE WORLD, NOT JUST ON IT.

10.10.17

Alexa’s Reading  Notes on Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms

This is a novel about five generations of Cree descendants in the changing world of 1972. Angela is seventeen, who’s been tossed from foster care to foster care her whole life. After feeling fed up with not fitting in, she sends a letter to her supposed grandmother, Agnes, who sends her money immediately for her visit.

The language of this novel is exquisite, honestly. From even ten pages in, it’s very evident the extent of time spent devising a very solid language to discuss this experience.

With the sound of a loon breaking through fog, I had little courage (23)

The examples are both honest and inclusive of nature, binding truth with vulnerability, giving us a very transparent view of our narrator. Despite admiring her great-grandmother Agnes, she sees her as a bit sloppy in Angela’s eyes:

 … it made her look like a hungry animal just stepped out of a cave of winter. It would have seemed a natural thing if leaves and twigs were tangled in it (23)

These descriptions are unbiased, detailed, and full of imagery that helps me imagine an almost Radagast the Brown (of Lord of the Rings) type of character: one with the woods.

Angela describes herself as having two evils that move her: of fears and one of anger. She describes the third as being built, one where she faces her fears head on. This occurs on pages 26 and 27. The passage is just a little long for me to scribe the entirety of, but the language of the whole section is vibrant and descriptive.

The town is described as being built mostly by Christian missionaries, as a poor area with rusty old cars and tar-paper patched houses. Everything but the homes on the Hundred-Year-Old Road were built by the missionaries. Those homes were built by the mostly “mighty woman” (29).

The language used to depict Dora-Rouge was very clear, and stayed with me as an accurate depiction of elderly people. It reminded me almost of how a young child observes their elders.

 … her hands knotted with veins and human tributaries, intricacies a young woman like myself could not imagine (31)

Her mouth might once have been full like mine, except that hers had eaten other foods, spoken another language, and kissed people who’d lived and died long before I was born (31)

The way she uses Dora-Rouge as a comparison to herself, and the old world, is very influential in reiterating the importance and connections between Angela, her family, and their connection to nature, and a culture Angela has been blinded from for many years.

Finally, there’s a real bitter and tense energy felt whenever Angela discusses her mother or her past. From her scar, to just even air:

For me, she was like air. I breathed her. I had to breathe whether I wanted to, and like air, she was invisible… (34)

The first half of this novel gets very deep and personal very fast, and that’s definitely due to Hogan’s vast and in depth vocabulary, and her way with words. I doubt a seventeen year old would speak so descriptively, but maybe. Regardless, the connections in the language between personal anecdote, nature, and place in society really work to Hogan’s advantage.

10.3.17

Mickayla’s Notes on Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of American: Culture and Agriculture. (Chapters 7, 8, and 9)

Chapter 7

We come from the Earth and return to it, and so we live in agriculture as we live in flesh (101)

Some profound resemblances between our treatment of our bodies and our treatment of the Earth (101)

-Our bodies and the Earth are joined inextricably to each other

-They are one

-“To damage the Earth is the damage your children” (110)

A human has no right to destroy what he did not create (103)

-Neither himself nor the Earth

But the concept of health is rooted in the concept of wholeness (107)

To approach the concept of health with a departmentalized band of specialists

-Our modern way of life has fragmented us from the “whole” of creation—they separate us from the “wilderness of creation where we must go to be reborn” (108)

-We cannot exist without the rest of the Earth

-Health is more than a matter of the absence of disease—it means being a part of the whole

-We need other humans as well as plants, animals, and the heavenly bodies (107)

-We should not then, be destroying these things which we need in order to be healthy

If competition is the correct relation of creatures to one another and to the earth, then we must ask why exploitation is not more successful than it is. Why, having lived so long at the expense of other creatures and the earth, are we not healthier and happier than we are? (111)

-I made this point in my blog post I wrote about Silent Spring— “Controlling nature,” after all, “is a phrase conceived in ignorance” Carson said. And this is true—why, if we are “above” nature as a species, would nature respond in the ways it does? With hurricanes and polluted air killing hundreds of people? With islands, where people have lived for hundreds of years, being engulfed by the sea? It seems that if man truly were able and supposed to “control nature,” nature wouldn’t be destroying us in return.

…transforms the body into a consumptive machine (142)

It fragments the creation and sets the fragments into conflict with one another (143) (talking about our economy)

Connection is health (143)

The work thus makes eating both nourishing and joyful, not consumptive…This is health, wholeness, a source of delight…does not cause new problems (143)

-connections to how Masanobu Fukuoka farms

The farm can exist only within the wilderness of mystery and natural force (134)

-systems can only exist within other systems

-Using animals for work in a respectful way (144)

Chapter 8

Ones career is a vehicle, not a dwelling; one is concerned less for where it is than for where it will go (150)

…keeps agriculture in a separate “field” from ecology (158)

-even though agriculture is inherently based upon ecology

-it is dependent on the functioning of ecological systems (systems can only exist within other systems)

It is not widely assumed that the only good reason to study literature or philosophy is to become a teacher of literature or philosophy—in order, that is, to get an income from it (162)

Thus doctors are given higher status than farmers, not because they are more necessary, more useful, more able, more talented or more virtuous, but because they are thought to be better (163)

“Rapid agricultural development has also had a heavy impact on the environment…on the other hand, the development of American agriculture has fostered the growth of an entire agricultural industry” (168)

-It is very hard to see how, as Berry points out, the massive destruction of the environment, which has “a serioud impairment of rural life that is social economic, and ecological” is justified simply by the “growth of agribusiness”

-“The sacrifice of many and of much for the enrichment of a few is thus justified as if the Declaration of Independence had never been written” (168)

-We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

The reason is that this knowledge has no cultural depth or complexity whatever

-Experience, which is the basis of culture, tends always toward wholeness because it is interested in the meaning of what has happened (172)

-Nurturing vs exploiting

-Radical oversimplification (173)

Chapter 9

“…lack of sense of commitment on the part of the labor force to long-run community welfare” –Professor Raup (176)

Modern agriculture has made itself a “science”…cutting itself off from the moral tradition…(176)

The orthodox presume to know, whereas the marginal person is trying to figure out (179)

-Rachel Carson: there is so much we do not know

-Yet we behave as if we do

This principle of accommodating the marigins, of diversity within unity, underlies our constitution and Bill of Rights (183)

“Agribigortry” (184)

9.26.17

Ariel’s notes on Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Nurturer vs Exploiter

“The exploiter is a specialist, an expert; the nurturer is not. The standard of the exploiter is efficiency; the nurturer is not. The standard of the exploiter’s goal is money, profit; the nurturer’s goal is health – his land’s health, his own his family’s, his community’s his country’s. Whereas the exploiter asks of a piece of land only how much and how quickly it can be made to produce, the nurturer asks a question that is much more complex and difficult: What is its carrying capacity?” (Berry p. 7 and 8)

  • This idea is interesting because it shows there are two sides to the story – the nurturer and the exploiter. They both have reasons to be thinking the way they do, they both have pros and cons. So which one is right and what side do we take?

Terrarium View

Quote from David Budbill of Wolcott, Vermont – “Terrarium View of the World: nature always at a distance, under a glass” (Berry 28).

  • I like this wording because I’ve never heard it this way before. We tend to put nature at a distance and observe it from afar, when really, we’re living in it and should be treating it as so.

We must see the difference.

“Only if we know how the land was can we tell how it is. Records, figures, statistics will not suffice; to know, in the true sense is to see. We must see the difference — in rates of erosion, for instance, or in soil structure or fertility — in order to keep it indispensable” (Berry 30).

  • Good point. We don’t know what the difference is and it doesn’t affect us until we do. We see a park turn into a parking lot and it only affects us because we saw the before. Most generations are moving to places where they didn’t see the before. We also don’t live long enough to see the before. But we have to actually see it, it can’t just be pictures. It has to be real, and it’s impossible to see all that change in the short lives we have.

Because we can

“He assumes that there is nothing that he can do that he should not do, nothing that he can use that he should not use” (Berry 53)

  • In other words, we just do it because we can and it’s ours to use. Thought on this? Why do we do this? Do you take things for granted in your life (like leaving lights on or water running)?

Soil

“The soil is the greatest connector of our lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it, we can have no life. It is alive itself. It is a grave, too, of course…” (Berry 86).

  • Interesting description of soil. It goes on to describe how people are buried in soil and things die in it then are used for regrowth. Why is soil so important? Is there anything else that’s as important as Berry explains soil to be? What other kinds of things do we overlook everyday?

Farming and art

“Because the soil is alive, various, intricate, and because its processes yield more readily to imitation than to analysis, more readily to care than to coercion, agriculture can never be an exact science. There is an inescapable kinship between farming and art, for farming depends as much on character, devotion, imagination, and the sense of structure, as on knowledge. It is a practical art” (Berry 87).

  • Do you think farming is an art?

We are one body

“Values may be corrupted or abolished in only one discipline at the start, but the damage must sooner or later spread to all; it can no more be confined than air pollution. If we corrupt agriculture we corrupt culture, for in nature and within certain invariable social necessities we are one body, and what afflicts the hand will afflict the brain” (Berry 91).

  • Idea of values is interesting. Why does everyone have different values?

  • What do you think of this idea of being one body?

  • How is the brain being afflicted? Why the brain?

Quote on page 96

But just stop for a minute and think about what it means to live in a land where 95 percent for the people can be fred from the drudgery of preparing their own food (Berry 96).

  • What are the effects of that? Is this a bad thing? Is it weird that we don’t prepare our food ourselves?

Competition

“The willingness to abuse other bodies is the willingness to abuse one’s own. To damage the earth is to damage your children. To despise the ground is to despise its fruit; to despise the fruit is to despise its eaters. The wholeness of health is broken by despite” (Berry 106).

  • What are other ways that we’re abusing “other bodies”?

  • What is a “wholeness of health”?

  • What are your thoughts?

Meghan’s Notes on Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Chapter 1: The Unsettling of America

  • “Time after time, in place after place, these conquerors have fragmented and demolished traditional communities, these beginnings of domestic cultures.” (6)
  • Race
  • “This escapes is, of course, illusory, for one man’s producer is another’s consumer, and even the richest and most mobile will soon find it hard to escape the noxious effluents and fumes of the various public services.” (7)
  • Not the modern or new issues of America… but the ones that have been around since white men first stepped foot onto the soil.
  • Metaphors/Comparisons
  • The difference between and exploiter and a farmer
    • Exploiter: always will push towards destruction
    • Exploitive minds
  • “I believe that the answers are to be found in our history: in its until now subordinate tendency of settlement, of domestic permanence.” (15)

Chapter 2: The Ecological Crisis as a Crisis of Character

  • Understanding what you’re doing, not knowing what you’re doing, and knowing yet doing it anyways.

Question: What would our world be without us though? Everything we do seems to be a ‘problem’ yet the world also functions with us instead of functioning against us.

  • Consumer vs Producer
  • “it is for the reason that none of our basic problems is ever solved. Indeed, it is for this reason that our basic problems are getting worse. The specialists are profiting too well from symptoms, evidently, to be concerned about cures…” (24)

Chapter 3: The Ecological Crisis as a Crisis of Agriculture

  • Page 32, discuss the idea that when humans buy property and they leave it is worse than us taking over the entire thing.
  • “Social fashion, delusion, and propaganda have combined to persuade the public that our agriculture is for the best of reasons the envy of the Modern World” (36)
  • Food being a weapon and it not being allowed as a threat.

Chapter 4: The Agricultural Crisis as a Crisis of Culture

  • Henry County, Kentucky
    • Farming
    • Small simple productions
    • Being forced out by money
  • 1973-1000 Kentucky dairies went out of business (46)
  • “what can I do with what I know? Without at the same time asking, how can I be responsible for what I know?” (52)

Chapter 5: Living in the Future: The “Modern” Agricultural Ideal

Question: Everything that we do is questionable towards the earth? So why is it that we continue to do these thing? How many issues can we actually change our entire lives around for?

  • Modern Specialist/Industrialist
  • “Economic exploitation and competition as we now know them were thus established at the beginning of American history.” (58)
  • “Fully air conditioned womb” (61)

Question: We as humans live the way we do because of our progression in technology, living habits, experiments, etc. so for us to live in our future we must be able to succeed going forward and to always have a progressive life that we are striving towards. So how do we change to make our environment and earth better without stopping ourselves in our tracks?

  • Urbanizing
    • Going to college
    • Not driving a standard
    • Having a color tv
  • Chemicals on the farms
    • ‘to save labor’
  • Survival of the fittest
  • “If human values are removed from production, how can they be preserved in consumption? How can we value our lives if we devalue them in making a living?” (84)

Chapter 6: The Use of Energy

  • ‘infinite’ energy
  • solar
  • “The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life.” (90)
  • Machine use

Chapter 7: The Body and the Earth

  • Poetry
  • Mind, Body, Soul
  • “But the concept of health is rooted in the concept of wholeness” (107)
  • “Healing is impossible in loneliness…” (108)

9.21.17

Colby’s Notes on Turtle Island by Gary Snyder

It is interesting to say the least, that Snyder starts the book with his idea of that the U.S.A. is more than states and places, but home to many walks of wildlife and we are mainly a country of watersheds. I live near a watershed back home and it is crawling with life! But the point I he’s trying to make is that we focus too much on ourselves and our values as human beings, that we tend to forget about the welfare other living things.

Manzanita shows us how we want to go back to the “Good ol days” but in fact, compared to a squirrel who is vulnerable and gets eaten by the fox, we actually have it great as humans usually, solely based off the fact we do not get eaten and we are advanced enough to defend ourselves. I also saw the fox metaphorically as human progress and the squirrel as the natural world. We are crushing the world with our sly, fox like way of taking over.

In “It Pleases”, the opening lines give a cool contrast: Above the capitol, a large bird soars in to watch the surrounding city. To humans, the power of politics and world business seems to be a big deal. My dad works with numbers and it can consume ones life. People are so involved in their own life and think theyre tasks are so important, but in the grand scheme they are really not. This poem is trying to portray how arbitrary this life is by saying “The center of power is nothing! Nothing here. Old white stone domes, strangely quiet people, Earth-sky-bird patterns idly interlacing” (Snyder). You give power to what matters by focusing on it, imagine if we all focused on making this world a better place?

Hemp/ Wild Mushroom

I found it suprising he talked about hemp and wild mushrooms just given the date on this book. Furthermore, it is interesting that he put these poems in here and wrote about them like helps to mankind. Psychedelics and hemp alike are natural things that have been put on this Earth so I believe that is why they were incorporated. Interesting he called it “A help to man”

Mother Earth: Her Whales

This is the first poem of Snyder ‘s where I went “wow” while reading it. The imagery and wordplay even in the first quartet is really vivacious. It is describing the animals in the forest and they’re daily doings. However, Snyder portrays it in such a way that they almost seem to be uneasy (and rightfully so). This sets up for how Brazil is basically whoring out massive ecosystems along with their indigenous people, all to raise GDP. Synder doesn’t seem too fond of Brazils leadership, calling them a “Robot in a suit who peddles a delusion called Brazil, and rightfully so. They are setting an awful example for the world, but most importantly, are absolutely decimating all life for miles on end. The imagery about the whales and the specification that went into it was astounding. And finally, it is sad how Japan has done all of that to the ocean. It is so fascinating how Snyder says this land is really nobody’s but people just claim it and try to control it.

Affluence is a really interesting piece. Loggers I feel like are often left out of the conversation when it comes to really dangerous jobs, but logging where there’s a fire hazard almost every day is undeniably crazy. It is sad that these loggers died, however, it was interesting how it ended with they were “Paying the price somebody didn’t pay” as if the trees, or Earth, were exacting revenge.

Ethnobotany

This poem was very appealing to the senses. I was taken to the place where these guys would take 3 days cutting a tree down and just imagine the enormity of them. With Snyder’s descriptive style, the oak smell and the leaves with their colors captivated me. When he spoke of one being poison, I thought randomly of how scary that must have been for the first people to try out foods that were poisonous, because they’re the only reason we know why they are that way. Anyway, the last line was captivating as well. “Taste all, and hand the knowledge down. He gives the trees and leaves life, as if they have knowledge and wisdom of their own. Some trees live to be 1000’s of years, so this idea is actually very fascinating.

Nick’s Gary Snyder Turtle Island Reading Notes

Title: I appreciate the title of this book as described in the introduction. Turtle Island

Within the introduction it is mentioned that our newfound land (USA) is a “great turtle or serpent of eternity”. Following this it mentions some of the physical land features within our “country”… watersheds, life communities- plant zones.. “The “U.S.A.” and its states and counties are arbitrary and inaccurate impositions on what is really here.”

I like that last quote a lot because it tells of how political boundaries all over the world don’t justify what is actually found within those imaginary boundaries. SO much life and beauty is in those boundaries, and they are not all separate they are connected together by ecosystems and climates and much more.

It seems like in Snyder’s writing/ poems there is a message he is trying to convey, but also leaves it up to the reader to decide what they want about it.

He speaks from the third person point of view a lot as well as speaking from first person in his own perspective.

In many of his poems he talks about one thing in nature and picks it apart in many different directions; good, bad, healthy, unhealthy, beneficial, detrimental.

I can see within his writing his deep appreciation for nature and even its smallest details, its smallest sounds, and even the things within nature that we wouldn’t usually think about.

Page (27) Manzanita

Before dawn the coyotes

Weave medicine songs
dream nets-spirit baskets-
milky way music

. . .

A woodpecker
Drums and echoes
Across the still meadow

It seems as though within this poem Snyder is trying to tell of the beauty of natural sounds within nature. He wants us to listen to the sounds of nature for more than their literal action but how they can be “milky way music”. I liked this poem because while I’m in nature I prefer to hike without music and hear the sound of water running through rocks; or the wind through the trees and leaves.

Page (39) The Uses of Light

“It warms my bones say the stones”

“I take it into me and grow, say the trees, leaves above, roots below”

“A high tower on a wide plain. If you climb up one floor, you’ll see a thousand miles more”

This poem seems pretty straight forward from the title to its contents, but what I took away from it is how light is much more than illuminating, it gives life and heat which are all things we need to survive. I can close my eyes while I lay outside, but the warmth of the sun that I can feel is comforting.

Page (45) Hemp

“To bind his loads and ease his mind”

 It seems in the contents of this poem Snyder is talking about smoking pot and it’s just making me wonder if part of his Zen Buddhism background involved the hemp plant.

Page (46) The wild mushroom

“Some might make you mighty sick they say, or bring you close to god”

“For food, for fun, for poison They are a help to man”

In this poem Snyder talks about how mushrooms are beneficial to us in many ways. Whether they are for food or poison, which are complete opposites, and he also tells of the enjoyment of going into nature to search for these mushrooms. The 2 quotes from the poem above show the opposite sides which I have mentioned. This also makes me wonder if Snyder had experimented with drugs such as mushrooms, or marijuana; as mentioned above.

Page (65) The Dazzle

“the dazzle the seduction the design

“All that moves, loves to sing” “the roots are at work. Unseen”

This poem is like the first poem I have listed within these notes, Snyder is telling of the beauty within natural things. He says “all that moves loves to sing”, I perceive this as I have in the first poem, all things in nature alive do work and create sounds and have processes that we may not think about from time to time; “the roots are at work. Unseen”; but all of these sounds and processes are precious and should be appreciated.

Page (103) Energy is Eternal Delight

Within this section I can really see Snyder’s roots and his appreciation for nature. At the beginning of this section Snyder is asked a question. “What do you fear the most”, he responds with “that the diversity and richness of the gene pool will be destroyed”. From this and the rest of the passage Snyder tells of his roots within Zen Buddhism in Japan. The meditation he practiced here I believe helped shape his appreciation for nature and the smallest things in life. Like Rachel Carson Snyder finds the beauty in the Earth and everything within it.

9.19.17 

Roy’s Gary SnyderTurtle Island Reading Notes

The Dead By The Side of The Road:  “How did a great Red-tailed Hawk, come to lie-all stiff and dry-, on the shoulder of, Interstate 5”? (Page 7).

  • “Cry” could have been added into the rhyme scheme.

  • Why don’t we have Land Bridges, a safe passages for animals on our interstate roads?

“Log trucks”

  • Burn fossil fuel, (animals), use the same trail as animals.

Steak: (Page 10).

  • Raises questions about the way we raise our animals, how steakhouses contribute.

  • Chamber of Commerce: Tourism, Advertising, (Small Businesses too).

  • Cow’s role in culture in Western Hemisphere vs Eastern.

Spel Against Demons: (Page 16).

  • Man’s attitude versus Nature compared to that of other animals.

  • Fighting & violence exists in the natural world, not like in the human world. “aimless executions in slaughtering are not the work of wolves in eagles”.

  • Humans must stop destroying nature, as some get intoxicated by destroying it’s beauty.

Why Log Truck Drivers Rise Earlier Than Students Of Zen: (63)

  • Absence, of other animals.

What Happened Here Before: (78)

  • Chronological-order of Earth’s development.

  • Repeating growth and destruction cycles, man accelerates this.

Toward Climax: (82)

  • Another poem depicting development, of the natural world as well as man’s.

  • Addresses man’s accelerated abuse of a fragile and grown natural world.

  • Slavery plays a large role in recent industrial and agricultural development.

  • Animals treated as resources, rather than beings. (Similar to III. Consumption. P. 96).

The Wilderness: (106).

  • Includes several other cultures who have their own roots of environmentalism and writing about the natural world. This passage seeks to present similarities rather than differences.

On “As For Poets” (114)

“Water is creation”.

9.14.17 Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Discussion Leader: Ethan Chalmers

  1. Why is the title of Carson’s book Silent Spring? How does this title affect the reader’s perception of the material-does the title invoke a more sympathetic reaction to the natural world (or not, if so, why?). Based on the title, what audience was she writing this book for?

I think the title is useful because it implies that nature does not have a voice to prevent man from polluting the natural world. The choice of the word, “silent”, also personifies the spring (which could also refer to the whole of nature, i.e. mountains, rivers, streams, etc.)

Narrative poem (Ballad) by John Keats, La Belle Dame sans Merci (1819)

Draw attention to the first chapter of the text that describes a quintessential American town- harmonious until the introduction of the “evil spell…” (pages 1-3)

  1. How does her account of the “history of life on earth” support her overall thesis of the importance of sustaining the environment? Does her tracing of the millennia it took to create the natural environment make the audience value environmental awareness?

Draw attention to Chapter 2-particularly pages 5-6 (second paragraph down on page 6)

  1. While Carson chooses to use scientific language in most of the first part of the book, do you think her choice of language helps or hinders the development of her thesis? Why or why not? Does her use of scientific data and facts help to support her point and to educate the reader?

Draw attention to passages on pages 26-27. The third paragraph on pages 27 gives a more practical, real world example of the impact of “endrin poisoning” on an American child living in Venezuela. Does this particularly example add a more human element to the scientific jargon (that reads, in part, like a chemistry text book).

  1. In chapter 4 of her book, Carson mentions that chemists’ manufacturing of substances “that nature never invented” have damaged the process of water purification. She cites water as one of the most “precious” natural resources-why? Assuming the motivation of the development of chemical purification processes was for man’s benefit, do you think that man has the right to damage nature for his own benefit? Or is man’s attempts at utilizing all of nature’s resources to their fullest extent damaging to mankind and nature-therefore chemical advancements should be monitored for environmental impact? Why or why not?

Draw attention to chapter 4-especially 40-on for a detailed account of the negative affect chemicals have on drinking water.

  1. In the chapter entitled “Needless Havoc”, Carson makes the following opening statement: “As man proceeds towards his announced goal of the conquest of nature, he has written a depressing record of destruction, directed not only against the earth he inhabits but against the life that shares it with him” (p. 85). Do you think Carson is justified in making this statement? Is man’s primary goal to conquer nature or merely to extract its resources for his benefit-i.e. is the intent of chemical developments malicious?-why or why not? Through vivid language, Carson describes the, seemingly useless, killing of wildlife and vegetation (p. 85-). Based on the information she has given in the previous chapters, is Carson justified in writing with an almost aggressive tone-is this tone intended to inspire the reader to conservationist action? Are you inspired by her writing-why or why not?

Discussion Leader: Devon C

  • The two British Scientists of the British Royal Navy Physiological Laboratory – exposed themselves to DDT on purpose to study the symptoms. Page 193
    • Should they have done this? Why could they not interview/test those who have been naturally exposed to DDT?
  • Echoes of this sort of thing are to be found, as we have seen, widely scattered throughout medical literature, sometimes involving the chlorinated …A heavy price to pay for the temporary destruction of a few insects, but a price that will continue to be exacted as long as we insist upon using chemicals that strike directly at the nervous system” (Carson 198)
    • DDT and other insecticides were used for good intentions (not always good).
    • Relation to our current dependence on fossil fuels – Temporary satisfaction though we end up with long term consequences
  • “The fires of life that flickered for a few days now extinguished” (Carson 206). –
    • How does this quote make the reader feel? Would they attribute it to human life? Does the imagery provide more of a connection?
  • Various chemicals “can raise the mutation frequency as much as radiation”
  • The effect of DDT did not limit itself to animals but to plants as well: 212
    • This page also includes information about genetic mutation in animals and bugs
    • What happens when the .01 percent survives and continues the life cycle?
    • What happens with mutated animals from the effects of DDT?
  • FDA vs Small Committee – Zero Tolerance vs 1 part per million – Page 224
  • “Surely it won’t really happen – Not in my lifetime, anyway” (Carson 252).
    • Argument still used today about the effects of pollution
    • Used to justify actions… I won’t be around to see what this causes so it’s not something I should worry about
    • Burying head in the sand mentality
  • One of the unforeseen side effects of spraying chemical insecticides such as DDT was that while some bugs were susceptible to these chemicals and would die from the effects while others were able to survive. In some cases (such as the Spider Mites mentioned on page 253) the bugs that died were the predators of even bigger pests and would often keep those populations in check. Although, once the predators were killed by the insecticides the prey no longer had to worry about their attackers and would start reproducing rapidly as a result.
    • Killing certain types of bugs could disrupt food chains causing other insects or even animals to starve or seek new foods
  • Page 265 – Ticks killed with poison – some survive – New poison – some survive – etc
    • Modern connection – Antibiotic resistant bacteria – much like trying to kill ticks, some bacteria is now resistant to certain antibiotic which means stronger antibiotics are need which means possibly stronger bacteria
    • Darwinism – Strong survive and create strong offspring creates strong species
  • Argument for DDT and pesticide spraying page 268 – Infant mortality rate dropped when DDT was sprayed in Egypt
    • Though the bugs then became resistant and infant mortality rate increased
  • Humans cannot gain the same resistance to these chemicals due to how long our lives are – bugs are able to do this since they can go through multiple generations in a small period of time
  • Solution: Insect sterilization – page 279-281
    • Still deals with the use of chemicals which could possibly be harmful

9.12.17 Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Thank you to Chelsea and Madison for raising numerous and important observations about Carson’s book:

  • Rise of monocrop farming methods and consequences
  • Why do we accept risks? The precautionary argument about human knowledge runs through Silent Spring and is one of her most notable rhetorical strategies.
  • The question about the use of organophosphate compound parathion and the questions of environmental equity and justice. The World Library of Toxicology offers a somewhat dated but useful example of the practice of manufacuring and exporting banned besticides for agricultural use in other countries. This is in part why the government funds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Here is an EPA recommendation from the early 1990s.
  • Attacks on Carson. Are attacks “unfathomable”? Rachel Carson first was a scientist; but she was attacked as being a woman, and these kinds of diminishments are unfortunately all too familiar. These kinds of attacks (whether unconscious or conscious) continue. It is also true that the larger critique here is of science and the integrity of science as a method of knowing. In some ways Carson is giving the scientific establishment a lesson in the method of science.
  • Regarding the fifty years later article: Carson never says the chemicals are all bad. (Though her argument is whelming—so many examples and citations from the literature and testimony.) In fact she says the opposite in Silent Spring. She is very clear that the problem is too often that the science is not (as those with economic interests in pesticide use argue) settled. The question for her, as she says again and again, is who gets to decide. Who is a qualified witness, she asks on page 86. Her call for public engagement and knowledge is quite striking, actually. See pages 13 and 278, for examples.
  • Page 12, the poetic question. She asks a lot of these, don’t you think? It would be interesting to point to a group of these excerpts, these “poetic” questions, and to get at what you mean by poetic.
  • Question of the qualified witness (86)

Discussion leader Chelsea

  • How has single-crop farming contributed to the pest problem in the United States and ultimately how has it created a supposed need for utilizing harmful chemicals found in insecticides? Quote: “Under primitive agricultural conditions the farmer had few insect problems. Those rose with the intensification of agriculture–the devotion to a single-crop. Such a system set the stage for explosive increases in specific insect populations. Single-crop farming does not take advantage of the principles by which nature works […]. Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has displayed a passion for simplifying it. Thus he undoes the built in checks and balances by which nature holds the species within bounds” (10).
  • One of the deadly insecticide poisons that is used is called parathion and Carson claims in her book that “[…] 7,000,000 pounds of parathion are now applied in fields and orchards of the United States–by hand sprayers, motorized blowers and dusters, and by airplane. The amount used on California farms alone could, according to one medical authority, ‘provide a lethal dose for 5 to 10 times the whole world’s population’” (30).  Why do you think our country is willing to risk the use of poisonous chemicals in food production and in our environment that could literally wipe out 10 times the world’s population? Quote on P. 86, second paragraph > Why do you think the people of power that Carson alludes to here openly deny the side-effects of chemical spraying when there are a myriad of facts to back up the claim that chemical warfare on plants and insects is in fact toxic to the world as well as the animals and people in it?
  • Why are bugs important for the well-being of our planet? Quote: “Without insect pollination, most of the soil-holding and soil-enriching plants of uncultivated areas would die out, with far-reaching consequences to ecology of the whole region. Many herbs, shrubs, and trees of forests and range depend on native insects for their reproduction; without these plants many wild animals and range stock would find little food” (73).

Talk about some of Carson’s examples that show how chemical spraying has affected plants and wildlife. Examples: P. 76 second paragraph, P. 77 first paragraph, P. 90 second paragraph & last paragraph, P. 159 last paragraph

Quotes:

  • “A number of deaths among cattle among cattle have been traced to sprayed weeds, according to some agricultural specialists. The danger lies in the increase in nitrates, for the peculiar physiology of the ruminant at once poses a critical problem. […] When the animal feeds on vegetation containing an abnormally high level of nitrates, the microorganisms in the rumen act on the nitrates to change them into highly toxic nitrates. Thereafter a fatal chain of events ensues: the nitrates act on the blood pigment to form a chocolate-brown substance in which the oxygen is so firmly held that it cannot take part in respiration, hence oxygen is not transferred from the lungs to the tissues. Death occurs within a few hours from anoxia, or lack of oxygen. […] The same danger exists for wild animals belonging to the group of ruminants, such as deer, antelope, sheep, and goats” (77).
  • What are some natural alternatives to using chemical plant and insect killers that Carson cites in the first 11 chapters? Examples: P. 75 second paragraph, P. 82-83 Last paragraph on p. 82-end of chapter on 83, P. 115-116 Last full paragraph on 115-1st paragraph on 116, P. 117 “the conservation of variety”
  • Besides getting rid of hydrocarbons completely, what other ways are there to combat this devastation to our wildlife? P. 183-184
  • Quote on P. 89, last paragraph, first sentence & quote on P. 174 third paragraph> Do you think the government should be required to inform the general public of the deadly chemicals that are in products bought in the grocery store, and in the natural world around us? Why or why not?
  • In the second chapter of Silent Spring, Carson uses this quote from Albert Schweitzer, “Man can hardly recognize the devils of his own creation” (6). Here he is referring to all of the chemicals that now exist in the natural world solely because of humans. Do you find this quote to be true or do you think humans knew what they were doing when creating these harmful hydrocarbons?
  • Look at Frank Graham article and talk about the reception Silent Spring initially had. How was Carson thought of after the release of her book? Why do you think some people had and continue to have this reaction to her work?

Quotes from the article:

  • “An official of the Nutrition Foundation contended that “publicists and the author’s adherents among the food faddists, health quacks and special interest groups are promoting her book as if it were scientifically irreproachable and written by a scientist.” Wrote the director of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, ‘In any large scale pest program, we are immediately confronted with the objection of a vociferous, misinformed group of nature-balancing, organic gardening, bird-loving, unreasonable citizenry that has not been convinced of the important place of agricultural chemicals in our economy.” Other literature accused Carson variously of being ‘a priestess of nature,’ ‘a bird-lover,’ and a member of some mystical cult. An official with the Federal Pest Control Review Board drew laughter from his audience when he remarked, ‘I thought she was a spinster. What’s she so worried about genetics for?’”
  • “An ironic aspect of the assault on Carson’s legacy in recent years has been that it is no longer focused on science. Critics have replaced the old chestnuts attacking her professional competence with a new tack — political correctness. The more hysterical of her opponents, including notable climate change deniers such as the late novelist Michael Crichton, have even branded Carson “a mass murderess,” responsible for the deaths of millions of African children from malaria because her work led to a ban on DDT.”
  • “Politics trumps science”

Discussion Leader Madison

Online exhibition:

  • Impressive how much was done and how much the ball got rolling in response to her book. “Prior to 1962, the government regulated pesticides mainly to ensure that chemical preparations were effective and not fraudulent. The Insecticide Act of 1910 and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act of 1947 (FIFRA) served these goals. A 1952 amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act established a procedure for setting tolerances for chemical residues in food, feed, and fiber, but not for regulation of chemical use itself. Now Congress amended FIFRA to include attention to safety considerations in pesticide labeling.”
  • The personal attacks page was so sad to read, and unfathomable that people could say and think such horrible things about someone that is trying to point out what is wrong and start to make the earth right.
  • The legacy page was interesting because it brings into modern context and shows how widely respected it is. It still provokes questions, “In 2007, questions were raised about bisphenol A (BPA), a compound released by certain plastics into food and by many treated cans into canned food. Of particular concern was BPA released by plastic baby bottles. Canada, the European Union, Japan and the United States immediately acted to restrict exposure to BPA, especially in baby bottles.”

Fifty Years Later Article

  • The parallel mention between Carson’s pesticides acknowledgments with today’s climate change/global warming helps to really understand how naive people were then, and how ill-informed the world is.
  • Shocked that entomologists were in favor of insecticides!! && “Politics trump science”
  • I don’t know how I feel about the argument of her not presenting both sides of the chemicals. I think on some level they are all bad, but perhaps an explanation behind why they are thought to be necessary may help broaden the understanding of them.

Silent Spring page references and discussion questions:

  • (12) Discuss the two questions in the second paragraph. I myself do not have answers, but it would be interesting to hear others thoughts. “Have we fallen a mesmerized state that makes us accept as inevitable that which is inferior or detrimental, as though having lost the will or vision to demand that which is good?” This is such a poetic question.
  • Chapter 3- Confusing to try and understand the scientific talk about the pesticides, but eye opening to hear the side effects and damage each can cause.
  • (32) The reference to the Greek mythology Medea. Love this connection and so easy to understand!!
  • (38,40-41) I knew water pollution was a problem and you always see the sad commercials of turtles getting stuck in soda can holders, but Carson points out how easy pollutions is getting leaked into out waters. “radioactive wastes from reactors, laboratories, and hospitals” (38). That brings a connection into everyone’s own life and community. The businesses need to put their waste somewhere and it’s horrifying to think that the ground, our land, and thus our water is where it is headed. “Some are deliberately applied to bodies of water to destroy plants, insect larvae, or undesired fishes” (40). What makes these fish undesired??? Because they don’t taste good??? This passage that is talking about the spraying of chemicals to contain an area of water and make it run/stabilize in a manmade way, was shocking. The example used about Pennsylvania drinking water was horrifying. To think that man is producing chemicals that purposely kill off organisms because they are in the way of what man is trying to get at or achieve is so sickening. Carson makes a point to note that this type of pollution is “unseen and invisible, making its presence known when hundreds or thousands of fish die, but more often never detected at all.” It’s so scary to think about all this happening secretly right under our noses.
  • (86) “What view are we to accept?” This is in reference to wildlife loss. Carson her does a good job giving background on both sides. She is clearly in favor and more passionate about not “spraying,” but does reason a bit with why people have done it and continue to do it. She calls into questions the credibility of the “witness.” What do we think of that? Why are we letting them make poorly informed calls? The mention a little later on that re-establishment is sometimes possible, but because people continue to respray it is unlikely…i.e. the Japanese Beetle. Later on, on page 93 she mentions a chemical that makes the beetles come out of the ground and then birds eat them. How did they not know that this would be harmful to the birds? Did people not care? Why are the lives of the birds of so little importance? (99) “Incidents like the eastern Illinois spraying raise the question that is not only scientific but moral. The question if whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.” Bring up in class and talk about science vs. morals.
  • (107-109) The death of all the robins in the Midwest and how it affected their fertility is horrifying. The cycle of targeting an insect or invasive organism that then seeps into the earthworms and then eaten by the birds, it is just a long horrible chain of destruction. Discuss the closing passage on 127. The questions she asked and the explanation she gave doesn’t suffice for me. I don’t understand how and humans could morally make the choices these people did.
  • (132) If they noticed the decline of salmon the year after the first spray, why did they continue to repeat it? I also do not understand the idea of reducing the potency of the DDT, it is still being sprayed and still harmful. I also don’t understand why they would spend all the money on spraying and then again spend money on transplanting the creatures that the spray has killed, when the spray really isn’t even doing its job.
  • (155) “An amazing rain of death.” (159) Why did Mrs. Waller not have a say in the spraying of her land. She was willing to get rid of the moths on her own in a safer way, but they still sprayed?! AND they still let her sell the milk? I know things have tighten up a little bit regarding FDA standards, but still. How do others feel? Why do they not respect the words of those directly affected or those who know a thing or two about wild life, like Dr. Maurice F. Baker who is skilled with this information (163). Is it because he doesn’t give the government and the organizations spraying the information they want to hear?
  • Discuss the “Beyond the Dreams of the Borgias” chapter in class. Focus on the questions asked on 181, “But doesn’t the government protect us from such things?…Only to a limited extent.” How do other feel about the questions she raises in this chapter about what we eat and how little we know or are shown about what is on our foods? The shocking comparison on 174 about medicine we have to sign wavers for vs. the food we buy in the produce section, really brought things to light. Mention the concept of buy organic and if that is regulated enough to be the safest option. “What is the solution” 183?

9.12.17

Thank you to Chelsea and Madison for raising numerous and important observations about Carson’s book:

Chelsea

  • Rise of monocrop farming methods and consequences
  • Why do we accept risks? The precautionary argument about human knowledge runs through Silent Spring and is one of her most notable rhetorical strategies.
  • The question about the use of organophosphate compound parathion and the questions of environmental equity and justice. The World Library of Toxicology offers a somewhat dated but useful example of the practice of manufacuring and exporting banned besticides for agricultural use in other countries. This is in part why the government funds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Here is an EPA recommendation from the early 1990s.

 Madison

  • Attacks on Carson. Are attacks “unfathomable”? Rachel Carson first was a scientist; but she was attacked as being a woman, and these kinds of diminishments are unfortunately all too familiar. These kinds of attacks (whether unconscious or conscious) continue. It is also true that the larger critique here is of science and the integrity of science as a method of knowing. In some ways Carson is giving the scientific establishment a lesson in the method of science.
  • Regarding the fifty years later article: Carson never says the chemicals are all bad. (Though her argument is whelming—so many examples and citations from the literature and testimony.) In fact she says the opposite in Silent Spring. She is very clear that the problem is too often that the science is not (as those with economic interests in pesticide use argue) settled. The question for her, as she says again and again, is who gets to decide. Who is a qualified witness, she asks on page 86. Her call for public engagement and knowledge is quite striking, actually. See pages 13 and 278, for examples.
  • Page 12, the poetic question. She asks a lot of these, don’t you think? It would be interesting to point to a group of these excerpts, these “poetic” questions, and to get at what you mean by poetic.
  • Question of the qualified witness (86)

Discussion leader Chelsea

  • How has single-crop farming contributed to the pest problem in the United States and ultimately how has it created a supposed need for utilizing harmful chemicals found in insecticides? Quote: “Under primitive agricultural conditions the farmer had few insect problems. Those rose with the intensification of agriculture–the devotion to a single-crop. Such a system set the stage for explosive increases in specific insect populations. Single-crop farming does not take advantage of the principles by which nature works […]. Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has displayed a passion for simplifying it. Thus he undoes the built in checks and balances by which nature holds the species within bounds” (10).
  • One of the deadly insecticide poisons that is used is called parathion and Carson claims in her book that “[…] 7,000,000 pounds of parathion are now applied in fields and orchards of the United States–by hand sprayers, motorized blowers and dusters, and by airplane. The amount used on California farms alone could, according to one medical authority, ‘provide a lethal dose for 5 to 10 times the whole world’s population’” (30).  Why do you think our country is willing to risk the use of poisonous chemicals in food production and in our environment that could literally wipe out 10 times the world’s population? Quote on P. 86, second paragraph > Why do you think the people of power that Carson alludes to here openly deny the side-effects of chemical spraying when there are a myriad of facts to back up the claim that chemical warfare on plants and insects is in fact toxic to the world as well as the animals and people in it?
  • Why are bugs important for the well-being of our planet? Quote: “Without insect pollination, most of the soil-holding and soil-enriching plants of uncultivated areas would die out, with far-reaching consequences to ecology of the whole region. Many herbs, shrubs, and trees of forests and range depend on native insects for their reproduction; without these plants many wild animals and range stock would find little food” (73).

Talk about some of Carson’s examples that show how chemical spraying has affected plants and wildlife. Examples: P. 76 second paragraph, P. 77 first paragraph, P. 90 second paragraph & last paragraph, P. 159 last paragraph

Quotes:

  • “A number of deaths among cattle among cattle have been traced to sprayed weeds, according to some agricultural specialists. The danger lies in the increase in nitrates, for the peculiar physiology of the ruminant at once poses a critical problem. […] When the animal feeds on vegetation containing an abnormally high level of nitrates, the microorganisms in the rumen act on the nitrates to change them into highly toxic nitrates. Thereafter a fatal chain of events ensues: the nitrates act on the blood pigment to form a chocolate-brown substance in which the oxygen is so firmly held that it cannot take part in respiration, hence oxygen is not transferred from the lungs to the tissues. Death occurs within a few hours from anoxia, or lack of oxygen. […] The same danger exists for wild animals belonging to the group of ruminants, such as deer, antelope, sheep, and goats” (77).
  • What are some natural alternatives to using chemical plant and insect killers that Carson cites in the first 11 chapters? Examples: P. 75 second paragraph, P. 82-83 Last paragraph on p. 82-end of chapter on 83, P. 115-116 Last full paragraph on 115-1st paragraph on 116, P. 117 “the conservation of variety”
  • Besides getting rid of hydrocarbons completely, what other ways are there to combat this devastation to our wildlife? P. 183-184
  • Quote on P. 89, last paragraph, first sentence & quote on P. 174 third paragraph> Do you think the government should be required to inform the general public of the deadly chemicals that are in products bought in the grocery store, and in the natural world around us? Why or why not?
  • In the second chapter of Silent Spring, Carson uses this quote from Albert Schweitzer, “Man can hardly recognize the devils of his own creation” (6). Here he is referring to all of the chemicals that now exist in the natural world solely because of humans. Do you find this quote to be true or do you think humans knew what they were doing when creating these harmful hydrocarbons?
  • Look at Frank Graham article and talk about the reception Silent Spring initially had. How was Carson thought of after the release of her book? Why do you think some people had and continue to have this reaction to her work?

Quotes from the article:

  • “An official of the Nutrition Foundation contended that “publicists and the author’s adherents among the food faddists, health quacks and special interest groups are promoting her book as if it were scientifically irreproachable and written by a scientist.” Wrote the director of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, ‘In any large scale pest program, we are immediately confronted with the objection of a vociferous, misinformed group of nature-balancing, organic gardening, bird-loving, unreasonable citizenry that has not been convinced of the important place of agricultural chemicals in our economy.” Other literature accused Carson variously of being ‘a priestess of nature,’ ‘a bird-lover,’ and a member of some mystical cult. An official with the Federal Pest Control Review Board drew laughter from his audience when he remarked, ‘I thought she was a spinster. What’s she so worried about genetics for?’”
  • “An ironic aspect of the assault on Carson’s legacy in recent years has been that it is no longer focused on science. Critics have replaced the old chestnuts attacking her professional competence with a new tack — political correctness. The more hysterical of her opponents, including notable climate change deniers such as the late novelist Michael Crichton, have even branded Carson “a mass murderess,” responsible for the deaths of millions of African children from malaria because her work led to a ban on DDT.”
  • “Politics trumps science”

Discussion Leader Madison

Online exhibition:

  • Impressive how much was done and how much the ball got rolling in response to her book. “Prior to 1962, the government regulated pesticides mainly to ensure that chemical preparations were effective and not fraudulent. The Insecticide Act of 1910 and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act of 1947 (FIFRA) served these goals. A 1952 amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act established a procedure for setting tolerances for chemical residues in food, feed, and fiber, but not for regulation of chemical use itself. Now Congress amended FIFRA to include attention to safety considerations in pesticide labeling.”
  • The personal attacks page was so sad to read, and unfathomable that people could say and think such horrible things about someone that is trying to point out what is wrong and start to make the earth right.
  • The legacy page was interesting because it brings into modern context and shows how widely respected it is. It still provokes questions, “In 2007, questions were raised about bisphenol A (BPA), a compound released by certain plastics into food and by many treated cans into canned food. Of particular concern was BPA released by plastic baby bottles. Canada, the European Union, Japan and the United States immediately acted to restrict exposure to BPA, especially in baby bottles.”

Fifty Years Later Article

  • The parallel mention between Carson’s pesticides acknowledgments with today’s climate change/global warming helps to really understand how naive people were then, and how ill-informed the world is.
  • Shocked that entomologists were in favor of insecticides!! && “Politics trump science”
  • I don’t know how I feel about the argument of her not presenting both sides of the chemicals. I think on some level they are all bad, but perhaps an explanation behind why they are thought to be necessary may help broaden the understanding of them.

Silent Spring page references and discussion questions:

  • (12) Discuss the two questions in the second paragraph. I myself do not have answers, but it would be interesting to hear others thoughts. “Have we fallen a mesmerized state that makes us accept as inevitable that which is inferior or detrimental, as though having lost the will or vision to demand that which is good?” This is such a poetic question.
  • Chapter 3- Confusing to try and understand the scientific talk about the pesticides, but eye opening to hear the side effects and damage each can cause.
  • (32) The reference to the Greek mythology Medea. Love this connection and so easy to understand!!
  • (38,40-41) I knew water pollution was a problem and you always see the sad commercials of turtles getting stuck in soda can holders, but Carson points out how easy pollutions is getting leaked into out waters. “radioactive wastes from reactors, laboratories, and hospitals” (38). That brings a connection into everyone’s own life and community. The businesses need to put their waste somewhere and it’s horrifying to think that the ground, our land, and thus our water is where it is headed. “Some are deliberately applied to bodies of water to destroy plants, insect larvae, or undesired fishes” (40). What makes these fish undesired??? Because they don’t taste good??? This passage that is talking about the spraying of chemicals to contain an area of water and make it run/stabilize in a manmade way, was shocking. The example used about Pennsylvania drinking water was horrifying. To think that man is producing chemicals that purposely kill off organisms because they are in the way of what man is trying to get at or achieve is so sickening. Carson makes a point to note that this type of pollution is “unseen and invisible, making its presence known when hundreds or thousands of fish die, but more often never detected at all.” It’s so scary to think about all this happening secretly right under our noses.
  • (86) “What view are we to accept?” This is in reference to wildlife loss. Carson her does a good job giving background on both sides. She is clearly in favor and more passionate about not “spraying,” but does reason a bit with why people have done it and continue to do it. She calls into questions the credibility of the “witness.” What do we think of that? Why are we letting them make poorly informed calls? The mention a little later on that re-establishment is sometimes possible, but because people continue to respray it is unlikely…i.e. the Japanese Beetle. Later on, on page 93 she mentions a chemical that makes the beetles come out of the ground and then birds eat them. How did they not know that this would be harmful to the birds? Did people not care? Why are the lives of the birds of so little importance? (99) “Incidents like the eastern Illinois spraying raise the question that is not only scientific but moral. The question if whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.” Bring up in class and talk about science vs. morals.
  • (107-109) The death of all the robins in the Midwest and how it affected their fertility is horrifying. The cycle of targeting an insect or invasive organism that then seeps into the earthworms and then eaten by the birds, it is just a long horrible chain of destruction. Discuss the closing passage on 127. The questions she asked and the explanation she gave doesn’t suffice for me. I don’t understand how and humans could morally make the choices these people did.
  • (132) If they noticed the decline of salmon the year after the first spray, why did they continue to repeat it? I also do not understand the idea of reducing the potency of the DDT, it is still being sprayed and still harmful. I also don’t understand why they would spend all the money on spraying and then again spend money on transplanting the creatures that the spray has killed, when the spray really isn’t even doing its job.
  • (155) “An amazing rain of death.” (159) Why did Mrs. Waller not have a say in the spraying of her land. She was willing to get rid of the moths on her own in a safer way, but they still sprayed?! AND they still let her sell the milk? I know things have tighten up a little bit regarding FDA standards, but still. How do others feel? Why do they not respect the words of those directly affected or those who know a thing or two about wild life, like Dr. Maurice F. Baker who is skilled with this information (163). Is it because he doesn’t give the government and the organizations spraying the information they want to hear?
  • Discuss the “Beyond the Dreams of the Borgias” chapter in class. Focus on the questions asked on 181, “But doesn’t the government protect us from such things?…Only to a limited extent.” How do other feel about the questions she raises in this chapter about what we eat and how little we know or are shown about what is on our foods? The shocking comparison on 174 about medicine we have to sign wavers for vs. the food we buy in the produce section, really brought things to light. Mention the concept of buy organic and if that is regulated enough to be the safest option. “What is the solution” 183?

9.7.17

Wool Gathering

Ramanchandra Guha, Environmentalism: A Global History

Workshop on Domain of One’s Own

Identity: Take ownership of your presence on the web. Express your ideas. Integrate your learning and interests.

Fluency: Use open-source platforms. Build projects using digital tools. Create portfolios, exhibits, galleries, blogs, or wikis.

Citizenship: Engage with the community. Construct the web. Navigate, and critically question digital technologies.

Writing Workshop

Know what you are doing and do it well

Looking Ahead to Week Three: The Schedule page: Reading Carson, Media Archive, Discussion Partners

 

literature and environmentalism at keene state college

Subscribe to this Blog

Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: