Preface

The wildcat is an overseer of the mountain: taking in nature for he is part of it. As a student, I am constantly taking knowledge in all day, sometimes forgetting about the beauty, awe, and power of the uncivilized wild. Exploration is food for the soul of the untamed, and I, myself, feel this way. The collections of pieces that are foretold capture the essence of the forgotten. Most of us live our lives mostly consumed by what man has made for us and see the natural world as something like an escape. Ironic as it is, this is how we are living in the 21st century and it is neither good nor bad; it just is. What is horrendous, however, is how we have forgotten how to treat the Earth and its inhabitants with respect. We can learn a lot from Native people and their wisdom about our planet through works such as Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms. The utter negligence we have developed in American society and the non-seriousness we have had about it since the industrial revolution is pitiful. Granted, there has been reforms and acts the past few decades to establish a foundation for change, but our current administration does not even believe climate change is real (or in other words, may not align in their interests, especially with lobbying groups correlated with monetizing profits through natural resources). How I see it, the natural world is balancing smack in the middle of a very narrow teeter-totter, very easily able to slide one way or the other. Sooner than later, if we do not make a change as a whole, the whole population will see darker days. How ignorant to think that we can keep abusing Mother Nature and believe at some point, she won’t retaliate. Re-thinking our approach to products that harm the environment is our first step.

CHANGE

It starts within every single one of us. But in order to change, we must be able to first identify who we are, where we are, and what we are doing. Life is magical and a blessing, truly. Appreciation for everything living starts with an appreciation for ourselves, for we are each a part of the whole. Yet, we should not JUST appreciate ourselves, for this is dangerous to the world, and ourselves. See yourself as equal to everything. Please be aware, be active, and be in tune the melody of the natural. Pay attention, such as the wildcat with its perked ears, listening on top of a mountain.

Equality For All, Discrimination For None

T.C. Boyles Tortilla curtain is an important example of a piece of literature that breaks through social barriers and is written from a perspective where class and race is broken down and voided in the regard of how they are morally upheld; through an objective view. Their status is not based on a typical, political type of lens, but instead, we finally get a story where all of that is brought up often, yet we are brought to realize all of these constructs are obsolete, and who a human being is at their core is what really matters. What this book conveys is a sense of character and identity at a level where class and societal bounds are absolutely a factor, but is not the point of the message. What I think T.C. Boyle is really trying to do here is show that it does actually matter a lot where you come from and what your circumstances are as far as how people perceive you.

One of the protagonists Delaney has himself fooled, thinking he is a liberal humanist but seems to be racist towards Mexicans, and not quite a great humanist either. I mean he hits a man with his car and is instinctually concerned about his car. Many people will put on a show and tell others about what they think their ideal beliefs SHOULD be, regardless if they actually think in the manner that they express themselves to others. This character is a great social commentary on people who do not practice what they preach, but instead, try to look like the good guy. He criticizes Mexicans and thinks that they are thieves and generally bad people who are majorly linked to criminal activity. When his car gets stolen, he can only picture Candido driving away with it and this angers him. Again when he sees the trash and vandalism in the wilderness, he pictures Mexicans doing it. This is a very toxic and contradictory thinking pattern compared to how he portrays himself to the world. It is even more so powerful due to the fact that Candido and America are presumably nice people who just wish to have a better life and are actually just trying to live their life to its fullest, without doing anything illegal! There are bad people of every race and background. To assume groups of people are morally inferior to another, even subconsciously, is a huge problem that is unacceptable.

This book is a well thought out juxtaposition that shows the harsh realities of certain ethnic groups and the struggles, assumptions, and atrocities pertaining to each. Although most of the events in this book are objectively not settling, it is settling to see what T.C. Boyle did as an author, trying to make the world a little better. How he did this was through attributing the concept of understanding, and empathy. The part of the book that really hit me and made me think of that was the part where America has been working all day, struggling to clean the statues with no gloves and tolerating the burns through her hands, scared to ask her boss for gloves and the repercussions that may follow. When she then sits in the pink bathroom mesmerized and thinking about having one, it really put a lot of things in perspective for me even in my own life. It is dumbfounding that at this very second, so many people are struggling with life, dreaming about their “bathroom”.

 

Tortilla Curtain sets a great precedent for the future in the regards of unity. The world will not be able to push much further without recognizing and empathizing one another for who we truly are: Human beings with a head on our shoulders and dreams in our heart. Mostly everyone wants to just have a good life, but there are many obstacles in the way (Whether they are the more mundane and less threatening, or very real and tragic struggles that are quite horrifying, such as Candido and America’s situation). These obstacles are naturally more challenging for minorities and for white people we must understand that the world is indeed a more challenging and less forgiving place for people of darker complexion. God knows why and how this happened, but realizing this, and taking about solutions in order for true equality is not only fair, but also mandatory.

Equality should be the future, for we are all human and would like to succeed in this world. We are all equal as human beings at our core, and should only be judged on the content of our character. My advice is don’t be a somewhat shallow and hypocritical “world saver” like Delaney, but instead try to practice empathy and see yourself in other human beings, as well as the environment too, of course. We are all here to build a better life. This book made me feel more human in the sense that everyone is just a person, regardless of his or her skin color, upbringing, culture, and social interactions. No one person is better than another except solely based on their character and mindset. White, Mexican, or ANY culture for that matter deserves to be treated with dignity and decency, especially if they wish to do no harm.

Essential Questions Of The Wild And Our Own Nature

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

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

What’s going on?

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

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

What am I doing here?

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

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

 

 

 

Monkey Wrench Gang Review/Recommendation

There are many great reasons why one should Edward Abbey’s environmental fiction piece “Monkey Wrench Gang”. For starters, it provokes the reader to think critically and analytically about the real life acts people are involved in that border this thin line of activism and terrorism. Deeper than that, it reveals the characteristics of human nature, exploring the reasoning behind why people do what they do, think, and believe. In response to an imminent threat or enemy, people can sometimes lose their selves or the reasons why they may do what they do or have done. Life is truly all about a matter of perspective, and Monkey Wrench Gang has quite a few of those. All though as humans we are generally on the same page of direction in terms of where we need and want the world to go. But it is crucial to remember even though one may have good intentions, doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to wrong doings.

They is an array of characters in this book that seem to intentionally touch upon a spectrum of different personality types in one group. Bonnie is a young and nervous-ish girl who has a secret relationship with her superior, Doc Sarvis. Doc is kind of odd but undoubtedly smart. After that, there is George Hayduke. This guy is interesting: very expressive and aggressive. He was in the Vietnam War with the Green Beret group, which is very intense and prestigious, which explains his demeanor more thoroughly. We then meet “Seldom Seen” Smith, who works on the Colorado River damn and loves it, so decides to participate in the group. He owns his own river touring business so he isn’t around too often and seems to prefer keeping to himself.

Within all their different personality traits, we basically see what it is like to try and compromise and efficiently do things in vast world of different characters. In essence, I feel like a big idea in the book was to implement this struggle on a smaller scale and how different groups may perceive a vast amount of different struggles. It is almost like a book of devils advocate to see which side one may tend to sympathize toward. An example of this specifically is when Doc Sarvis and Bonnie burn down the billboard because it was “blocking the scenery” of the natural environment. What is going to far in demonstration of protest? Where is the line drawn for doing something you may think is right?

This book is something I would strongly recommend to someone who is looking to commit eco terrorism or eco activism, for this seemed like it would be a great guideline for such acts! “When the situation is hopeless, there’s nothing to worry about.” (Abbey 294). This quote resonated with me for it really encapsulated the book, I felt like. The point of the book is they felt as if the environment was being wronged and simply it was looking so hopeless, that they were not worried too about doing all of these controversial things. But even more so than that, this book was quite funny and had quite a lot of social commentary (particularly so in regards to the environment). Anybody who has a liking for writing with quirky comedy or social commentary would absolutely enjoy this book.

All in all, I found this book to be well written with a lot of different aspects many readers would possibly enjoy. From the depth and versatility in the characters, to having a solidified purpose in the book of real life happenings, it was extraordinarily interesting reading this, for it was unlike anything I have ever read. Edward Abbey’s “Monkey Wrench Gang” would get a 3.5/5 from me, for it was not exactly my favorite reading (especially compared to Silent Spring or Turtle Island). However, if you like fictional novels that can also help you formulate a plan for eco-activism, look no further! “Monkey Wrench Gang” is for you!

Family, Environmentalism, and Hardship.

In the book Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams, there were themes that I not only enjoyed reading, but also felt resonated with me sincerely. For instance, a great theme I thought was implemented could be summed up in a quote from Williams that states “We haven’t figured out that time for ourselves is ultimately time for our families. You can’t be constantly giving without depleting from the source.” (Williams 117) I found this to be an extraordinary quote that encapsulates many aspects of this book. Not only that, but it and reminded me of past experiences that I have lived through that are similar to Terry’s.

It is the hardest thing in the world to see someone you love unconditionally be in pain and have to fight for his or her lives. The terror in their eyes when they’ve heard they have cancer, the extraneous procedures every other day, the fear and anxiety of what will happen. Just having cancer can eat away at you mentally just like it is doing physically. My grandmother died about 5 years ago, yet she fought an egregious battle. When we all found out she had breast cancer, everyone in the family was by her side and gave her strength.

Her life source was being depleted from the cancer so we tried to lift her up both physically and in spirit. She started getting better and the cancer went into remission! My grandmother from the other side of the family suggested we vacation to Florida for 2 weeks in order to rejuvenate our minds after all the hardship, yet the doctors advised my grandmother stay in the hospital. By the time we got back from vacation, the cancer spread to her liver and she was in a coma. She died about 3 days later.

Family is an important thing and people who love you and show support really do add to ones “energy source”, in my opinion. For me, time for myself is time for my family, for I feel like I am my most true self around them. My vovó (Portuguese for grandmother) was an immense giver and was the most selfless person I had ever met. The whole concept of you cannot give without depleting from the source made sense, for she gave and gave and barely received much in return. She took care of my mentally challenged aunt day in and day out, cleaned rich peoples houses for 5 hours every day, and had to deal with my grandfather who would always be criticizing her for everything, on top of that all, she was an immigrant that couldn’t speak English well, so people didn’t treat her nicely. Sometimes when somebody gives too much without receiving, it can take a real toll on both body and mind. I can only imagine how tiring that was.

Another way I looked at this quote was in a sense of environmental distress. As much as we see the world in terms of societal progress for economic gain, we often leave out what the cost is of this action. Take a look outside and all around Keene for example, the structures, roads, everything one sees was built at the cost of depleting from the lands original sources. Progress is a natural action to strive for, but there are controversial factors in regards to the process in which how this exactly happens. An extreme example is the depletion of trees in Brazil’s Amazon Rain Forest. Brazil is somewhat of a poor country, so in order to excel their profits they have chosen to monotize on paper products. While this will make them quite a lot of money and will help some people live better lives, the ecosystems within those habitats will be destroyed to smithereens. Animals, plants, and even people will be forced to face their demise with no say or even considerance to the environment and its inhabitants.

Since the industrial revolution up until a few decades ago, much of society has been focused so much on changing the world to their pleasing, we forget that we are not God and there are severe repercussions that will follow. It is extremely important to remember our connection with the natural world and that we have absolutely no right to alter or tarnish anything we have not created ourselves. Terry Tempest Williams telling us about what happened regarding the pumping of the Great Salt Lakes and how some people said they did not try to act with resistance because it was happening and just how it was are pretty ignorant patterns of thinking in regards to the natural world being harmed. It is our social and moral responsibility, in my opinion, to speak up against acts such as these, and if everyone came together to do such, an impact would be made and change would naturally follow. Although we have come quite a long way in this regard of being “green”, we still have a long way to go as humans as far as respecting this Earth unconditionally.

 

 

In essence this book was both a memoir, a real dramatic situation with members in her family battling breast cancer, as well as a great social commentary on the environmental dismantling of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Ultimately, this book resonated with me greatly on a personal and intellectual level. Terry’s stories are unique, important, and iconic. For me, this book has made me more environmentally aware, for I had no prior knowledge to this situation of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. I would recommend this book to just about anyone due to its versatile story telling, truth, activism, and overall depth.

Solar Storms and Ramifications of the James Bay Situation

“It was a darkness of words and ideas, wants and desires. This darkness came in the guise of laws made up by lawless men and people who were, as they explained, and believed, only doing their jobs. Part of the fast-moving darkness was the desire of those who wanted to conquer the land, the water, the rivers that kept running away from them”… “They wanted to control water, the rise and fall of it, the direction of its ancient life. They wanted power.” (Hogan 268).

The language used by Linda Hogan throughout the novel is powerful, descriptive, and poetic (much like that of traditional Native Americans). This is a quote that I felt encapsulated the theme of the book itself. The exploiters free will to harvest and destroy anything they wish to. While many people need jobs and like the benefits of hydroelectricity, there is an immense repercussion to address in order to understand the big picture. A quote on that same page effectively voices these concerns through Linda Hogans detailed words: “I knew what loneliness was. It was larger than the way I missed Tommy. It was the enormous river now gone. It was drowned willows and alders. It was the three dead lynx caught in a reservoir, ten thousand drowned caribou. It was the river traveling out of its raging, swift power and life into such humdrum places as kitchens with stoves and refrigerators. The rivers became lamps. False gods said “Let there be light,” and there was alchemy in reverse. What was precious became base metal, defiled and dangerous elements. And yet we would use it. We would believe we needed it. We would turn buttons on and off, flip switches.” (Hogan 268).

The power behind these descriptions is the realness it evokes. The natural environment is despicably mistreated in the sake of a new human “accomplishment”. The history behind this book runs deep and is quite a controversial topic. Although many had no idea of the extremity of harm the James Bay Hydroelectric Project, there was a lot of scrutiny following the sights of complete habitats being decimated and poisoned with mercury. Perhaps the most severe overall impact was the diverting the flow of water from four major rivers into a large body of water, ultimately changing the dynamics of the land.

Described by research I conducted, I found it to be true that “The James Bay area’s water flow is most affected by the hydroelectric project from January to April because rivers have their lowest runoff rates in the winter months when freezing occurs. Additionally, runoff rates in the damming system can be altered to meet power needs, which are highest in the winter and lowest in the summer, thereby more completely reversing the natural water flow cycle. As evidenced by the 500% increase in its winter runoff, the La Grande River is the pillar of the James Bay project’s hydroelectric capacity. Because of the change in the runoff rates of James Bay, massively increasing in the winter months, and increasing considerably in the summer as well, there has been more extreme fluctuation in the water levels. This has killed many trees along the shoreline, which are not equipped with deep enough root systems and tolerance of prolonged exposure to seawater to withstand these fluctuations. As well, the increased riverbank erosion downstream of the dams has washed the habitats down the river.”

What a devastating and negative reaction to something that was intended to benefit humankind. Many think they can play God and reaarange the natural world so as they please. It is unbelievably ignorant to believe that one can do this and not face negative ramifications, or even worse, be aware of them and not even care at all. It is a peculiar thing, to see lands where predominately Native People reside be tarnished, even after almost all of their land has been taken from them and they have been subjugated to mass impoverishment and are almost made to be secluded from mainstream society. Ever since the “Indian Removal Act” in 1830, Native people have been forced to relocate over and over until there is almost a miniscule amount left for them. A land that that their people especially, feel so connected to and thankful for, destroyed at the hands of the exploiter yet again.

Even today we still see this happening with the situation of digging oil access lines that would harm the environment at “Standing Rock”. The familiarity of this repeating story is a somber feeling to say least. There has been many wake up calls that this is not the right thing to do and we need to start looking at progress, especially energy, in alternative ways that will not cause as much harm to the innocent Earth. It is unfair to not only diminish habitats, but the peoples lives within them too. We have the means and resources to start being more environmentally conscious, yet progress is always slow, and only time will tell how our generation and future generations ahead will treat this Earth, and hopefully it is with more respect and dignity. Governments can learn a thing or 2 about Native American teachings, perhaps America would be more “green” if we were to listen to them instead of try to kick them out.

 

external sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Bay_Project

Brazil, Deforestation, and Enviornmental Responsibility

“Thirty thousand kinds of unknown plants.

The living actual people of the jungle

Sold and tortured-

And a robot in a suit who peddles a delusion called “Brazil” can speak for them?”

This is a Gary Snyder quote I revisited in order to establish the basis for a reality that is all too deplorable, yet real. Nobody should have the right to destroy what he or she did not create! People in governments are exploiting the land, people, and all its inhabitants in the name of economic process plus big bills in the pockets of the elite. I have a good friend from Brazil named Vitor and he told me that Brazil’s government is one of the absolute most corrupt in the world and just recently he told me a Brazilian president was impeached for laundering tax money. While much of the population lives in slums in or around the big cities, there are still many tribes that live in the vast rainforests. Gary Snyder had an incredible way of vivaciously poeticizing political and environmental issues. His device is very intriguing in the way that when one reads it, it will stick with them and is hard to ignore. The points he made in this poem along with others in “Turtle Island” are a very conscientious view of the actual destruction of living things in the name of progress and money.

The government allows money to be made off the destruction of these natural habitats and homes. Guha elaborates on this topic more by saying how in Brazil during the 70’s, scientists, lawyers, journalists, etc. all started to push an environmentally green movement. Forest loss, soil erosion, and water depletion plagued much of India’s already struggling peasants whom informed the more educated class. Brazils plan was ultimately proactive while India’s was mainly reactive. In Brazil, the destruction they call “progress” has involved even foreign aid and business as well as some help from the World Bank…are you kidding me? The lack of morality in people who are leading us into the future is distrusting. For example, in Guha’s “Enviornmentalism A Global History”, it was noted that “In the Amazon. A massive expansion of the road network-with some 8000 miles built between 1960 and 1984- opened way for settlers from the south in search of quick fortunes. Roads brought in colonists and took away the timber of mahogany, rosewood, and other valuable trees. In Thirty years almost 10 perent of territory, a staggering 60 million hectares of forest, or an area larger than France, had been logged or burnt over. An estimated 85 percent of this has been converted into pastures for livestock; a most inappropriate form of land use on poor soils of rain.” (Guha 117).

Even though these people were poor and wanted a better life, this is a prime example of how humans need to be responsible and smart about how we treat the Earth. Most of the land was essentially destroyed for no reason for it was converted to farming grounds yet the soil was inadequate, if it were more sustainable, it would be at least a little more reasonable. This is where the government needs to step in and help these people instead of letting forests get destroyed in order for a better cash flow. Jose Lutzemberger put in bluntly in 1978, saying: “ The citizen is realizing he needs to participate in politics because if not the bureaucrats will steamroll right over him. He needs to participate to know what is happening and he needs to shout.” Sadly, in the world of politics today, there is an apparent problem of a lack of social justice and an abundance of economic interest.

As it was and most likely will always be, politicians and government officials want to make the most money for the country that they can. It is up to the citizens of free country’s to make sure lawmakers are kept in check, for if not, exploitation of people, land, animals, and resources could get out of hand. The leaders of this world seem to have a lot of confidence but not enough competence. Some act as if natural resources are unlimited. Along with that, the disregard for basic life and exploiting land that is not rightfully theirs to tarnish causes agony to the environment and the life inhabiting it. On the other hand, it is also the responsibility of citizens to partake in social justice and be smart about how we treat Mother Earth, especially at the rate she is being harmed.

The Specialization Sensation

 

We are mostly all guilty in the ills overconsumption of energy and living through a “Specialized lens”, especially if you are an American citizen.  Simply being aware of it and sympathetic to the problem does not cause an affect. It is apparent we are out of tune with the world from tangibles such as the environment, to intangibles such as our being.

In Wendell Berry’s “The Unsettling of America”, we are introduced with an essential question of what ecological crisis has to do in correlation to character. For starters, Berry explains how the human mentality is quite contradictory in terms of what we say and do, more specifically, corporations, lobbyists, politicians and doctors. There are countless instances of groups who politically stand for something such as environmental preservation, yet would for example be in business partnership with a company who drills oil holes to contract fossil fuels. This is undoubtedly a bad look, but since we live in a capitalistic government with a free economy and private business, it is still legal. Berry states “…the possibility of the world’s health will have to be defined in the characters of persons as clearly and as urgently as the possibility of personal “success’ is now so defined. Organizations may promote this sort of forebearance and care but they cannot provide it.” (Berry 29).

Furthermore, we as a society tend to see places outside of consistent human visitation that have no economical value and as “scenic” areas. This whole concept is skewed in the sense that these places are part of us as for all the land we may seek out to explore. Our wholeness and connectedness with the land is lacking at best. When we see that we are all interdependent among one another in this habitat, more respect, care, and caution should naturally follow. Being mindful of this is very important and is an essential way of looking at the world as a living and breathing interconnected ecosystem.

 

Part of the whole problem with our lack of interconnectedness as a whole has part to do with specialization. I found Berry’s social commentary on specialization in our society quite fascinating. Basically, he says how people are raised in society to be a specialized component, competent to do one thing. This will occupy much of a persons time thus having them depend on other specialists such as farmers for food, or actors for entertainment. Everyone is interdependent on each other, yet ironically this creates a bigger gap between us and ourselves as a person. Subconsciously, this process enables us to be dependent, which causes a sense of hopelessness. Even though living standards are phenomenal, happiness seems to be lacking. Berry states, “The specialist system fails from a personal point of view because a person who can do only one thing can do virtually nothing for himself. In living in the word by his own will and skill, the stupidest peasant or tribesman is more intelligent than the most competent worker or technician or intellectual in a society of specialists. What happens under the rule of specialization is that, though society becomes more and more intricate, it has less and less structure. It becomes more and more organized, but less and less orderly” (Berry 23). Along with this, it can be especially dangerous when specialists have no interest in human advancement, yet just want job security and do bare minimum. Or even more terrifying is when specialists are involved with interest groups to make profit and regress advancement such as doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

The world has come to an interesting place and it is easy to dismiss or refrain from the fact that there are ills in our society. As far as specialization and how we think about the habitat we live in, it can be dangerous to be ignorant and passive. There is an ecological crisis in our environment for it is apparent we are not fully connected with the natural world, each other, or even ourselves. When this happens, it is particularly easy to be passive about these things. But in order to live in a more orderly and connected world; knowledge, understanding, and action to better our environment and ourselves is essential.

 

A Look at the Language of Gary Snyder’s “Turtle Island”

The language used by Gary Snyder in “Turtle Island” paints a vivid picture of mankind’s relationship with the natural world, as well as critiques the not so good things about modern day society. I feel Snyder’s message is to ultimately respect all life and not leave too big of a “footprint” on this Earth, for the wrong steps could lead us down a dangerous and irreversible road. With that being said, I also believe his language details the importance of our environment and that the natural world is really the force in control no matter how much humans think we can control everything. I have picked a few poems that I believe best convey this message.

First is my favorite poem out of this book, “Mother Earth: Her Whales”.

In this piece, Gary Snyder starts off with a wonderful description of creatures in the rainforest using specific imagery. He states:

“An owl winks in the shadows

A lizard lifts on tiptoe, breathing hard

Young male sparrow stretches up his neck,

Big head, watching-“

This type of language brings life to the animals of the rainforest and establishes them as alive and conscious beings, observing. Then, the poem shifts into calling out Brazil by stating

“Thirty thousand kinds of unknown plants.

The living actual people of the jungle

Sold and tortured-

And a robot in a suit who peddles a delusion called “Brazil” can speak for them?”

The language used in this stanza shows that the social construct of a country owning the land that was there long before the established human takeover is absurd. These people really don’t have the right to get to decide what happens as far as the natural world in that area goes; humans just gave themselves power by force and everyone else doesn’t really care as long as they are not impacted directly. But Snyder then goes on to speak about the humans that are indigenous there and have been for countless generations. Now because of profit, people in suits that call the shots for the imaginary borders of a government that operates as “Brazil”, get to ruin the lives of people, animals, and all life forms alike. The language of this poem then goes on being descriptive and speaking of whales, describing them like graceful giants. Snyder speaks of the whales as

“Hanging over subtly darkening deeps

Flowing like breathing planets

in the sparkling whorls of

living light-“

And finally, the last part of this poem il be discussing is this stanza

“And Japan quibbles for words on what kinds they can kill?

A once-great Buddhist nation

Dribbles methyl mercury

Like gonorrhea

In the sea.”

This is where the poem again takes a dark turn and the language is used to describe the juxtaposition of how a Buddhist nation who peaches peace, then goes along and allows all of aquatic life, such as whales, to be harmed with mercury. Like gonorrhea in the sea, spreading the disease of methyl mercury.

 

Like “Mother Earth: Her Whales”, the poem “It Pleases” uses language to describe a social commentary on the relationship between lawmakers and the natural world. The poem starts off with a scene over Washington D.C. with a large bird on top of dome of the capitol building. I found this language of being a metaphor. The bird seems to represent the natural world at whole; being on top of the capitol where the laws are made. This simply means that no matter how much humans or politicians try to keep everything in order and be the most powerful entity on Earth, Mother Nature will always be the supreme entity and no law or person can really do anything if say a natural disaster happens. Snyder states:

“The center of power is nothing!

Nothing here.

Old white stone domes,

Strangely quiet people,

Earth-sky-bird patterns

Idly interlacing

The world does what it pleases.”

 

These were really the standout lines that stood out to me as far as what the language was trying to insinuate: The world does what it pleases. Snyder shows how this entire stuff human’s do is strange and almost mundane to the bird. Lawmakers can make these laws but they are nothing in comparison to the laws of nature: Humans are really just another animal that is social and entitled, the power of Mother Nature and what she can do is a whole different magnitude. Like Snyder states, people just claim land and make it their own, then correlate this with power, such as money. The laws we make, we give meaning to, and we tend to stay away from destruction in order to avoid jail time. But Mother Nature is like a psychopath in an anarchist society: she will do what she pleases.

In conclusion, the language Snyder uses to captivate his audience is astounding. His poetic device ensues a tone of humbleness and the oneness of all beings. We must question everything around us in order to be critically thinking difference makers. That is what the meaning behind the language of Gary Snyder’s “Turtle Island” is all about. Whether or not we like it, the natural world is far more in tune with us than we are to it, and we have to play by its rules. We are merely guests on planet Earth for a short time; while the natural essence of Mother Nature remains, she is more powerful than us.

Rachel Carson and Sexism/Backlash

 

 

Rachel Carson and Sexism/Backlash

 

Even though Rachel Carson undeniably changed how people think of pesticides, she still got a lot of sexist and personal attacks regarding her demeanor and ideas. Her ideas were especially radical for the time of the “Silent Spring” release, yet the criticism she faced was unfair and misleading. Among those attackers were people who worked with pesticides in the government, calling her radical, disloyal, unscientific, hysterical, and even a communist sympathizer (at the height of the cold war, nonetheless). Carson’s findings were to be dismissed in most of the scientific community and public for being too passionate and not rational enough, even though her research seemed to be thorough and accurate, some quotes and facts even being by scientists in the book itself. Instead, she was seen as a writer who was trying to overstep boundaries by stepping into the science field and was thought to not understand the subject fully. Carson was compared to Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson instead of an activist for nature and human rights alike, being called also “Unfair, one-sided, and hysterically overempathetic”. I never fully grasped how monetized women were seen back as recent as the 1950’s and 1960’s. According to my research, its been known that even when she was in time magazine she was dressed as a housewife surrounded by birds and children. This painted a surface level portrait of what Rachel Carson was trying to accomplish, she wanted to be respected and recognized for her revolutionary findings, yet most were just outraged at her ambition and audacity to make the world a safer and more harmonious place.

It seems her trials and tribulations must have been very disheartening and frustrating. Women have always been undermined and dismissed for most of humanity due to not being in their comfortably seen role in a patriarchies society. Telling men of this time that a women was making all of these findings that contradicted a popular opinion and contributing a critique that made sense and called for change gave her a title as radical as communism… Seems like her attackers were a bit more hysteric than herself. What was it like being a female writer, scientist, and activist at a time where it totally was not seen as appropriate? It must have been a huge rollercoaster of ups and downs, doubts and triumphs hope and despair. Luckily, this book received much praise after a while and her findings seemed to be true. Because of Rachel Carson and her wonderful work of “Silent Spring”, I believe a lot of people have a different view on the world we live in and what is actually happening “behind the scenes” of public knowledge. “Silent Spring” is a beautifully written warning of how if we are not cautious in controlling nature, we could run into disastrous problems that would put the world at unrest. Carson’s ideas are powerful, thoughtful, and informative. I found it unfathomable that people could oppose her work so much when in reality, she wants a better world for everyone and went to great extents to give the public a knowledge they had no idea existed. It makes me wonder what else is going on in the world that the general public is dismissed from. Not only this, but also the words and phrases she used were very poetic and persuasive. She spoke from the heart with concern and urgency.

Rachel Carson seems not to speak on behalf of people, but instead the entire natural world. She understands that if poisons such as pesticides affect everything else on earth, it will disturb human’s well-being and we have a high chance of living in distress or even doom. We are only a part of this world; we are not immune or indestructible. If we do not pay attention, be thoughtful, and regulate what we put into nature, we too could suffer the consequences. Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” put this into writing in the best way possible, in my opinion.

external sources:

http://www.environmentandsociety.org/exhibitions/silent-spring/personal-attacks-rachel-carson

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/09/28/_50_years_after_rachel_carson_s_silent_spring_sexism_persists_in_science_.html