29.09.2012 - 06.10.2012
To sum up this week would be impossible. The ways in which we delved into the human spirit in relation to the earth was incredible. Formerly titled "Environmental Literature", our class this week was called "Imagining the Earth". Drew Ward, an environmental literature critic and writer, introduced us to a new way of seeing the earth. We questioned the imaginary line that we have drawn between ourselves and the earth. We have made it the "other". It has become an inanimate entity apart from us. It has become a stagnant figure, only a landscape to momentarily distract us from our lives. We have more important things to do.
We worked out ways to define what Environmental Literature is and is not. More importantly, however, we reflected on our kinship with the earth. I could try to explain that relationship, but there are so many people who do it better. If you care about what happens to the earth, read what they have to say. Actually, let me re-phrase that. If you care about what happens to yourself and your children, if you care about the well-being of your soul, read them. Read Wendell Berry. Read his collection of essays,The Art of the Commonplace, read his poetry. I know that I will continue to read him when I get home and have access to a library again. I will likely read him for the rest of my life. He is a prophet. He speaks for the earth just like Isaiah and Jeremiah. Read Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold.
Oh, and if you were wondering where that line between us and the earth was moved to, I might ask you if there ever was a line. The earth is one idea. Humans are a part of the idea. Nothing more. If you don’t believe me, and if you’re curious about how that works, we can talk. The answers are all around us. A lot of the answers are in scripture, but most of them are inside us. We are made of the same stuff as the earth. The earth is in us. When we die, it reclaims itself.
I don’t want you to have any excuse not to read Wendell Berry, so here is a poem:
MANIFESTO: THE MAD FARMER LIBERATION FRONT
by Wendell Berry
Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay.
Want more of everything made.
Be afraid to know you neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery any more.
Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something they will call you.
When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something that won't compute.
Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace the flag.
Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot understand.
for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium.
Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion--put your ear close,
and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world.
Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap for power,
please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head in her lap.
Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and politicos can predict the motions
of your mind, lose it.
Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go.
Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Copyright Wendell Berry.
Next week is Forest Ecology. I'll likely have more pictures after that, so look for them.