Deep Economy

McKibben has to say that you can either choose more, or better. There is no way to hit both birds with one stone. Research has shown that the more wealth you gain, the less happy that growth makes you. However, for Zhao, more and better go together because she was living in a rural town in China with her dad and sister. Her mom had left and her dad abused her and her sister. She will be unable to complete any schooling after the ninth grade. People are no longer happy because there is a lot of stress to do more. Technological advancements have also hurt people’s communication skills as well as their ability to write. With social media, you can never escape other people. You are exposed to what seems like a perfect life when in reality it is not. There are more cases of mental health issues due to an increase in social media usage. This can drain a person and drop their happiness levels. McKibben’s quote about the upcoming holidays and Laura Ingall Wilder effect show that we, as Americans, are very materialistic. When living a basic life, you don’t need 100 different things and when you receive something small, it means more to you. With the holidays, a lot of people do think it is all about the presents and seeing how much you can get of what. It should be more about the memories, family, and other things that are not extremely materialistic.

 

Revised Draft

Muir’s View on Wilderness, Indigenous People, and the Differences Between His Time and Our’s

John Muir is the father of National Parks and quite the guy. From exploring Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Pacific to living in the Sierra Mountains, Muir’s travels inspired him to focus on showing others the environment. Muir’s spiritual awakenings with wilderness are inspiring and show the beauty behind even the hard things in life. While Muir had a few falls while in nature, he still manages to see it as a beautiful exploration full of emotions and journeys. Muir’s spiritual awakenings with nature are very interesting and open up the world and his way of thinking. Wilderness can do that to people.

This paper will look into the life of John Muir and how he became the father of National Parks and what kind of spiritual adventures he has gone through due to the wilderness. Indians during Muir’s time were treated harshly with little concern towards them. Muir’s treatment of the Indians is very interesting, for some he treated with respect and others he did not. His preferences were based mainly on religion. In this paper, I look at Muir’s definition of the wilderness and how he treated the Indians during his time. I also distinguish some key differences in how Muir viewed the world compared to my fellow peers in today’s day and age.

The word wilderness has a different meaning for many people. While the word wilderness does have a dictionary definition, many people associate it with different things and areas. This alters a person’s perspective on the word as well as their definition. The word wilderness comes from the Old English word wildoerns, which means the place of the wild deer (Powici, 2004). It is most commonly used in the English language to describe a landscape, but the word has changed over time to describe different types of landscape. Two hundred and fifty years ago, it was used to describe places that were “barren”, “savage”, and “deserted” (Cronon, 1995). Wilderness was also closely associated with religion at the time. Cronon writes: “The wilderness was where Christ had struggled with the devil and endured his temptations” (Cronon, 1995). Religious texts include many mentions to the environment and wilderness, such as the Garden of Eden and Mount Sinai. The wilderness is how people 250 years ago related to religious texts. Many believers of different religions appreciate the wilderness because of its connection to the spiritual world.

Wilderness is important because it is a habitat to other beings and fulfills vital psychological needs which help us become more mature. (Powici, 2004). The wilderness helps house multiple species, from bacteria to humans. Prokaryotes and eukaryotes need the wild to survive in some sense. Wilderness to me is something untouched by man where one can go and feel peace. Wilderness is a spiritual place and can refresh my brain when I am in need of a new beginning. It is a place where one doesn’t feel judged and can be alone without being completely alone. There are multiple species in the wilderness that surround me even when I am alone. It is comforting to be alone but not feel like I am the last one on Earth. The wilderness helps with that in a sense. For many people, the wilderness has become a sanctuary, asylum, and freedom as well (Powici, 2004).

Muir’s writing is very poetic when he describes what he sees while in the wilderness. He paints a picture like Bob Ross, describing in great detail how trees and flowers look (Powici, 2004). He focuses in on the little details, giving the reader the sense that they are in Yosemite with him. While reading his work, I could picture the flowers and trees in my head perfectly, imagining that I was there with him. Muir looked into the landscape instead of through it and right out of it. Muir described the pines of Yosemite as ‘definite symbols, divine hieroglyphs written with sunbeams’. He explains everything he is seeing while he also is experiencing it (Powici, 2004). In Cronon’s The Trouble with Wilderness, he says, “When John Muir arrived in the Sierra Nevada in 1869, he would declare, ‘No description of Heaven that I have ever heard or read of seems half so fine’” (Cronon, 1995). Muir is one of the few who describes the wilderness as not having many flaws. In Cronon’s work, he also states “The writer who best captures this late romantic sense of a domesticated sublime is undoubtedly John Muir, whose descriptions of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada reflect none of the anxiety or terror one finds in earlier writers” (Cronon, 1995).

Many people in today’s society describe their experience in the wilderness fully, making sure to include the worst parts first. Humans are more prone to remember bad events over the good events that happen (Tugend, 2012). They also will take pictures of something they see so they have the memory but they miss out on what is happening in front of them still. Phones make it difficult to experience the wild while also capturing a picture or video of it. Many people in today’s society are lost behind the screens of their devices while exploring different places.

Muir believed that wilderness is something that should be kept in a fenced in area so it can be preserved. This goes against the definition of wilderness, for wilderness is something that usually cannot be contained because it is wild and deserted. He wants to preserve the wilderness in a way some people do not agree with. Many do not agree that the wilderness should be contained. However, the wilderness does need to be protected in a sense because a majority of people will not preserve their own backyard. He is the father of National Parks because of this reason. He would like to preserve the wilderness by fencing it in.

Muir’s writing is an art. Muir is sometimes compared to a prophet, not just in the wilderness, but for the wilderness (Powici, 2004). When writing, personal narrative is absent from his journal entries. For example, in the first passage of My First Summer in the Sierra, readers hear more about the physical aspects of the Sierra. Whereas in the second passage, it is a section about consciousness. Muir is a romantic, which means that nature transcends the human. Muir also uses religious metaphors that appeal to certain people (Powici, 2004). Muir’s writing provides a different experience for each individual that reads his work.

Muir writes, “When I reached Yosemite, all the rocks seemed talkative, and more telling and loveable than ever” (Muir, 2014). He personifies the objects that he sees while walking alone in the wilderness. He describes inanimate objects as if they are full of life and ready to talk to him. Muir also brushes off any harm that could be done to him. Muir also writes, “I had not yet reached the most difficult portion of the canon, but I determined to guide my humble body over the most nerve-trying places I could find; for I was now awake, and felt confident that the last of the town fog had been shaken from both head and feet” (Muir, 2014). Even though he had tripped and fallen, Muir sees it as his head is just clearing and doesn’t write about the pain he feels. For he writes, “and when consciousness returned, I found myself wedged among short, stiff bushes, trembling as if cold, not injured in the slightest” (Muir, 2014).

John Muir’s life growing up influenced his admiration for the environment. Muir was born in Scotland and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. His family lived in Wisconsin and he helped run the family farm. His family’s farm was small and could barely keep up with substantial farming. Muir went to the University of Wisconson – Madison but did not finish his degree. Later on in life, Harvard gave him an honorary degree (McDowall, 2010).

John Muir was very adventurous and wanted to explore the United States. Soon after dropping out of college, Muir walked from Louisville, Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. Muir began to question his faith while on his walk. He was raised into the Calvinistic religion. His thoughts while walking caused Muir to start writing about his adventures. While on his walk, he contracted Malaria in Florida. Muir traveled to Cuba to explore the mountains, however, he was too weak to climb. His dreams of going on to South America and the Amazon after had been crushed and he decided to go to California instead (McDowall, 2010). Muir’s travels have allowed him to have a wide range of experience with all different types of environments.

While traveling throughout North America, Muir had the opportunity to encounter many of the Natives. Muir describes the Indians as being as soft as birds, while the white man has left a bad mark. This is contradictory because Muir calls the Indians dirty (Powici, 2004). He writes that “nothing truly wild is unclean.” He also writes that the Indians are dirty and do not belong in nature because they do not preserve the land and are dirty (Pesses, 2018). Muir’s opinions on Indigenous people tampered with his views on how he thought they treat the environment.

Muir was very public with his thoughts on the native people he encounters. His thoughts on Natives were made public in many published journals. They weren’t kept in his private journals. When Muir would write about the people in the area, he was very quick to dismiss the Indians of America. When Muir traveled to Alaska, however, he praised the Indigenous people in Alaska. They did not put up a fight when converting to Christianity and had actually accepted the new religion. He spent a whole chapter talking about the Tlingit tribe because they had a whole ceremony called potlatch where they gave white visitors a gift. Muir put Christian Indians above all others. He described the indigenous people of Alaska as hard workers and gave them praise, whereas the ones in the lower 48 states are described as being lazy. Muir was very biased in his opinions on the natives of an area (Pesses, 2018). Muir only respected and gave praise to the indigenous people that had converted to Christianity. This further clarifies that his definition of wilderness includes the Biblical aspect of wilderness.

Muir’s discrimination against certain groups is very similar to what we deal with as a society today. There are many people in today’s time that treat others differently because of their race, religion, and gender. For example, many Muslims are discriminated against because they wear a hijab and aren’t Christian. Neo-nazism is also on the rise. There are still many people that discriminate against religion like Muir seems to do while traveling in North America.

Muir believed that the wilderness was pristine. When Europeans came over to America, they believed the wilderness was already pristine. While Muir talks about how he wanted to preserve the wilderness, he wants it to be untouched. The problem is that California’s beauty was already altered by people living there. He wanted to preserve human-made wilderness. However, Muir was not against people being in the environment. He was against industries taking over unless being used to promote tourism of the wilderness. Muir and Thoreau are the initial saviors of natural and wild spaces (Pesses, 2018). Muir’s trap is to incorporate humans back into the environment. Muir fights for the end of frontier mentality and for the rediscovery of inner frontier experience for urban visitors (Powici, 2004). The way Muir thinks about the environment is very interesting.

In conclusion, Muir believed that wilderness is something that should be kept in a fenced in area so it can be preserved. His definition is very different from that of Cronon. Also, Muir and the people during his time did not treat the indigenous people of North America with respect, for they only respected the indigenous people if they converted to Christianity. The people during Muir’s time were also different in how they treated the wilderness. Today, people want to hike and be out in nature whereas, in Muir’s time, the wilderness was described as being barren, savage, and deserted. Muir’s time in some senses was different from ours, but also similar in other ways.

Citations

Cronon, William. The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.

Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, W. W. Norton & Company,

1995, pp. 69–90.

McDowall, R M. “Biogeography in the Life and Literature of John Muir: a Ceaseless Search for

Pattern.” Wiley Online Library, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 16 Aug. 2010,

https://doi-org.ezproxy.umw.edu/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02351.x

Muir, John, et al. The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures. Yosemite

Conservancy, 2014.

Pesses, Michael W.” Environmental Knowledge, American Indians, and John Muir’s Trap.”

Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, vol. 80, 2018, pp. 112-133.

Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/pcg.2018.0006

Powici, Chris. “What Is Wilderness? John Muir and the Question of the Wild.” Scottish Studies

Review, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 2004, pp. 74–86.

EBSCOhost,ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?dir

ect=true&db=hlh&AN=14801581&site=ehost-live.

Tugend, Alina. “Why People Remember Negative Events More Than Positive Ones.” The New

York Times, The New York Times, 23 Mar. 2012,

www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/your-money/why-people-remember-negative-events-more

-than-positive-ones.html.

Formal Abstract

John Muir is the father of National Parks and quite the guy. From exploring Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Pacific to living in the Sierra Mountains, Muir’s travels have inspired him to focus on showing others the environment. Muir’s spiritual awakenings with wilderness are inspiring and show the beautify behind even the hard things in life. While Muir has had a few falls while in nature, he still manages to see it as a beautiful exploration full of emotions and journeys. Muir’s spiritual awakenings with nature are very interesting and open up the world and his way of thinking. Wilderness can do that to people. This paper will look into the life of John Muir and how he became the father of National Parks and what kind of spiritual adventures he has gone through due to the wilderness. In this paper, I also hope to look into the history of conservation and how Natives were treated during Muir’s time.

 

Powici, Chris. “What Is Wilderness? John Muir and the Question of the Wild.” Scottish Studies

Review, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 2004, pp. 74–86. EBSCOhost,

ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&d

b=hlh&AN=14801581&site=ehost-live.

Chris Powici goes into depth as to how John Muir talks about wilderness. Muir uses metaphors and religious imagery to describe his surroundings. Powici also talks about how Muir describes the Indians in the land. They walk softly on the Earth and leave a small footprint that can be compared to that of a bird or squirrel. The white man, on the other hand, leaves a footprint that will take much longer to disappear. Powici also discusses how wilderness is many terms and can not be defined as just one thing by one person. It means different things to different people.

 

Pesses, Michael W.” Environmental Knowledge, American Indians, and John Muir’s Trap.”

Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, vol. 80, 2018, pp. 112-133.

Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/pcg.2018.0006

Michael Pesses writes about how Muir was against industrial concepts, except for tourism. John Muir is praised by historians for wanting to conserve the environment. Pesses writes about how Muir talked down about American Indians and belittled them even after saying that the wilderness should be untouched by all but the indigenous people. American Indians are kept out of history books when it comes to the history of conservation. Pesses adds information about Denevan, who writes that American Indians did more harm to the environment than the Europeans. Muir also talks down on the American Indians, saying they were dirty and didn’t do much to help the environment.

 

McDowall, R M. “Biogeography in the Life and Literature of John Muir: a Ceaseless Search for

Pattern.” Wiley Online Library, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 16 Aug. 2010,

onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ezproxy.umw.edu/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02351.x.

McDowall talks about Muir’s life and his accomplishments. This will really help my paper because I will be able to get to know Muir better than how much I know about him now. McDowall talks about Muir’s walk across the southern states in the United States. He also talks about Muir going to Yosemite and his life afterward. There is also a section on where Muir gets his ideas. Muir got his ideas mainly from the vegetation and forest structure. He would focus on the ecosystems in place. Muir also had a favorite subject, the water-ouzel.

Preliminary Abstract for Research Paper

John Muir’s insight into how the environment works is very interesting to me. His views on the wilderness are different than those of other authors we have read this far in class. I really enjoy how Muir describes his interactions with nature while on his hike. Even when things go wrong, Muir has a positive attitude towards it and wants other people to experience the beauty of nature. Muir, being known as the father of national parks, is very inspirational in wanting others to experience nature. While many of the authors and poets we have discussed thus far in class are against fencing in nature, Muir is all for it. While I do not agree with him fully, I do think there should be national parks to encourage people to see nature. During my final paper research, I hope to find out more information as to why John Muir wanted to create national parks. I also want to learn about a handful of places he has explored and what kind of experiences he has had at each one.

 

Sources To Look At

McDowall, R M. “Biogeography in the Life and Literature of John Muir: a Ceaseless Search for Pattern.” Wiley Online Library, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 16 Aug. 2010, onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ezproxy.umw.edu/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02351.x.

Pesses, Michael W.”Environmental Knowledge, American Indians, and John Muir’s Trap.” Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, vol. 80, 2018, pp. 112-133. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/pcg.2018.0006

Powici, Chris. “What Is Wildnerness? John Muir and the Question of the Wild.” Scottish Studies Review, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 2004, pp. 74–86. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/loginurl=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=hlh&AN=14801581&site=ehost-live.

Mistral

Things by Gabriela Mistral is beautifully written, however, the translation is a little confusing. I enjoyed reading my poem but I did have to look up what a few of the words used to find out what they mean. It was almost as if Ursula K. Le Guin used the more elaborate version of some of the words just to make the poem stand out and feel more sophisticated.  I also ended up googling the poem in hopes to find a version that translated slightly better.

Mistral’s poem reminded me a little about the cycle of life a human goes through. The beginning was very childish. In one of the stanzas, Mistral talks about her childhood and mentions a poem told to her when she was seven. As the poem goes on, there is mention of the river she’s been hearing for forty years and a fallen tree. She mentions that the fallen tree is a tree or her father. I think her father has passed. When trees have fallen, it is the end of their life.

The ending to the poem is rather dark. Mistral lets a stone uncovered by dirt in the night while she sleeps. In the last stanza, Mistral states that the stone had never belonged to her because nature does not belong to one person in particular. Then, it’s back to the subject of death and a grave site. The last two stanzas do mention death a decent amount, which could mean that she is old now and accepting death slowly because it is bound to happen.

Mistral sees the land as something one cannot own. One may experience nature and become fully immersed but there is no such thing as ownership. People own things, but not the environment that they live in. The river is not owned by anyone, nor is the garden or stories of others. Nature takes over the river and garden, allowing them to become their own souls.

David Abram

David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous is a unique piece of work that is very sensuous and spiritual. Abram is brave for facing the spiders in a cave. That would scare me so much because spiders are my friends only then they are a good length away. When we went kayaking for FSEM, we got stuck in a thunderstorm. It was a little terrifying to me, unlike Abram with the spiders. I was slightly scared because we were standing in mud and the river was beginning to rise. Lightning and water do not mix well and the storm was very close to us.

Technology now is taking over the world. When I was younger, I played outside a majority of the time and made up my own games. I didn’t get a flip phone until the age of 8, when it was for emergencies only. I didn’t get an iPhone until 7th or 8th grade. My younger cousin received an iPhone for Christmas at the age of seven. She is severely addicted to her phone and it controls her life. Even my older cousin who experienced life without technology cannot go without her phone for one minute. Technology is really taking over our lives and controlling every aspect of our life.

Muir

Muir’s “A Geologist’s Winter Walk” is written to amplify the beauty of the environment and Yosemite. Muir’s views on the wilderness are very tame. He talks about it as if it is a gem on display for all to see. While it is a gem on display for all to see, he does not mention the unpredictable ways of mother nature. Muir seems to think nature is tame and something all can enjoy without a worry in the world. Muir slept on a rock while hiking which is crazy in my opinion. How could that be comfortable? He also mentioned that he didn’t think he had enough bread for the trip but it did not matter.

Muir’s entries are almost like an advertisement for Yosemite falls. His writing makes the location sound amazing and like a place, everyone should visit. This is understandable because he is known as the “father of national parks”. Muir’s writing is different from that of Whitman, and Cronon. While it is just as beautiful with descriptions, Muir seems to use his journals as advertisements to make others visit and see the parks.

I think Cronon would not appreciate Muir’s writing. While Muir and Cronon both talk about the wilderness being a beautiful place, Muir does not really mention anything bad about his hike. Cronon, on the other hand, has criticized the creation of National Parks and tourism in the wild. They are on two opposite sides of the scale for whether or not National Parks should be turned into tourist traps.

 

 

 

Wood, Harold. “Who Was John Muir?” John Muir and the Calypso Borealis – John Muir, vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/about/.

Whitman and Bello

Both Whitman, Thoreau, and Bello believe that one should experience nature directly. Thoreau focuses on the importance of walking and being one with nature. Bello also believes in being one with nature by working the land and keeping it fertile for human use but also protecting it. Whitman enjoys the cleanness of the air and being one with the nature around him. All three believe that to experience nature and wildness best, you must be put into the environment and take a minute to move around, look around, and breathe the clean air in.

Whitman enjoys the fresh air of the outdoors. “The atmosphere is not a perfume…. It has no taste of the distillation…. It is odorless, it is for my mouth forever…. I am in love with it” (Whitman 1). Whitman talks about how he is able to be “undisguised and naked” (Whitman 1) in the woods, enjoying the world and what nature has to offer. There is something special about being outdoors and having the chance to rejuvenate and starting with a fresh start.

Whitman also talks about how he cannot answer the questions of a child about what the grass is. “How could I answer the child?…. I do not know what it is any more than he” (Whitman 5). Nature is something that one does not fully understand. It is up to interpretation and doesn’t provide any textbook answers as to what it is and how it works. Sure, we know the science behind nature and different ways mother nature works, but it is very unpredictable. For example, Hurricane Florence was very untrackable for a period of time. It was unpredictable because mother nature is like that.

I wish I was able to read Whitman outside to experience the fresh, perfume free air of nature. Sadly, mother nature spoiled my plans and decided to drop some rain all day. But, it is clearing the air of the negative energy and the pollution that lingers from time to time. I plan to go back and read the book outside of finish the book outside when the weather gets better. I tried my best to imagine the fresh air and outdoors as I read in Virginia Hall’s parlor.

Cronon and Thoreau

Thoreau and Cronon both appreciate the wild and could have been great friends. They both have criticized mankind and how we commercialize nature. While Cronon talked about mankind commercializing the wild, Thoreau blames life on getting in the way of the ability to be able to walk in nature for hours at a time.

Thoreau has a very unrealistic expectation of the human population. Thoreau believes that mankind should be out walking for hours at a time, just moseying through fields and trails. However, that is basically impossible. The only way that could be plausible is if people did not sleep at all or there were more hours in a day. Life gets in the way of taking time to enjoy nature sadly. Cronon believes that Thoreau is lonely but I disagree in a way. I think it is very relaxing to walk alone and it seems that Thoreau agrees, enjoying the company of himself.

There have been a few times where I have been able to walk outside for about an hour but never have I been able to walk outside for more than three. Life just gets in the way and I have to go back to being indoors. There is always work that needs to be done. Thoreau states that he doesn’t understand how women stay in the house all day to clean and cook, but I doubt he would have offered to help his wife if he had one. Cronon and Thoreau were very similar to me, wanting us to be in touch with nature but not ruining it by capitalizing on it and taking control of the wild.

Rappahannock Adventure

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my birthday. The Rappahannock river was calming and allowed me to reflect on my first week of classes. As we paddled down the river, I wanted to just roll out of my kayak and soak in the river. My skin was hot from the summer and I was very excited to go into the water. When we had the opportunity to get in, I was amazed that my mud and water soaked shoes were still floating to the top, causing a slight issue when I wanted to tread water. The lifejacket was up to my chin but it was a great experience. I really enjoyed getting to know the FSEM group.

As the rain started, I began to get a little worried. I love watching thunderstorms from the safety of the indoors but being outside during them scares me slightly. However, the people I was with made it lots of fun. I’m really happy that we had the opportunity to all get together and go down the river. I loved spending time with everyone.

When we paddled back, I was going as fast as I could because the clouds seemed to be getting dark (spoiler alert: it didn’t rain again until late). My arms felt like jelly and as I was watching a movie in my bed that night, I felt as if I was still on the water. I honestly love that feeling and it helps me go to sleep because I am a major water child (or at least I used to be). The blue heron we saw while out on the water was breathtaking. I wish I had my phone with me so I could have taken a picture but at the same time I am happy I was able to be unplugged for a few hours. It was relaxing and I was able to let my mind drift. Cronon was right about nature being untamed and wild. We got to experience that while out on the river and I am glad that our group was able to stay calm and make the instance light.