From Harvard to Ktaadn,

Thoreau saw the world through the eyes of a man who was both out of place in his time and our own. Or perhaps he is an ideal petrie dish for both, displaying, in journalistic terms, the sentiments of a amateur naturalist (or in today’s terms, and environmental activist). Preserving in his writing, a contribution to our culture’s twisted sense of a connection to the natural world as a tourist. His observations are at once charming and disconcerting in that they both romanticize the lives of truly wild people and places yet at the same time we may envy his timing to see these places in a more “wild” state than they exist today. While he was content eating alpine berries and hiking for leisure, I can only wonder what the inner dialogue of his companions had been relative to Thoreau, having more experience and work behind them while the educated man went for a stroll or scribbled in his notebook. Though we all love a great story of long lost worlds, I can only refer back to a book I once read, “How Much Should a Person Consume?” by  Ramachandra Guha, which revolved centrally around Eastern and Western perspectives on wilderness, preservation and humans relationship with nature, and how our cultures differ in that respect and who were the central figures who shaped the collective, or in the words of the publisher “offers trenchant critiques of privileged and isolationist proponents of conservation, persuasively arguing for biospheres that care as much for humans as for other species”. At the time I read this I had scarcely been to the Northern Forest, and over this course have seen a few of the different uses and jurisdictions in a vast and humanistically disconnected web of woods, and how the balance of human needs (or wants, and wherever lies the distinction) regulates and influences the health of the forest and it’s non-human inhabitants.

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One Response to From Harvard to Ktaadn,

  1. pavel says:

    “It is difficult,” writes Thoreau, “to conceive of a region uninhabited by man.” Though he wrote this shortly after his 1846 trip, Thoreau nonetheless found himself in just such a region, and, literally, found it difficult to conceive. I wonder if we are similarly bound by a need for boundaries, definitions, and prescribed paths as we sketch our own understanding of place. It is place, after all, not space, that we have an affinity for: to make our mark on the unknown, and, through a series of decisions, make whatever might be wild our own.

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