Where We Belong: Beyond Abstraction in Perceiving Nature

Where We Belong: Beyond Abstraction in Perceiving Nature ❰PDF / Epub❯ ☆ Where We Belong: Beyond Abstraction in Perceiving Nature Author Paul Shepard – Buyprobolan50.co.uk Gathered here in book form for the first time the fourteen essays in Where We Belong exemplify Paul Shepard's interdisciplinary approach to human interaction with the natural world Drawn from Shepard' Gathered here in Belong: Beyond PDF È book form for the first time the fourteen essays in Where We Belong exemplify Paul Shepard's interdisciplinary approach to human interaction with the natural world Drawn from Shepard's entire career and presented chronologically these pieces vary in setting from the Hudson River to the Where We PDF/EPUB ² American prairie to New Zealand Eually impressive is Shepard's spatial range as he moves from subtle differences to grand designs from the intimacy of an artist's brush stroke to a vista of the harsh Greek terrainAlluding to a range of sources from Star Trek to Marshall McLuhan to We Belong: Beyond PDF/EPUB ¿ the Bible the writings discuss such topics as the geomorphology of New England landscape paintings beautification and conservation projects the Oregon Trail and tourism Whether Shepard is pondering why the Great Plains conjured up sea imagery in early observers or how pioneers often resorted to architectural terms temple We Belong: Beyond Abstraction in MOBI :º castle bridge tower when naming the West's natural formations he exposes and thus invites us to unshoulder the cultural and historical baggage we bring to the act of seeing Throughout the book Shepard seeks the antecedents of environmental perception and uestions whether the paradigm we inherited should be superseded by one that leads us to a greater concern for the health of the planetThis volume is an important addition to Shepard's canon if only for the new view it offers of his intellectual development More important however these selections demonstrate Shepard's grasp of a wide range of ideas related to the physical environment including the various factors historical aesthetic and psychological that have shaped our attitudes toward the natural world and color the way we see it.


1 thoughts on “Where We Belong: Beyond Abstraction in Perceiving Nature

  1. Richard Reese Richard Reese says:

    Where We Belong is a collection of Paul Shepard essays that discuss how we perceive the natural world and how this influences the way we treat it Most of the essays were written between the 1950s and 1970s They include some ideas that evolved into major components of his classics Almost half of this book is devoted to provocative discussions of pioneer diaries a special treatHumans evolved as hunters and scavengers on tropical savannahs Today our genes are still those of Pleistocene hunter gatherers — not Anthropocene cell phone zombies Shepard believed that the process of normal human development depended on experiences best provided by living close to wild nature Children need to be surrounded by a variety of wild species to observe them and learn from them They need to be outdoors and experience how everything in their land is aliveThey need a culture that guides them through the transition from adolescence to adulthood via rituals of initiation When this is not provided “Self generated substitutes created by adolescents are a virtual catalog of delinuency and neurosis adolescents cannot discover their maturity in a city” They don’t understand that the all natural dance of creatures eating creatures is normal and good They think that food comes from stores They are space aliens as most of society isSome of the damage can be healed by spending time with nature Emotionally impoverished city folks can “recover elements of human ecology warped by millennia of immersion in domesticated landscapes Paramount among these is the opportunity to be free of domestic animals both as social partners and as models of the nonhuman” We have a powerful desire to live in a wild landscape that is inhabited by wild animals — and parks and pets are a poor substituteShepard was never a cheerleader for the domestication of plants and animals because it spawned a way of living that was harmful to everything The relationship between the human and non human shifted from one of freedom to one of human domination and control This led to profound changes in the way we perceived the world and to destructive changes in behaviorFrom the first civilizations growing population fueled ongoing deforestation Sheep goats and cattle were then turned loose on the former forest These “hoofed locusts” gobbled up young seedlings and ensured that the forest would never recover The exposed soil was then washed away by the rains creating vast wastelands that modern visitors now perceive as natural and picturesue This resulted in a “lobotomy on the land done not with a scalpel but with teeth and hooves” The Minoan community of Jerash a dusty village of 3000 was once home to 250000 “No wonder Western consciousness is an overheated drama of God’s vengeance and catastrophe preoccupation with sacrifice portents and omens of punishment by a heavy handed Jehovah Like the dinosaurs which are known mainly for their vanishing the ancestors we know best and from whom we take our style are those who seem to have lived mainly to call down calamity upon themselves”Much of the book is devoted to Shepard’s discussion of pioneer diaries from New Zealand and the Oregon Trail These essays are illuminating and disturbing In New Zealand the English observed a gloomy desolate terrifying wildness like “Caesar’s Britain” that was dreadfully unimproved To their fundamentalist minds wilderness was immoral and sinful The solution of course was to erase the existing ecosystem and turn the land into a proper English countryside Settler Richard Taylor wrote “The fern is like the savage; both are going down before civilization”On the Oregon Trail early travelers from New England and the Midwest experienced landscapes that were beyond their imagination — vast wide open spaces and dark skies with billions of twinkling stars Their wagons were prairie schooners sailing across the seas of waving grass At night they sat around fires fiddling and singing listening to the hoots of owls bellowing bison and the music of the wind They were serenaded by enthusiastic choirs of wolves howling and shrieking their ancient wild music Folks used to existing in the bowels of civilization were jarred by feelings of isolation solitude and emptiness At times the land was absolutely silent Then there were deluges prairie fires and tornados Humming clouds of the native mosuitoes were exceedingly friendly to the smelly travelers in funny attire “Everyone was deeply moved by the immense herds of buffalo as they roamed beside toward and even through the wagon trains”In hotter and drier regions travelers found buffalo trails that looked like old roads because of freuent use They saw rock formations that resembled castles lighthouses churches palaces and so on From a distance they looked like manmade ancient ruins ghost towns They wondered if the treeless landscape had once been cleared It was spooky to experience a vast region showing no signs of being beaten and molested by civilization except along the trail which was strewn with litter Many began the pilgrimage overloaded with stuff dumping ballast along the way to make the journey less challenging Everywhere along the trail people carved their names on rocks stumps skulls and trees Readers get two impressions from these pioneer stories One is that the experience was precious and sacred a very long trek through a healthy wild land Imagine how much people would pay today to experience a wild Nebraska where there were far buffalo and wolves than humans — no highways beer cans motels or fences The tales call up deep ancestral memories of how we all once lived pleasant memoriesThe other impression was that these travelers had not come to abandon civilization and return to wildness and freedom If the western plains had water good soil and forests the travelers on the Oregon Trail would have stopped in their tracks built cabins and destroyed it But they knew that they could not survive on the plains so they kept moving toward the promised land of salmon and forests where their descendants would build Portland and Eugene and create the ancient ruins of the future — enduring monuments to our experiment in civilization warning signs to the distant generations yet to be bornThe essays in this book discuss aspects of how civilized Western people interpret the natural world Their perspective is strongly influenced by our culture of wealth alienation and destruction What’s missing in this book is the perspective of people rooted in place who have reverence and respect for the land they inhabitOkanagan elder Jeanette Armstrong is one of many who elouently discuss the vital importance on having a healthy connection to place community and family She sees that our world is being disemboweled by alienated people who have no connection to place people who have no hearts because they are “dis placed” Shepard put it like this “Knowing who you are is impossible without knowing where you are”


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