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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Pretentiousness in Nature

Okay, I should be asleep by now - big trip tomorrow - but no, Dead Beat is still awake and worried about your writing.

Thing is, he still thinks that you most probably think he is distracted by science. Truth is he is distracted by nature.

Listen up to my pal David Quammen: "Let's broaden our thoughts by construing "nature" more carefully and inclusively. A volcanic eruption on Mars is nature. A black hole is nature. The atomic reactions occurring within the stars Mizar and Alkaid are nature. Dark matter is nature...By seeing nature big, seeing it as the realm within in which human enterprises such as science,m religion, and historiography occur, we may free ourselves from most of the old expectations and biases, positive and negative associated with what has commonly been understood by the term "nature writing."...Although nature writing in the traditional sense does include some clarion acts of literature (by Thoreau, Muir, and Leopold, for instance) and many other fine, steady, attentive works of observation and reflection, there has also been quite a lot of ethereal tripe. There have been too many purple effusions by one writer or another standing out in a forest or a meadow, misted by rain or spring pollen or pheromones and transfixed by the spectacle of his or her own sensitivity..."


Sorry folks but this is where this blog site came in, is it not?

She claims to dislike psychobabble and then engages in it ... much of her 'spiritual' intuition is a well understood cognitive process which she clearly does not understand. Don't get me wrong, she can write well, but there is no room for 'ethereal tripe'. As Quammen warns us "For the good of all concerned, we need the urban and trenchantly disposed to remain receptive to the subject of nature, in both its broad physical sense and its narrow biological senses, and we need the self-identified lovers of nature to maintain an edge of critical intelligence."

Otherwise the subtitle "An Apprenticeship in Nature" translates directly into "A Pretentiousness in Nature."

Quammen has his finger on the pulse. Too much tripe out there. Our job is to go deeper than that. I use Sharon Butula as a metaphor, but if even she cannot hack it (and she can't - she brings hysteria instead and contributes to our misunderstanding of 'nature'), then we have all a long way to go.

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