Final Paper

April 24th, 2008

Final Project            Throughout the duration of this course, the authors we have analyzed yielded their specific ideas and perspectives regarding both society and the non-human. Despite the abundance of readings dissected, Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez project strong imagery which remains embedded in the mind. Though the two authors differ in style they leave the reader with an appreciative sense of the world, and the beauty that fills it. Through different perspectives Emerson and Rodriguez together project appreciation for the non-human, and the views from which they are taken provide excellent variability for the readers’ relatedness to the works.            In the poem Always Running, Rodriguez describes the troubled life that an individual becomes infused with. With calamities such as poverty, fear, and abandonment the individual finds refuge in the only natural aspect of the jungle that is his home. The river and its soothing remedies allow for the relaxation and healing of the mind, a way to escape the harsh realities of the only life he knows. The poem reveals to the reader the destructive effects which come about with material possessions and society. Possessions, as we see, only create problems for one to cope with. The narrator starts with the fact his car wouldn’t start for him that night, a car which a local gang recognizes as the same car once used to perform a drive by against them. If this already puts the narrator in a bad state, his wife leaves him the next morning and takes his children whom he loves dearly. Despite all of the chaos in his life, the river was always a refuge where he could think, heal, and cleanse.            Though not specifically, Emerson too writes of the hardness of societal living, using words such as “disgrace” or “disturbance” to describe what comes of it. The work Nature incorporates the spiritual and emotional dwellings that one may encounter while in presence with the non-human. He writes of enlightened feelings one should arouse when viewing nature, and how human aspects only clutter the mind and shield the beauty of it. In Nature Emerson states, “In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in the streets or villages….man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.” In context, he is saying how intense emotion engulfs one who has indeed come into contact with natural beauty, and that the beauty is what the individual makes of it. Not anyone can go into the wilderness and feel the enlightened feelings Emerson depicts. “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood,” according to Emerson, is what it takes to truly appreciate Nature. Clearly not all human’s posses such emotions for the natural aspects of the world, however Always Running gives the down to earth reality version of this appreciation. When all is down and society seems to have entangled the mind, nature does not hesitate to relieve it. As put by Emerson, “Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece.” No matter the individual, everyone has their own specific images of nature which, with the proper angle and light source, radiate an enlightened warmed sensation within that cannot be described. The man in Rodriguez’s text feels this emotion at the sight of the river. Once there, after cleansing himself and deep in thought about the previous night, a connection is made. The narrator begins to run, and does so after the sight of the running water. The intense running through the city may be in part out of rage, but it’s a comparison to the non-stop running of the water. The conclusion of Rodriguez’s poem states, “When all was gone, the concrete river was always there and me, always running.” This sentence alone reveals the intense connection one can make with an aspect of nature, living life with the idea that the bond between the two is life, and how indefinitely it does goes on.            Both authors relate to the sense of enlightened feelings one receives in nature’s presence, however Emerson intertwines much more with it. The work Nature as a whole revealed Emerson’s spiritual and religious values. He incorporated the heavenly realm of God and his masterful craftsmanship in the creation of our world, including Him in much of the descriptions he perceives throughout the work. “In the woods, we return to reason and faith” is a quote from Emerson which sums up the perspective of his writing style. The “reason” we feel in nature describes what Rodriguez wrote of the river in his poetry. Always Running describes this “reason” as what becomes of the narrators well-being upon sight of the water, depicting it as a place to think, heal, and cleans oneself. Though the “faith” is not depicted in the poem, (or nearly any of Rodriguez’s poetry), Emerson perceives it as when one is infused with nature, one is simultaneously infused with God and the “Universal Being.” This difference in writing style opens Rodriguez’s work to a broader spectrum of readers, who can relate easier to harder times than they can with Godly enlightenment in nature, which most individuals will never grasp.            Urbanization is a human aspect, which both authors relate to critically. Emerson only sees the sprawling effects of humans as this ugly covering, encompassing the beauty of God’s work and only serving as a disturbance to his appreciation of it. He even goes as far to say that the presence of other humans serve as part of this disturbance, and emphasizes solitary in order to embellish these feelings. Rodriguez is by far the most critical however, never failing to describe the unattractive, unsanitary, and inhospitable conditions of the city life in Los Angeles. Not only Always Running, but most of his poetry emphasize on the gross living conditions which many must live by, regardless of environmentalist ideals.  In this poem Rodriguez uses phrases such as “dumped garbage,” “dismembered furniture,” factories,” “trashcans” to depict the scenery which the narrator sees every day. The work is effective in morally grasping the reader, because not only do we see the conditions the author himself grew up in, but we realize how most of those living in Urban cities such as LA wish for a cleaner environment to live,  but cannot help but cope with the poverty that life has granted them. Emerson once noted, “A man is fed, not that he may be fed, but that he may work,” which is the truth of all beings on this earth, only the severity of it being the deciding factor.            Nature is a piece of work in which Emerson pours his values of the natural into. The work is divided into the classes Commodity; Beauty; Language; and Discipline, which together describe the world with which we live. Commodity is described as the aspects of nature as a whole. He writes how these aspects are diminishing as Urbanization continues, “how is the face of the world changed, from the era of Noah to that of Napoleon!” Beauty however, is fabulous in that it can be seen in anything. “Even the corpse has its own beauty” and “Nature satisfies by its loveliness…without any mixture of corporeal benefit” are quotes which stood out in this class because not only is it true that beauty can be found in a corpse, (thanks to Hollywood we understand that), but that nature has never asked for anything in return, no benefit intended. Rodriguez also depicts this in Always Running with the description of the “concrete” river and the dumped garbage alongside it, that one can still appreciate the Beauty in all of that with the simple flowing of the water, disregarding the negative. The class of Language in Nature is what describes the reason behind Rodriguez’s work. Emerson explains how through words, we poetically describe the world around us, how the poet and the orator have put onto paper every form and view of nature, in hopes of a perfect description. The last class Emerson addressed is Discipline, which covers the “meaning” behind it all. In summary, Discipline is the understanding that with each passing day, we gradually learn the way the world works. Understanding not only worldly processes like photosynthesis, but understanding both the mechanical and chemical makeup of it and where you as an individual fit in.  Always Running delves into this class, but at the same time tries not to address it directly. The people of LA understand that they are a part of the machine, but live day to day trying to escape the realities that come with it.            Both Nature and Always Running were both significant works perfected by their authors. Through different perspectives Emerson and Rodriguez together project appreciation for the non-human, and the views from which they are taken provide excellent variability for the readers’ relatedness to the works. Rodriguez’s poetry makes even the most sheltered individual relate to the scenery, with such descriptive imagery that upon reading the poem, one can’t help but feel the sense of hopelessness alongside the narrator. Though Emerson’s work was a bit unrealistic, the work grasped the reader, leaving him/her with a feeling of ingratitude and a lack of appreciation towards what we take for granted every day. Despite the excessive references to the “Universal Being,” his work almost converts its readers into environmentally aware individuals. Not only is one left with a greater understanding and compassion for the non-human, but changes are likely to occur in the reader’s lifestyle. Whether these changes are big or small, they are indeed changes which need to take place.  Our world and its natural aspects contain the most beautiful sights man has ever seen, and with the continued production of environmentally aware works such as these, more and more beauty on earth can be preserved.            

Abstract

April 24th, 2008

This abstract differs from my final paper in every way, having writing the paper with a different incentive in mind.

Abstract            For my final paper, the works of Thoreau and those of Emerson will be researched and compared to one another. What will be discussed will be the different perspectives on the non-human each expresses in their works, specifically the non-living, (wind, water, fire, earth), with minimal detail on the “living” non-human. Works by such authors as Muir, Cooper, and some Spanish poets such as Cardinal, will also be incorporated into the work as either in agreement or disagreement with the two main authors’ views. The only “human” aspect of the authors that will be analyzed will be the effect their works would/could have on conservation of the non-human.

Poem

April 21st, 2008

This poem doesnt deal with ecology, but I wrote it a long time ago and like it.

THE WISEMAN

The Wiseman,

how to define?

is it he who knows everything,

or he who knows he doesn’t?

to what extent is one Wise?

This line we draw for the smartness of man,

And yet still divided between book and street.

What is……a wiseman?

Luis Rodriguez

April 21st, 2008

              Luis Rodriguez writes about the non-human as if it were a burden upon a persons well-being. This however is actually because the non-human is characterized much differently than the writings we have seen with past authors. Rodriguez’s work describes the difficulties that come with city life, and included is the fact that you are surrounded by concrete, this lifeless dull material, which is not exactly a pleasant sight to stare at every day. Past authors we have discussed included more of a positive outlook on the non-human, only theirs incorporated nature and its beauties, only writing about suburbia in order to compare its ugliness to natures beauty. This is though, a lifestyle, one which is all the people of LA know. The sense of “place” that they feel is completely understandable, because you when you think about it, anything you had in the past in form of personal possesions you have a connection with. No matter if it was a picture of you going into your first grade classroom or a stuffed horse you had but havent seen in ten years, you feel a sense of well-being and graditude towards it, and a connection with it is made. The same would go with the city life, because no matter how much you hate it and want to live somewhere else, so much of your life’s history is wound up inside of the “concrete river” that it’s almost impossible to forget about and disconnect from it.

Naomi Shihab Nye

March 24th, 2008

Most of Naomi’s poetry, while being read, sounded the same vocally coming from the author as it did in my mind. Her poetry is very captivating, only I feel there is too much meaning behind her sentences, which makes it a bit harder to understand. Though the intense depth of her poetry may be the goal of her works, she seems to almost stray of topic in the poems by getting too caught up in the original setting and begins to describe an abundance of irrelevant material that correlates, which in turn makes the story behind the poem vague. Don’t mean to criticize, it’s just not my style poetry.

Muir and Milton

February 12th, 2008

Muir and Milton            Muir in his writings expresses an emotion towards nature I don’t believe we have seen yet out of any of the other authors we have read from so far. From Muir, we see not so much talk of preservation methods, or even of human development, but instead we see this character who only distinguishes between the beautiful nature and the nastiness of city life. Muir’s writings only seem to emphasize him and the surrounding wilderness, which he feels must be accomplished by exploring, touching, and climbing over every piece of nature he feels worthy enough of his mountaineering. He finds nature to be a very spiritual thing, as does Whitman and Emerson especially, however does not relate nature to human qualities as does Thoreau, and Muir has a much better appreciation of the environment than did Bello.            As for Cronan’s input on Muirs’ writings, I believe that he would have thought of Muir as a bit over the edge with the whole “mountain man” ideology. Cronan sees “wilderness” as not being natural at all because of it being an ideology we have created. Cronan also stated how we as people should appreciate not just the natural aspects of the environment but also the man-made aspects of it. This is not the case we see with Muir, reading how he has supreme distaste with the city environment and only finds the peace and pleasure of life when out in the wilderness exploring.

February 10th, 2008

BELLO, WHITMAN, AND SARMIENTO Throughout the text we continuously see the authors’ clear preference for the direct experience, especially coming from Whitman. In Whitman’s “Song of Myself”, he expresses the necessity for people to go out by yourself and experience the natural aspects of the environment around you. Bello’s view seems to take the non-human aspect of the environment and put it above the human aspect of it, as does Whitman by stating straightforward how we as people need to start living smarter and better lives by aiding the land around you. According to the Authors, the benefits of a direct, first hand connect with the environment go farther than a cleaner place to live. Not only can one have more abundance of freshwater and game, but one can find oneself out there, and the more you explore the nature around the more enlightened one feels after experiencing the beauty of it.                 Whitman himself had a very embracing view on nature, while seemingly scrutinizing the modernization of our society. His admiration for human existence only came when he saw the simplest forms of it, such as when he would see a woodsman, or a carpenter, or a blacksmith, all of whom live simple enough lives to be admired by Whitman. Nature however is a totally different story, having read how Walt has a nearly sexual experience with himself and the spiritual nature that seemed to embellish him. Walt also claims to have found a new spiritual attraction within himself after this experience, saying “Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth, And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own.” Whitman’s aim at this was most likely to convince the reader that in order to find one’s true self and identity, one must experience and embrace nature, for it is the origin of all things we know today.

Response to Fennimore and Emerson

February 4th, 2008

Susan Fennimore and Emerson            Cooper in her article seems to be much more appreciative of her surroundings in general than we see coming from Emerson or Thoreau. We see how she not only observes and comments on the environment and the man-made structures that inhabit it, but that she also enjoys observing such structures as an old mill, or the Native Americans’ conserving lifestyle.             With Emerson it is a different story. Emerson embellishes the reader with the idea that “Nature” is this spiritual being that can be heard within all, and how it is all around. With Thoreau we don’t see too much of this, simply put the reader sees only an appreciation for nature in its natural state. Thoreau loves the non-human presence in nature, and Walden shows us what a contemporary state should be like with human presence.            In Rural Hours, Cooper seems to be writing for her own amusement as we read in the preface. She is only commenting on appearances of her acquaintances along with her surroundings in the manner in which the reader can see she is writing it as she is thinking it. Her writing about the land preservation was probably not taken well in the year 1850. This is due simply because of the lack of knowledge being expelled at the time on the subject of land preservation, or environmental issues in general. Also her being a woman writer at the time of the work more than likely hurt her promotion of the work more-so than if she was a male writer.

Response to Thoreau

January 21st, 2008

Response to Thoreau             In Walden Pond, Thoreau is taking extreme effort into contextualizing the idea of living in the primitive state, and attempting to make it sound like it truly is “the better life.” In comparison to Cronan’s ideas about Human involvement, Thoreau seems to be leaning more towards the actual understanding of Human behavior in the world, as oppose to the solutions that need to be met for the preservation of it.             Cronan however brings about a very good point in the evaluation of Thoreau. Cronan states that Thoreau demonstrates a “stern loneliness” in his experience of “wilderness”, at Walden Pond. This is exactly what I felt coming from Thoreau time after time throughout the reading, that with every mention of his friends or of the relatedness animals have with people, Thoreau  seems to give off a longing for human contact, and his necessity to communicate. I believe that Thoreau indeed found “wilderness” living at Walden Pond, not just through surviving it physically, but more importantly mentally.            Cronan states how earlier society viewed the wilderness as evil, and how we as people gradually accepted it as a good thing. I believe that our gradual approval of the wilderness came with our gradual urbanization, which took us away from the idea of the “evil forest.” However living out in the woods without human contact has made people crazy, and it is kind of weird how it messes with one’s mind. In this context, Thoreau did find “wildness” which I define as not only surviving the wild, but enduring the mental stress of not having anyone to talk to is a battle I do not believe I could win.

Response to William Cronan

January 21st, 2008

Response to William Cronan             William Cronan does a very good job at breaking down the concept of the “wilderness” in order for the guilt factor to develop within the reader. You see throughout the reading how Cronan is nearly worshipping the ideology of the wilderness environment and yet the only real solution that is brought about is that everyone should commit suicide in order for the “wilderness” to go back to the way it was.            In my opinion, Cronan is about fifty fifty alongside my views on the environment and the roles we as humans share with it. When walking through the woods, I too feel the sense of holiness and spiritual atmosphere that seems to engulf the mind. The appreciation of nature seems to be there for the two of us, however Cronan seems to take it a bit to the extreme with the whole “Deep Ecology” mindset that he continuously brings up throughout his work. I believe that Man was put on this earth with the intention of our usage of the materials around us. Humans have the mindset to perfect they’re mode of living, while the beaver per say was given the mindset to build a shelter to the best of its ability which will aid it to the fullest in its survival, “Just Like Humans.”            I myself have also had many wilderness experiences, and enough of them to have what I believe to be a full appreciation of nature in its simplicity. Cronan I believe takes it to the next level though with the talk of DEEP ECOLOGY, however those are his views and I have no room to contradict. His efforts help found organizations for wildlife preservation, and I don’t believe that any harm can come to preserving the environment for the future generations.