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Unformatted text preview: Gary Snyder 2004 The Practice of the Wild . Shoemaker & Hoard. [Orig. 1990, North Point Press] The Etiquette of Freedom (pp. 3-26) 4 That took my breath away. Here was a man who would not let the mere threat of cultural extinction stand in the way of his (and her) values. To well-meaning sympathetic white people, this response is almost incomprehensible. In the world of his people, never over-populated, rich in acorn, deer, salmon, and flicker feathers, to cleave to such purity, to be perfectionists about matters of family or clan, were affordable luxuries. Louie and his fellow Nisenan had more important business with each other than conversations. I think he saw it as a matter of keeping their dignity, their pride, and their own ways regardless of what straits they had fallen upon until the end. 5 Wild and free. . . . Both words, profoundly political and sensitive as they are, have become consumer baubles. I hope to investigate the meaning of wild and how it connects with free and what one would want to do with these meanings. To be truly free one must take on the basic conditions as they are painful, impermanent, open, imperfect and then be grateful for impermanence and the freedom it grants us. For in a fixed universe, there would be no freedom. . . . The world is nature, and in the long run inevitably wild, because the wild, as the process and essence of nature, is also the ordering of impermanence. Although nature is a term that is not itself threatening, the idea of the wild in civilized societies both European and Asian is often associated with unruliness, disorder, and violence. 7 It has always been a part of basic human experience to live in a culture of wilderness. There has been no wilderness without some kind of human presence for several hundred thousand years. Nature is not a place to visit, it is home . . . . All the hills and lakes of Alaska have been named in one or another of the dozen or so languages spoken by the native people. . . . The place-based stories that people tell, and the naming theyve done, is their archaeology, architecture, and title to the land. Cultures of wilderness live by the life and death lessons of subsistence economies. 8 Take nature first. The word nature is from Latin natura , birth, constitution, character, course of things ultimately from nasci , to be born. So we have nation , natal , native , pregnant . The probable Indo-European root (via Greek gna hence cognate, agnate) is gen (Sanskrit jan ), which provides generate and genus , as well as kin and kind . 9 The physical universe and all its properties I would prefer to use the word nature in this sense. But it will come up meaning the outdoors or other-than-human sometimes even here....
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- Winter '08