For me, this quote perfectly exemplifies Muir’s depiction of the allure civilized man felt in regard to wilderness. While this quote addresses the dangerous qualities of nature from a realistic approach, I am under the impression that for Muir and countless others, the perils of untouched nature only further added to its charm. In our reading, Nash stated that “Muir believed that centuries of existence as primitive beings had implanted in modern men yearnings for adventure, freedom, and contact with nature that city life could not satisfy (Nash pg. 128).” I am under the impression that not only was Muir a champion for wilderness, but a staunch opponent of modern civilization. The quote you chose shows how Muir thought wilderness was in actuality the rightful place for mankind. To further support this claim Nash concluded that “instead of lauding civilization, Muir expressed displeasure at its cruel, repressive, and utilitarian tendencies. Wild nature, in contrast, appeared to have a liberating influence conducive to human happiness (Nash pg. 123).”
I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this reasoning. Thanks again for sharing, Gabriela Hi there Landon, I am so happy to have come across your post! I am completely unfamiliar with the quote you selected to share, but all the more impressed with Muir’s works after having read your post. Having seen the Redwood forest in Northern California, I can speak from personal experience when I say that I believe that Redwood trees encompass all the aesthetic qualities that Muir believed wilderness to exemplify. The ties you made to the raid on resources concept particularly resonated with me. It is my understanding that upon discovering the giant sequoia in particular, the initial approach to their existence was to try and dispatch of them for lumber. However, they were saved, so to speak, because their wood was not hard enough and tended to splinter, deeming them a less cost- efficient source of lumber. I find that the concept of designating wilderness for aesthetic purposes aligns greatly with the preservation of redwood trees; they served no economic purpose towards civilization aside from tourism. This concept ties into our readings in regard to the designation of Yellowstone, where the “strategy [of Congress] was not to justify the park positively as wilderness, but to demonstrate its uselessness to civilization (Nash pg. 112).” Thanks for sharing, Gabriela Brune, Michael. “Redwoods Forever.” Sierra Club , Sierra Magazine, 5 Mar. 2014, . Hi there Tristan, Thank you for your response! I too agree that this quote is very exemplary of Muir’s general opinion along with representative of his personal evaluation of the importance of wilderness. I like how he touched upon not only the varying landscapes of wilderness, but also the divine presence they occupy. That is a good question you brought up. For me, “the spot where we chance to be,” could possibly be interpreted as any place we are lucky enough to be in the wilderness. I think that the full thought process Muir was going for is represent
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- Spring '08
- Wilderness, John Muir, Sierra Club