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April 25, 2007

Adam Smith would drive whatever he felt like unless it benefited his wallet enough to stop.

An altruistic approach would be a cultural renaissance, a dramatic shift in our way of thinking. Thinking of the long-term collective in just the area of the environment would spill over into other areas. The implications of such a shift reach into the world of politics and economics. What would this mean for our capitalistic system? I do believe that an economy of competition is the greatest source of economic and technological advancement. The market also perfects the art of customer care (Businesses couldn’t compete if they were staffed by DMV employees). Also, our private economic sector is one of the few domains that calls for our government to be non-authoritarian – but can capitalism coexist with much more socialist styles of thought in other areas of society?


We are a progressive society, but moral progress may have to be sacrificed for the more rapid self-interest approach. People should still be reminded of the altruistic implications of their actions, if for no other reason than so that we can remember our morals.


An entirely moral approach is really way to slow and it may not even be possible to defy human nature to such a degree. The shift would be huge and probably wouldn’t mesh with certain aspects of American society. An approach that mostly appeals to the rational self-interested individual is the only way to bring about the timely change that we need.

April 19, 2007

Lets Talk About Girl Talk

I do agree that our cultural mindsets are the root cause of most environmental problems that we face today. I’d probably describe it as a culture of industry, but that broad mindset happens to spawn feelings of domination over nature. This rage is apt.


I would also agree that, on the large scale, our culture exploits the female form. I don’t necessarily feel it is immoral to display attractive women to draw attention to a product, but it is definitely used to an advantage in our society, and it is widely accepted. It is artistic marketing, just like using a catchy song or a flashy billboard, and at our base levels most of us ignore the prudish inhibitions and recognize the aesthetics. Getting back on track: yes, female bodies are mined resources in our culture (without such a negative connotation). I concede the fact that I am a male, but I don’t see the cause for rage on this level. I don’t consider this domination. This rage is not so apt.


I think the rage towards men comes from a level much below the general cultural level. Terry and Sandy over-generalize to make it seem like a cultural problem. I don’t think that most men feel the kind of estrangement with themselves that she and her friend talk about, which results in a warped sense of intimacy. They’ve apparently known some men with issues. The generalization would be insulting if I were more prone to such things. It hurts her credibility on a logical level.


The domination of women is not quite a result of culture like the domination of nature is. Domination of women is more isolated and personal, and the extrapolation to the entire population is not as founded as it is to blame our culture for environmental problems.


Is there a connection between the two? No, I don’t really see it. Domination of nature is the result of a culture oriented around industry, while occurrences of domination of women are more the result of…..I don’t know……..bad parenting?

April 11, 2007

Tranquility to the max

Lake Seagull, BWCA – 30 miles up the Gunflint Trail out of Grand Marais, Minnesota.


This is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Water is the abundant molecule, but I like to imagine the magnificent canyons I’d see if it were all drained. Water is so copious up here that land never seems more than an island – the bluffs overlooking the underwater canyons which teem with unseen life. There’s a third spatial dimension up here – depth – one that city blocks and floor plans fail to capture. This world has obvious elevations, terrain contours, peaks and valleys (much of it below water). The water's surface is the contrast – vast and smooth. You can sense that this water is a slice of perfect sphere, a seet of mirror.


The new spatial dimension requires the sacrifice of time. We were fortunate enough to make the mistake of bringing in only one clock, which we failed to set prior to the two hour paddle from car to the campsite. Cell phones were the previous reference, but they were left behind because radio waves rarely make it out here. Our noon was simply when the sun was at the zenith. That was the only indication. It was unknown to us how much dusk and dawn were pushed apart at these high latitudes. One attempt to set the terribly imprecise alarm clock for dawn was embarrassingly far off; the sun had probably been yellow for hours. I have never been through longer stretches of daylight in my life.


When wind came, this force of nature has never before seemed so impressive. Stare upwind from your swinging hammock and you see unfathomable amounts of water drifting casually towards you as many island-riding platoons of trees point their leaves your way. Numerical descriptions have no comprehensible meaning on such scales


Nor has the sun ever been so impressive, inescapable, permeating everything.


The earth is rocky, but smoothed by eons of erosion. It melds seamlessly, as if smudged by the colossal finger of an artist: into water in one direction and into grass and tree in the other. Pines can be as exotic as palms.


In this place you feel the vastness of the earth and the complexity of an ecosystem. You feel the impact and the proof of personally unverified truths. The Earth really does rotate – there’s the sun arching across the sky. At night there’s an entire planet blocking your view of it, so you build a campfire in remembrance. The planet exists even in our absence – here you are in a place dominated by life, but there’s not another person for miles. Object permanence is now fully realized. Blues have never been deeper and greens never more vibrant. They mix and balance each other perfectly. You feel as though you could approach sensory and mental overload, but inexplicably you have never felt more tranquil. No worries, only the best of friends and the rawest of nature.

April 5, 2007

He wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer. (Did Olson have friends?)

I understand what Olson is saying, but I don’t believe that human happiness and dignity are completely lost when natural spaces are absent. I just don’t think the connection is as deep as he makes it sound.


Nature can provide tranquility and a place to get away from the stress of living in modern society. It slows things down and gives us a glimpse of a larger picture. I do not doubt that there is an intrinsic connection between nature and the human psyche, but it just isn’t as powerful as Olson makes it sound.


Nature is definitely a factor in our well being, but it is not the dominating factor. I have to believe that things like interhuman relationships provide a lot more meaning and happiness in people’s lives.


We would surely loose a piece of ourselves if we lost natural spaces, but it’s not like happiness and dignity would be completely out the window. There are just a lot of other pieces that that satisfy large portions of those aspects of the human mind. Thus endeth my redundancy.