Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today's Quote: Endgame

The visionary poet Robinson Jeffers enunciated the situation bluntly, describing mankind in poems including "The Broken Balance" (1929) as "a sick microbe," "a deformed ape," a "spreading fungus . . . slime-threads and spores," "a botched experiment that has run wild and ought to be stopped." For many decades I've been slow to agree with him, feeling of course more empathy for people than for fungal spores or microbes--but a botched experiment, yes, I fear so. And I think by this point, Thoreau, Emerson, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Herman Melville, John Muir, would too. The word "Creation" was in common parlance throughout my young years, meaning what human innovation had not brought into being but, rather, was provided for us to start with, either by a "man upstairs" or by eons of vitality evolving before; and people, although spendthrift, felt somehow that they were embedded within it. An inherent awe or mystery was taken for granted, whereas now, I suspect, the metaphor of cancer will become commonplace, as we eat our planet's skin and soil its liquids, like a metastasizing disease. Another visionary writer, Edward Abbey, put it well, in 1970, for the new century: "We are none of us good enough for the world we have."
---Edward Hoagland, Sex and the River Styx