Tuesday, 4 March 2008

PrairyErth and the possibility of a land ethic

photo: NCRS. Quotations from William Least Heat-Moon, PrairyErth: a Deep Map, an exploration and meditation on Kansas:

"There is a [Western] character and its roots are found in the midwestern rural traditions of hard work, struggle in the face of adversity, frugality, practicability, individualism, democracy, and environmental irresponsibility." -- Leo Oliva, quoted p.95

I asked whether absentee landlords didn't often treat their land like old-time bonds where all the investor did was clip a coupon and send it in, and she said, It's hard to care about what you don't see. p.193

"Instead of being a blueprint for the ideal [Jeffersonian] democratic social order, the grid system became simply an easy and effective way of dividing up the land." -- J.B.Jackson, quoted p.261

[In their conquest of the Americas, Europeans] overwhelmed stone age people above all with writs -- legal, scientific, ecclesiastical -- although the weapons were the assumptions and attitudes the documents express. p. 596

We turn creation into good or evil, body or soul, man and nature. Change those conjunctions to prepositions and see how the mediaeval disappears -- good beside evil, man in nature, body with soul.... It's our pride that separates us from God, says the Christian, and the ecologist can also say it's pride... that separates us from creation and allows us to believe that only we could possible be the children of God. That belief alone makes us a deadly species. Exploitation is the fruit of pride and greed, and its consequence is extinction. p.619

Canadians will enjoy similar deep-geography meditations in Wallace Stegner's Wolf Willow, Sharon Butala's Country of the Heart, The Perfection of the Morning, and Wild Stone Heart.
On native-white relations and deep-history we recommend J.K.Howard, Strange Empire, Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Victoria Freeman, Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America, and William Eckert's Winning of America series in 6 vols: The Frontiersmen, Wilderness Empire, The Conquerors, The Wilderness War, Gateway to Empire, Twilight of Empire; and A Sorrow in Our Heart: the Life of Tecumseh.

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