I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Thursday, 2 August 2007

John Muir

I've been thinking about John Muir since yesterday's brief mention of him. I suppose he's the most famous conservationist of all, creating as he did the American National Park system. In 1892 he founded the Sierra Club. A complicated and at times difficult man, he was a hugely influential and multi-talented Renaissance figure: writer, lecturer, teacher, inventor, geologist, a scientist with religious leanings... When young he walked throughout much of the USA and Canada, taking odd jobs to support himself along the way. I have a big 900 page book of his Nature Writings published by The Library of America, but quite honestly I've only ever skimmed brief bits as it can be dauntingly verbose. I think he's probably best read when his prose is condensed into a shorter, more quotable style - though instances are hard to find. I like this: Most people are on the world, not in it; have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them - undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.

1 comment:

Loren said...

Cantankerous is a word that often seems applicable to those absolutely devoted to preserving American wilderness.

I've sometimes used the word "flatlanders" when I've dropped down from a walk in the mountains to hordes of tourists gathered a few feet from the freeway entrance to the park.