A Secondary Review on Leisure: the Basis of Culture

 

a wonderful excerpt:

Today, in our culture of productivity-fetishism, we have succumbed to the tyrannical notion of “work/life balance” and have come to see the very notion of “leisure” not as essential to the human spirit but as self-indulgent luxury reserved for the privileged or deplorable idleness reserved for the lazy. And yet the most significant human achievements between Aristotle’s time and our own — our greatest art, the most enduring ideas of philosophy, the spark for every technological breakthrough — originated in leisure, in moments of unburdened contemplation, of absolute presence with the universe within one’s own mind and absolute attentiveness to life without, be it Galileo inventing modern timekeeping after watching a pendulum swing in a cathedral or Oliver Sacks illuminating music’s incredible effects on the mind while hiking in a Norwegian fjord.

The most profound achievements of the human mind stem from “down time”, meditation sessions, or things of the sort. This is something I have always believed and lived…. most of the time sub-consciously. I have never felt intellectually aroused sitting in a classroom of 20 + students in a public high school, and rarely at the mid- sized state university I attended for four years. When I did feel that I was cerebrally (is that a word?) ascending up the ladder of intelligence, I was most of the time daydreaming. Or browsing through photos on some blog, imagining a lifestyle I could be creating.

 

“So how did we become so conflicted cultivating a culture of leisure?”

 

 

 

 

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Go Explore! (final thoughts)

Over the course of this class, we have discussed everything from the hippie movement to Mount Everest. I wanted to talk a little bit about my opinions throughout the course. While learning about so many people’s views on wilderness ethics, I decided to create my own. 

First, the issue of preservation is important. We talked about Muir, Pinchot, and Nash’s opinions regarding preservation versus conservation. I can relate to Muir’s point of view more than Pinchot’s in their debate. Muir focused on environmental preservation rather than conservation. I believe wilderness should be protected and our natural resources should be saved for when we desperately need them. He said wilderness should be protected to enjoy it, not to use up its’ resources. This is Muir’s wilderness philosophy as well as mine. 

Adding to Muir’s wilderness ethic, he wanted people to go to the wilderness to see it and protect it, however if too many people visit it will get to the point of being loved to death. He called this the “irony of victory”. This i think can be related to modern civilization. Today, people act as if they are saving the wilderness by making donations to conservation organizations, when they really don’t know where that money is going and they never actually go to the wilderness. Also, as I mentioned in my previous post, the government targets our most important values as humans; the love of nature, to sell products to people. There will be a photo of endangered tigers in Africa on a car advertisement billboard. This kind of thing is what I have realized is such a paradox in American culture. Muir got me thinking about this issue in the articles of his and Pinchot’s wilderness debate. 

Another topic where my opinion has evolved is the ethics of Deep Ecology. Throughout the course, I noticed myself thinking in the way of Arnae Naess before learning about Deep Ecology. Putting nature before humans seems like a great way to keep wilderness valued and protected. “Think globally, act globally” was the basis for every opinion I had before this class. However, now I realize that Deep Ecology is too far- fetched of an idea right now. Deep ecology puts nature before everything human, and that just is not possible to do in today’s culture. After reading Guha’s input about deep ecology, it changed my opinion. He says that the aspects of deep ecology would be detrimental to the human race and is simply a trend of the conservation movement.

I think people want to think in the way of deep ecology, like I did, but what we really need to do is move in small steps toward conservation of the wilderness, starting with intrinsic views in life. There is value in every land on earth, not just National Parks.

We cannot just simply throw away our material things and values as humans to let wilderness be reborn. It just wouldn’t work that way. 

So, what I think we need to work towards as humans is realizing what Cronon suggests in his writing- that we are a part of wilderness and we live in it. We need to appreciate the tree in our backyard as much as the canyons out west. We need to realize that we ARE nature. Living sustainably and with minimum material requirements is the best way to start on the road to complete wilderness conservation. 

What I can take away from this course is the simple fact to keep on loving wilderness in your own way- but don’t get caught up in all this popular culture hype that only minimizes nature in the end. Remember that wilderness is something much bigger and wilder than we can ever be as a civilization, and we were put on this planet among this beauty for a reason. And that reason is to explore and respect where we live in every way.

 

This short clip with one of my favorites- Bill Nye, explains how exploring the earth benefits us a species in every aspect. The more we discover, the more humble we become. Also, he explains that exploring stimulates the economy, which is good for the material part of our human race.

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I hope you enjoyed my posts throughout these 5 weeks! Thanks for reading, and go explore!!

 

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Extreme Accessibility

This week in RMP we have focused on the overuse of wilderness and the philosophy behind wilderness recreation. An important question this week is “should these new extreme activities be allowed in the wilderness?” The first thing that came to mind when I thought about this question was wingsuit flying. It is the most extreme thing I have ever seen any human do. Its amazing what people can do when they overcome fear. I believe that extreme activities like white water rafting, climbing, base jumping, skydiving, and wingsuiting are amazing and should continue to progress; but in a sustainable way.

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When the desire to participate in these activities increases, their meanings will change with time. The same thing happened to the wilderness- with the rise of transportation, intellectual, equipment and information revolutions which provided Americans with easier access to wilderness areas along with all the information and gear needed to travel around these places.

Every aspect of the wilderness is eventually going to be overexposed in my opinion. We are only getting closer to each other each day with advancements in every technology. It is human nature to want to explore, and I think people want to become better connected with the earth and with their own bodies as well. What I think this means for the future of extreme sports is that they will only become more popular.

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This can be a good thing or a bad thing. If we have groups of people in the future jumping off of cliffs and video cameras streaming every jump, this is the point where I think wilderness will be loved to death. As Nash mentions, there should be some wonder and unknown in the wilderness and if public areas form within it, the wildness of nature is totally lost. Eric Julber’s “access philosophy” supports public access to the wilderness. Nash mentions his philosophy to conclude that the nature Julber loved was not wild-he confused scenic beauty with wildness. Julber’s philosophy can relate enormously to present day civilized culture in America. His philosophy is basically the central idea of what most of today’s culture revolves around. You see “nature” on Television and included in every advertisement, but it is just a paradox. All that the government wants is money- and they penetrate into the deepest values of humanity: the love of nature- to get what they want.

With all of this hype about extreme sports, few people are actually getting out and participating. I think this is because it is somewhat difficult to actually get out and do things like wingsuiting especially, because you need special training, physical and a lot of mental strength, and unfortunately, money. I would say that is a bad thing, but for now I think the accessibility level is at a good spot. The people that do these things share them in videos- like the one I posted here- and watching the experience is enough for some people. But who knows, extreme sports like this could very well become easier accessible to regular citizens in America in the near future. 

My conclusion to the main question”Should new extreme activities like like base jumping, white water rafting, wingsuiting, etc be allowed in the wilderness?”-is Yes…for now.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWfph3iNC-k

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Preservation is Essential

 

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While reading about conservation and preservation, it got me thinking about my trip out to Zion National Park in Utah and Bryce Canyon. It was about two summers ago when my Dad and other family members hiked Angel’s Landing in Zion. This was probably the most memorable and challenging hike i’ve ever done. The hike was short but almost vertical it was so steep! We needed chains to hoist ourselves up every little foot. At the top, the feeling was so invigorating.

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 What came to mind as I was reading passages about preservation of land, was that feeling I got while on top of Angel’s Landing. The way I felt represented the wonderful relationship that humans can have with nature, and our reasons behind wanting to conserve and protect our lands. I realized that this concept is somewhat difficult and out of the ordinary for people to explain or try to get their point across about. Protecting nature is such an important thing emotionally and spiritually to humans; however people are blinded by the material objects in this world and just don’t understand or care about the wilderness. Once someone finishes a hike like Angel’s Landing, that great accomplished, blissful and powerful feeling will take over and provide a moment of realization and thoughtfulness about our natural landscapes.

While in Utah, we traveled mule-back into beautiful Bryce Canyon in the southwestern part of the state. It was such a cool experience to travel on mules through sand and mud- no pavement to be seen- and cool rock formations called “Hoodoo’s” which the natives would think of as sacred.

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I think we should begin to cut back on our material needs in life and replace those with cravings for adventure and first hand wilderness experiences. No material object can make you feel the way finishing an awesome hike does; or riding on mules through a desert canyon. The preservation of these national parks is the most effective way of getting more people out there to explore and experience these places.

 

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View from the top of Angel’s Landing- Zion National Park

 

 

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Beauty of Yellowstone

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Last June, my family and I explored Yellowstone National Park. The damage from the devastating fire of 1988 was still really visible; it looked like it had just happened. I didn’t realize how long of a process regrowth was. Despite the dead forest, the park was breathtaking. We stopped at the falls and there was this permanent rainbow from the mist of the waterfall. Reading about Nathaniel Langford and his enthusiasm about making Yellowstone a park was really relatable to me. Every corner we turned, there would be huge herds of buffalo. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I actually got bout 10 feet away from a mother buffalo and her baby sun bathing by a river.

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The geysers were wonderful, too. We saw old faithful which was a cool experience. The geysers and hot   springs throughout the park are unlike anything I have ever seen and look like something of another planet. The water in these natural “pools” was literally bubbling and looked like clear blue in ground hot tubs.

The only thing about National Parks is that I sometimes wish that they weren’t so tourist-y. I understand that these places are amazing and everybody should get a chance to see it, but sometimes the large crowds leave you more separated from nature then you expect to be before you visit. The fences and boardwalks that lead you through the parks really don’t feel natural, but don’t get me wrong, not every single part of the park is like that. I’m sure Nathanial Langford would be pretty satisfied about how the National Park idea has developed.

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Nature as a part of Wilderness

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Nature is what composes the wilderness. From dirt to trees to lakes, nature surrounds us everywhere we are. In my opinion, wilderness has several meanings. It can be both a feeling and a place. Wilderness is the unknown as well as places we can visit on earth. What makes something not a wilderness is major human influence on the natural land. Sure, I guess a city could be considered a wilderness, but I would call it man-made. The natural wilderness is untouched and minimally influenced by humans. Humans are a natural species, but the way we influence the planet differs and contradicts our natural habitat and fellow species in many ways. There are many ways of interacting with our wilderness without hurting or minimizing it. Star gazing can be a magnificent eye opener to the unknown just by simply looking at nature.

Here, astronomers show people the amazing night sky visible from Yosemite National Park in California. Gazing at beauty of the nighttime sky in all of its’ glory is an experience that most  people on earth don’t get to see. In cities and suburbs, the light pollution is so intense that the stars are less visible to the eye. In national parks, light pollution is at a minimum which provides an amazing experience observing wilderness and the unknown. Stars are aspects of nature that, when observed, give the feeling of wilderness.

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