Outlandish Dwelling: “The Raven,” Part Last

Returning from the flurry of the start of the semester, I want to consider the close of Coleridge’s “The Raven” (much as Tim has now brought to a close his wonderful readings of “The Rime”).  When we last left our bird, he’d returned to the oak—now “grown a tall oak tree”—and brought along with him a “She.”  The pair built themselves “a nest in the topmost bough, / And young ones they had, and were happy enow.”  But avian tragedy ensues in full, dramatic measure:

But soon came a Woodman in leathern guise,
His brow, like a pent-house, hung over his eyes.
He’d an axe in his hand, not a word he spoke,
But with many a hem! and a sturdy stroke,
At length he brought down the poor Raven’s own oak.
His young ones were killed; for they could not depart,
And their mother did die of a broken heart.

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Hi again. Why am I not in favor of ecological apocalypticism (or in fact of any form apocalypticism)?

It's just not good for ecological being-together. If your view is that the world is ending (and soon), then why worry, why bother?

I think it also marshals the masochism and sadism we sublimate in elegy: in ecological apocalypticism, we witness our deaths, from an impossible future vantage point.

Frank Zappa's words about religious war could also apply to ecological disaster, and the long-term, no-gratifiation energy it will take to deal with it:


Quotation of the week from my man Thomas Merton.

This is apopros of Sarah Palin, Pentacostalism, and the prospect of another end times apocalypticist in control of the planet.

This is where the ecological rubber meets the road folks! Are you registered to vote yet?

Here is my favorite part of a favorite essay, called “The Moral Theology of the Devil”:

as might be expected, the moral theology of the devil grants an altogether unusual amount of importance to … the devil. Indeed one soon comes to find out that he is the very center of the whole system. That he is behind everything. That he is moving everybody in the world except ourselves. That he is out to get even with us. And that there is every chance of his doing so because, it now appears, his power is equal to that of God, or even perhaps superior to it …

In one word, the theology of the devil is purely and simply that the devil is god.

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The ecological thought—ecologocentric insert

Hi again.

School starts soon (quarter system). I returned from the retreats. And I'm finishing an essay called “Ecologocentrism: Unworking Animals,” for SubStance.

All feeble excuses for my not yet posting my final thoughts on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

They're about the sheer “thereness” of existence, its density—what “world” subsumes and half erases. And its relation to intimacy.

I've been getting some excellent feedback on my first draft of The Ecological Thought.

The SubStance essay is a study of Solaris, the incredible science fiction story of a psychologist's encounter with a radically other mind.

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Romantic Ecomorphism

Global warming may be the first environmental crisis to affect all life on earth at the same time, in equally dramatic ways. The Romans apparently raised the level of airborne lead-and subsequently the lead level in soil and waterways-because of the amount of lead smelting they practiced. But before global warming, every earlier environmental crisis had an impact on relatively small groups of creatures or species in relatively small geographic areas. Think Love Canal or Three Mile Island.

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Little fly

Okay--I'm on this silent retreat and I shouldn't even be writing this, but what the hey.

So I'm sitting in the meditation hall today and this small house fly lands on my hand. It puts its little proboscis down onto me. I can feel it going a little into my flesh. Yuck. And ouch! So after a few seconds I wave it off.

Of course everything I've said about the neighbor comes flooding into my mind. Not to mention Ash's post on Blake's fly. And lo, my thoughtless hand has indeed brushed it away...

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Question up for comments: Ecology and Nostalgia

I'm hoping blog readers might be willing to post their take on this basic issue haunting ecological criticism: how susceptible is ecocriticism to the critique that it is a nostalgia? Follow up: in what ways might ecocriticism work outside of nostalgia?

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Ecomorphism and Ecoromanticism

Ecomorphism is the antithesis of anthropomorphism. Instead of seeing myself at the center of my world, I can now see my human activity—and yours—in terms of our connectedness to nonhuman life. For centuries the poets have said, “that mourning dove is singing a song as sad as I am sad” or “that cloud looks as happy the way I am happy as it skitters across the sky.” Now we need to reconsider both the tenor and the vehicle of such anthropomorphic metaphors. The vehicle is the subject—humans—from which the characteristic (sadness or happiness) is taken.

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