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Re: Essay by John Muir

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Essay by John Muir
April 22, 2013 04:53PM
'Going to the Woods Is Going Home'

What better essay to read on Earth Day than one by the father of modern American environmentalism?

John Muir Apr 22 2013, 1:56 PM ET

Sierra Club founder and nature writer John Muir spent years in the Yosemite Valley, an area he was instrumental in preserving as a state park, before it finally became the Yosemite National Park we know today. Muir was a great lover of the essays of fellow nature-lover Ralph Waldo Emerson, and was delighted when the transcendentalist showed up in Yosemite with some friends on a Western adventure in 1871. Below is an essay by Muir on the stunning beauty of the Sierra Nevada, his encounter with his Emerson, and his joy in showing Emerson around his great love: the Yosemite Valley. It also contains his bitter disappointment that his aged idol was unable to appreciate the trees of the area as he did, and that his Boston friends hurried him along. The piece was published by The Atlantic Monthly in April of 1900.


http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/going-to-the-woods-is-going-home/275179/
Re: Essay by John Muir
April 22, 2013 05:18PM
I love reading John Muir and this essay makes me yearn for the trees and the smell of pine. Thank you for posting.
Re: Essay by John Muir
April 22, 2013 08:57PM
I think that there was more going on here than just Muir being dissappointed in Emerson's response to the trees. Emerson was quite old when he came. Muir was the younger upstart. Muir had more of a scientific bent than Emerson, the transcendentalist. Note Muir's somewhat dismissive remark in this essay about Emerson's philosophy. Muir was always the scientist when out and about--remember that he was the first to arrive at the theory of glaciation in the Sierras. He had a different eye than Emerson.

I may be reading too much into this, but in this encounter I sense a definite Oedipal rivalry between Emerson and Muir playing out on Muir's part, at least. Muir keeps goading Emerson to spend the night outdoors with him under the trees. Emerson and his entourage demur; Emerson is old and frail. Muir could have kept company indoors with Emerson that evening--and who would have wanted to miss that opportunity!-- but instead went off by himself to spend the night alone outdoors, where he almost scathingly dismisses the famous nature lovers from back east. Here he is, under the trees and stars; there's Emerson, in a hotel room. So who's the man of nature now? Muir claims to be happier in his situation; but again, he's missing out conversing with Emerson for the evening.

It wouldn't surprise me if something unreported happened between these two, and Muir's pride was hurt. The Boston elite surrounding Emerson run into this seeming yahoo Muir, who enthusiastically wants to show them around...you can see how things might not work out.

But who knows? Fun to speculate though.
Re: Essay by John Muir
April 22, 2013 09:33PM
Since we are speculating,...They might have had some rivalry but by Freud's definition it would not have been Oedipal rivalry unless they were competing for the attention of the trees (parents in Freud's world). I viewed the essay more like a kid having a toy (Yosemite) that he is excited about and wants to share it with a friend and is disappointed that the friend is not as interested in the toy as he is. Since Transcendentalists believed in the importance of a direct relationship with God and with nature, I can see why Muir idolized Emerson and why he would be disappoined when Emerson did not want to share the Yosemite experience with Muir. If you want to go with acting like a child theory then Muir acted like a child by staying outside by himself and basically pouting.

Next topic - significance of the floating eyeglasses in Great Gatsby. Sorry, I have been helping my son with his English homework too much.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/22/2013 09:35PM by parklover.
avatar Re: Essay by John Muir
April 23, 2013 12:21AM
Quote
hegel

I may be reading too much into this, but in this encounter I sense a definite Oedipal rivalry between Emerson and Muir playing out on Muir's part, at least. Muir keeps goading Emerson to spend the night outdoors with him under the trees. Emerson and his entourage demur; Emerson is old and frail. Muir could have kept company indoors with Emerson that evening--and who would have wanted to miss that opportunity!-- but instead went off by himself to spend the night alone outdoors, where he almost scathingly dismisses the famous nature lovers from back east. Here he is, under the trees and stars; there's Emerson, in a hotel room. So who's the man of nature now? Muir claims to be happier in his situation; but again, he's missing out conversing with Emerson for the evening.

If Emerson was old and frail at the time of his Yosemite visit, I doubt that Muir would have missed out on an opportunity to converse with Emerson that evening, since old and frail people tend to retire early in the evening and go to bed as soon as it's possible. The best time to converse with Emerson would have been in the morning around breakfast. smiling smiley

.
avatar Re: Essay by John Muir
April 23, 2013 07:28AM
My take is simply he is disappointed in Emerson's party.

One major thing that I find amusing is simply that most of the
article is about Muir's love of the trees and that the lumber
companies are not interested in The Sierra.
He wrote his essay in 1900, died in 1914, and in a
very short time after that... well... the lumber companies
went to town in the areas which he was writing about.

The publisher is pretty much just fooling you for highlighting
"Had the Sierra forests been cheaply accessible, the most valuable of them
commercially would ere this have fallen a prey to the lumberman."
because plain and simply... that is what has happened.

If interested you can look here:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,49073,61922#msg-61922

The forests are recovering though...



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Essay by John Muir
April 24, 2013 02:58PM
Quote
hegel
Muir could have kept company indoors with Emerson that evening--and who would have wanted to miss that opportunity!-- but instead went off by himself to spend the night alone outdoors

Go take another look - that's not what the article says. Come to that, various other comments in this thread don't seem to bear much relation to Muir's words
Re: Essay by John Muir
April 23, 2013 11:06AM
I want to like Muir's writing, but I always find his anthropomorphic comments off-putting. No doubt he loved these mountains, and did wonderful things for them, and us. But there are other writers I prefer.



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