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maht91's picture

At the beginning of the

At the beginning of the class, we also discussed the conversation that Prof. Anne started with her reply and comments on our papers. She invited us to engage in the conversation by reading each other papers and commenting on them.

Then we went on to talking about Rebecca Solnit and A Field Guide to Getting Lost. We discussed that Solnit wanted us to get lost, but most people don't want or don't enjoy the experience of getting lost. One classmate suggested that the task of finding yourself is harder than losing yourself. I agree with it because you can engage in a conversation and get lost intellectually for instance, but finding your way out and making sense of what just happened is the harder task. I also think that the experience of finding yourself is the more rewarding experience since it is the experience when you discover your interests and improve your thinking skills. Two students focused on the idea of getting lost intellectually, and how it is rewarding and satisfying to be lost intellectually because the outcome outweighs the experience of getting lost. One student suggested that if a person is physically focused, it is easier to get lost metaphorically.

We next moved on to talk about believing and disbelieving what Naess said in his book The Ecology of Wisdom. We discussed how it included transition from essay to essay and from talking about personal stories to broader ideas. The fun part is when we all got to share our favorite idea from the essays and summarizing them as bullet points. EVD summarized our bullet points above.

We then posed the question: What is Deep Ecology? We compared deep (Every human being has the right to blossom) versus shallow (Looking only at a human level). One student said that it is hard to write a book about nature especially that Naess is a human. Others said that people might feel resistant to Naess's book because he is telling people what to think. I think that each one of us can interpret the book differently, we could just read what Naess said, think about it, but the final decision belongs to us. We might, of course, be affected by what Naess says, but the final say is ours and we dictate how to live our lives. Prof. Anne proposed the question, is Naess trying to tell us how to live? In response to that, one student said that we don't have to agree with what Naess is saying, but we have to be aware of our actions, and try to lesson them if they negatively affect nature.

A discussion topic that Prof. Anne proposed concerns the structure of the book as a whole and where does Naess locate himself. One student said that in the beginning pages, Naess describes his life, where he lived, and where he hunted. The idea of satisfying vital needs was brought up suggesting that we only need to satisfy our vital needs and there is no need to go further. In response to that, one student said, don't we all like living with more than our vital needs met! This is true of most people, which perhaps does not agree with Naess's ideas all the way.

The next discussion topic that was proposed was the places in the new world. We discussed how Naess started with his real experiences in the real world. He started with a personal movement of self, to principles of a larger movement.

Again, the idea that Naess is only sharing his personal opinion came up again. One student said that we don't have to abide by what Naess is saying, he is simply sharing his opinion about the life he lived, and that does not necessarily mean that we have to live our lives that way he lived his.

We also discussed the relationship between ecology and Buddhism and how detached and connected the two are. Professor Anne said that there is no permanent self. A student suggested that an observer can change the situation. Also, the idea that removing ourselves from the world is a fantasy was an interesting issue.

Finally, we went on to comparing Naess to the previous writers we talked about beginning of the semester. First, Bechdel vs. Naess vs. Shields, of the three, Shields is the one who is recycling ideas from other people. Bechdel vs. Naess, Bechdel was not big enough, or not abstract enough compared to Naess. Naess took it to the next level, to a larger and broader movement of principles. As for Solnit vs. Naess, both of them value place attachment.

From our class discussion, I think that we can treat Shields and Naess the same in the sense that we don't need to accept what they are saying as truth. We don't need to accept what Naess is saying about the steps we need to take to rescue the earth if those steps don't agree with our goals and ways of living. On a similar note, we don't need to accept what Shields is saying about ignoring the boundaries and copyrights. Shields just gave us his opinions and his ideas about the way he sees things, I don't need to reject what he said, but read it and consider it. We can read and get lost with the ideas that we are reading; those of Shields and/or Naess, it is okay to get lost, as Solnit wants us to, because in the end, the reward is when we find ourselves and learn. Both Bechdel and Naess shared their stories with the audience, how life was for them, and invited the reader into their minds and life experiences, perhaps, the reader can connect somehow with what they are reading.



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