Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!


Sarah Cunningham's picture

I was feeling confused-- what did Gary Snyder actually say? What did he mean by unnatural writing? It's so curious how different people can read the same text and come away with quite different things. What I loved about the "unnatural writing" essay was the thesis that language is wild just as nature is wild-- that language is in fact a part of nature, and is most satisfying and true when practiced and honed, but not over-tamed or over-civilized, that the highest art of language is letting it be wild and complex and multi-layered, as nature is. "Diverse, ancient, and full of information." To me his exhortation to let the dark decaying side be part of this was only one facet of being wild and free. So I went back and re-read the article. He says, "''wild' is a name for the way that phenomena continually actualize themselves." But nowhere in the piece (I have just read it for a third time) does Snyder say what he means by "unnatural writing". In fact I'm quite baffled by the title. It doesn't fit the piece at all.

I want to propose that an essential part of Deep Ecology is not only how we treat nature, but how we treat ourselves. If we are in a continual mode of scolding and instructing ourselves, we can never appreciate or partake of our own innate wildness. First listening to ourselves, and then entering into the flow of our own process: that is how our awareness of what is around us can flower, and how we can become aware of how totally we are part of the process that is unfolding all around AND inside of us: no separation. To be fully conscious of oneself, WITHOUT separating: that is what I call enlightenment-- and yes, it includes endarkenment! Because it also means being aware that we are mostly unconscious, and learning to relish the surprising gleams and flashes that come through out of the dark parts.