By Robert Pogue Harrison
During this wide-ranging exploration of the function of forests in Western inspiration, Robert Pogue Harrison enriches our figuring out not just of the forest's position within the cultural mind's eye of the West, but additionally of the ecological dilemmas that now confront us so urgently. regularly insightful and fantastically written, this paintings is mainly compelling at a time while the wooded area, as a resource of ask yourself, recognize, and which means, disappears day-by-day from the earth.
"Forests is among the so much impressive essays at the human position in nature i've got ever learn, and belongs at the small shelf that comes with Raymond Williams' masterpiece, The kingdom and the City. Elegantly conceived, fantastically written, and powerfully argued, [Forests] is a version of scholarship at its passionate top. nobody who cares approximately cultural heritage, concerning the human position in nature, or concerning the way forward for our earthly domestic, should still leave out it.—William Cronon, Yale Review
"Forests is, between different issues, a piece of scholarship, and certainly one of tremendous worth . . . person who now we have wanted. it may be learn and reread, further to and commented on for it slow to come."—John Haines, The ny instances booklet Review
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Extra info for Forests: The Shadow of Civilization
This, then, is how Artemis appears, or refuses to appear, in the mythologies: invisible, intangible, enigmatic, cruel, reigning over the nonhuman reaches of the wilderness. As virgin of the woodlands, she withdraws behind the forest's shadows into her noumenal realm where human beings cannot, or must not, have access. Her virginity does not suggest so much asexuality as the primordial chastity of this sylvan retreat. The Greek myth of Actaeon dramatizes in an unforgettable way this prohibitive, inviolable nature of Artemis.
Here we have a surrender of individuality and a way of entering another character. Such magic transformation is the presupposition of all dramatic art. In this magic transformation the Dionysian 32 C HAP T E RON E reveler sees himself as satyr [man of the woods], and as a satyr, in turn, he sees the god, which means that in his metamorphosis he beholds another vision outside himself, as the Apollinian complement of his own state. With this new vision the drama is complete. (The Birth of Tragedy, 64) Here too metamorphosis is bound to the forest, which, as we remarked in the last section, preserves the original affiliations that enable individual forms to give way to one another in a promiscuous confusion of identities.
One day the god appears, no one knows from where, but from afar, and the city loses its mind. Piety, laws, and the civic order break down before his epiphany. Thrown into a state of agitation by the presence of the god, the women rush from their homes and make their way in swarms to the mountains. Out of their houses, out of their city, out of their minds-they go into the forests. Here they wear ivy or oak wreaths on their heads and dress in fawnskins. Snakes, coiled around the fur, lick their cheeks.
Forests: The Shadow of Civilization by Robert Pogue Harrison