"Deep ecology was marked by a new kind of humility -- a new assumption that we two-leggeds were entirely a part of the intricate web of life -- and by a new wish to reflect and to act without violating our responsibility as plain citizens of the biotic community. The other side of this humility was a steady wonder in the face of a world that exceeds all our designs, the delicious and sometimes terrifying awareness of being human in a much more-than-human world..."
"If we really are corporeally embedded in the cosmos we see and sense around us, carnally situated in the midst of this earthly plenum, than we encounter the real only from within the depths of itself, and hence each aspect that we meet hides other aspects behind it. Sure, there are many facets or forces of the world that we can name -- sun, soil, and cliff, bear and bird, full moon and sickle moon, cloud, rain, river. Yet the very presence of these beings in the same field that we ourselves inhabit entails that there are aspects of each that we do not see; every visible facet of the world speaks to us of dimensions that are not visible..."
RECIPROCITY AND THE SALMON
"My first encounter with spawning salmon gleams with a cool, moonlit radiance in my memory. I'd grown up in the suburban east coast and knew nothing of this wild fish and its mysterious ways. It was in the mid-eighties, and I was kayaking in the Prince William Sound a year or two before the taut, ever-shifting surface of that life-filled sea was generously layered with a glistening blanket of oil by the Exxon company..."
Wildness is the earthy, untamed, undomesticated state of things -- open-ended, improvisational, moving according to its own boisterous logic. That which is wild is not really out of control; it is simply out of our control. Wildness is not a state of disorder, but a condition whose order is not imposed from outside. Wild land follows its own order, its own Tao, its own inherent way in the world.
Wilderness, a related term, has in the modern era come to be equated with land that is pristine, uninhabited by humans, and unaffected by human artifice. Such a narrow definition assumes, however, that humans are not a part of nature, and that our species has no wildness of its own. A broader definition might equate wilderness with land that is untouched by modern humankind, unaffected by technological civilization. But is such an ideal landscape to be found anywhere today? Has not technological civilization spread its influence unto every corner of the planet? Rapid climate change, itself a result of the profligate burning of fossil fuel for human convenience, is by now altering organic life in every region of the biosphere. Hence unadulterated wilderness, free of all taint from civilization, can no longer be said to exist.
Yet at the very same historical moment when wilderness, in that pristine sense, is vanishing from the world, a new and unexpected recognition is slowly arising that there is no place that is not wild! It is now becoming apparent that there exists no place on earth where an exclusively human logic holds complete sway over things – there is no realm (not even the mental terrain of our thoughts) that falls completely under conscious human control.
Indeed, the new sciences of “chaos” and “complexity” demonstrate that even the simplest and most ubiquitous phenomena -- the air currents, for instance, in the room where you sit reading this, including the small vortices made by your breath as it slips in and out of your nostrils – enact dynamic patterns that we can never precisely predict, even if we were to know all of the knowable parameters. The slow metamorphosis of a storm-cloud, the halting trajectory of a raindrop down a windowpane, the precise micro-moment of your next heartbeat -- all of these happenings exceed the determinative or predictive power of even the most sophisticated science. They are, in other words, wild. They are not entirely out of control; they are simply out of our control, beyond our ability to fully map with our theories or fully fathom with our thoughts.
Human creativity and craft, when practiced in attentive, participatory attunement with the earthly locale, can also be deeply wild. Indeed human culture can be beneficial not only to ourselves but to the wild, more-than-human reality that enfolds and sustains us. Such are the forms of culture that the Alliance for Wild Ethics seeds and encourages -- practices that draw human groups into ever deeper accord with the exuberant nature that surrounds them, enabling community to thrive in reciprocity with a flourishing terrain. Wild culture accords well with a wild-flourishing Earth!