The Coyote is not inside you: Gary Snyder's ecopoetry and Neo-Aristotelian thought

Title: The Coyote is not inside you: Gary Snyder's ecopoetry and Neo-Aristotelian thought
Author: Zazula, Piotr
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2013, vol. 39, iss. 1, pp. [243]-265
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

Close-reading selected poems and essays by Gary Snyder, the article examines an apparent epistemological contradiction in Snyder's environmentalist message. As a rule Snyder consistently relies on essentialist discourse, what with his frequent references to human nature, the collective unconscious, mankind's generic identity and man's inner voice. In the poem "The Call of the Wild," however, he questions man's ability to retrieve a "natural" generic core through, say, meditation or vision quests. This apparent contradiction is resolved when one views Snyder's work through the lens of Neo-Aristotelian thought as exemplified by G.E.M. Anscombe's, Martha Nussbaum's, and Terry Eagleton's concepts of human nature. To these philosophers, like to Aristotle, human nature is not a static biological given, but rather a mental predisposition. Thus it is more of a task, or challenge, than a set of characteristics. Making the most of one's humanity is to Neo-Aristotelians comparable to "flourishing" (the metaphor they often use) as a human being. Such ideas resonate with Snyder's concepts of ever-changing human nature and, most importantly, with his conceptual metaphor of the wilderness as Nature's climactic state of being (the "climax" metaphor being clearly comparable to that of "flourishing").
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