Saturday, September 09, 2006


Is it just part of the romance of Nature? Or is it a vital human need? Here are a couple of comments from experts:

How many more generations will pass before it will have become nearly impossible to be alone even for an hour, to see anywhere nature as she is without man’s improvements upon her? How long will it be before—what is perhaps worse yet—there is no quietness anywhere, no escape from the rumble and the crash, the clank and the screech which seem to be the inevitable accompaniment of technology? Whatever man does or produces, noise seems to be an unavoidable by-product. Perhaps he can, as he now tends to believe, do anything. But he cannot do it quietly.

Perhaps when the time comes that there is no more silence and no more aloneness, there will also be no longer anyone who wants to be alone.

—Joseph Wood Krutch

In what concerns you much, do not think that you have companions; know that you are alone in the world.

—Henry David Thoreau

Are "Romantic naturalists" an endangered species?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Implications

One "modern naturalist" friend has already questioned the wisdom of resurrecting the "Romantic naturalist" label.

I must confess the phrase conjures none of the images for me that it apparently does for her. Visions of ladies in long white dresses come to her mind; she hears something too dainty, delicate, and feminine to represent what we truly do these days, and thus finds the term unacceptable. She is looking for a strong dynamic verb to describe these explorations and adventures that soothe but never satisfy our curiousity.

Despite my early training, I have never been comfortable calling myself a "scientist." I don't ally myself often with that world view, though I happily subscribe to the knowledge (facts) it brings us. I interpret the facts differently, and I'm looking for connection and relationship where scientists tend to use distance to achieve understanding and control. Does that make me a "naturalist"? Does the phrase "Romantic naturalist" automatically consign us to some sluggish side slough out of the rushing main stream, and if so, is that a bad thing?

As this is exactly the kind of discussion this blog is intended to address, let's do it! What are the implications? Is there a better approach?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Thanks to Donald Worster

The phrase "Romantic naturalists" is a reminder from Donald Worster, who (in his book Nature's Economy) reviews the history and development of ecological thought from Gilbert White to Eugene Odum and perhaps beyond. Worster's presentation on Thoreau, and the contrast he (Worster) outlines between humanism and the approach of the Romantic naturalists is another step on my journey home.

What the world needs (well, one of the things) is more Romantic naturalists!