Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Technology Thoreau Might Like

Day Two of the Willoughby Fellowship and already I have some strong opinions. My fear is that the time spent getting up to speed on technology will be time taken away--for students and for me--from the time we will need to read and write and think and learn about the academic topics under discussion. So here I sit spending hours learning about Blackboard and Tweeting and control panels and optimal settings when I should be thinking about HDT in the Maine Woods, or Emerson reflecting on the rights of nonwhite humans, or the nineteenth-century sources of our twenty-first century ideas about our environment, ecology, and the fate of a planet that existed long before we were here and will exist long after we are gone. The anthropocentrism of our species is the key to most of our problems. Replacing anthropocentrism with ecocentrism will be the goal of this blog, of the course that emerges from this blog, and of the texts and discussions that will be the lasting result of our efforts. Thoreau said, "In wildness is the preservation of the world." Not wilderness, WILDNESS, and that difference makes all the difference. Wildly yours---A.N.


Ed Webb said...

Is not this brave new world we are exploring in the Willoughby institute a new ecology? And parts of it do have a certain frontier wildness. I think Thoreau might have blogged. Although he would probably have built his own blog infrastructure out of bits of open-source code he gathered around the place. Twitter seems more in the German aphoristic mode to me: Nietzsche, Benjamin, Adorno.

Ashton Nichols said...

Ed: Of course you are right. One key is that inner "wildness," not outer "wilderness," interested Thoreau most. The first chapter of Walden is as much about its author' learning and his reading as it is about any "objective" vision of the natural world. Within the first chapter, "Economy," Thoreau refers to the Sandwich Islanders, Deucalion and Pyrrha, Raleigh, Evelyn, Hippocrates, Confucius, Darwin on Tierra del Fuego, Salem Harbor, Hanno and the Phoenicians, and St. Petersburg, Russia. This is a book about other books, about history, biography, philosophy, farming, and comparative religion as much as it is a book about "nature." Nietzsche would approve. Ash

jaysonwithaY said...

He shoots...he scores! Nice goal Ashton.