The myth of wilderness, which Stegner knowingly reproduces in these remarks, is that we can somehow leave nature untouched by our passage. Both trees in some ultimate sense are wild; both in a practical sense now depend on our management and care. (Lincoln: Univ. Sunday’s Gospel about the raising of Lazarus points to a supreme irony in the Gospel of John: Jesus’ very act of raising Lazarus from the dead confirms the Jewish temple leaders in their conviction to kill Him. By the eighteenth century this sense of the wilderness as a landscape where the supernatural lay just beneath the surface was expressed in the doctrine of the sublime, a word whose modern usage has been so watered down by commercial hype and tourist advertising that it retains only a dim echo of its former power. Never again would “such gifts of free land offer themselves” to the American people. This will seem a heretical claim to many environmentalists, since the idea of wil- derness has for decades been a fundamental tenet-indeed, a passion-of the envi- ronmental movement, especially in the United States. This, then, is the central paradox: wilderness embodies a dualistic vision in which the human is entirely outside the natural. In the broadest sense, wilderness teaches us to ask whether the Other must always bend to our will, and, if not, under what circumstances it should be allowed to flourish without our intervention. The elite looking to escape the troubles of their hectic daily lives, but in the process the slowly converted it to the place… (19) By fleeing to the outer margins of settled land and society—so the story ran—an individual could escape the confining strictures of civilized life. It is simply the deliberate and chosen refusal to make any marks at all…. The “Wilderness” of nature became a selling point, and nature a place you need a ticket to visit. movement of limbs is pleasure, while the body seems to feel beauty when By the first decade of the twentieth century, in the single most famous episode in American conservation history, a national debate had exploded over whether the city of San Francisco should be permitted to augment its water supply by damming the Tuolumne River in Hetch Hetchy valley, well within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park. In contrast, elite urban tourists and wealthy sportsmen projected their leisure-time frontier fantasies onto the American landscape and so created wilderness in their own image. Vast, Titanic, inhuman Nature has got him at disadvantage, caught him alone, He is more lone than you can imagine …. Meanwhile, its original inhabitants were kept out by dint of force, their earlier uses of the land redefined as inappropriate or even illegal. To do so is merely to take to a logical extreme the paradox that was built into wilderness from the beginning: if nature dies because we enter it, then the only way to save nature is to kill ourselves. He talks about how wilderness is a place where we go to escape the cares and troubles of the world, but how we have lost touch with it. His argument, in short, is that “Wilderness” is a human construct – an idea that can only exist in the context of changing human attitudes and cultural narratives surrounding nature – and that it is this idea of preserving “Wilderness” that … Bill McKibben, The End of Nature (New York: Random House, 1989). (608)265-6023 138, 143. Press, 1956). This will seem a heretical claim to many environmentalists, since the idea of wilderness has for decades been a fundamental tenet—indeed, a passion—of the environmental movement, especially in the United States. The wastelands that had once seemed worthless had for some people come to seem almost beyond price. 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