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Living Through the End of the World by Paul Wapner - Essay Example

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Book Review: “Living Through The End of The World” by Paul Wapner Name: Class: Date: “The whole notion of wildness is in fact premised on this orientation insofar as it suggests that nature has a particular way about it that is separate from and indifferent to human beings…
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Living Through the End of the World by Paul Wapner
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Download file to see previous pages 6-7) In his important text on the post-modern environmental movement entitled “Living Through The End of The World,” Paul Wapner engages the modern view of nature as something to be dominated and traces this trend to its apotheosis in “the end of nature”. In this manner, he traces the evolution of Western thinking about nature from Descartes to the work of Bill McKibben, who argued that modernity had reached a level where human behavior became an actual threat to the balance of life on the planet. This trend can be seen in the innumerable species of plants and animals that have been forced into extinction or placed on the endangered list due to the increasing population and technological prowess associated with human growth and civilization. Wapner worries about the loss of “wildness,” that part of nature that has consistently be viewed as “other” and outside of humanity’s conscious will and control. Wapner builds this argument from Thoreau, who wrote, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” (Wapner, 2010, p.4) Thus, the heart of his argument is that human civilization and technology have progressed to such a level of ubiquity in the land, sea, and sky that there is hardly any true “wildness” remaining. ...
This is seen in the extension of roads, airplanes, ships, and other forms of transportation which replace the natural trails our ancestors walked in mythologies at one with nature. The difference between Native American and modern American civilization probably illustrates these changes most starkly, but the same effects are seen worldwide. Nuclear power and weapons threaten the destruction of all life in the environment, even the possibility of a nuclear winter that could be an extinction event for large numbers of species and plants. Because nuclear energy is widely considered the “pinnacle” of modern civilization, in its destructive power and unleashing of energy by splitting the atom, it is also an example of modernism that can be most extremely contrasted in its destruction with the traditional way of living harmoniously with nature by sustaining it. Wapner elevates “the feral” as an archetypal example of the wild and those parts of our planet not domesticated my humans. (Wapner, 2010, p.41) Similarly, he contrasts spontaneity with the scheduled and regulated nature of modern society. In this manner, the potential loss of quality in human civilization can become an issue, as certain integral relationships with plants, animals, and natural forces have been lost to humans existing in almost a completely artificial and media-driven environment daily. Wapner seeks in the feral aspects of a primordial relationship which elude empirical control of human civilization, for these processes themselves would not be considered natural if they are part of human will or ego-centric lifestyles and able to be twisted to our self-serving desires. The return to wildness or the feral elements of nature also relates to enchantment ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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