Debunking Some Misconceptions, or Addressing the Opposition

 The following is a slightly edited entry from a Moodle discussion board for Dr. David Stacey's English 611 at Humboldt State University

The Bioregional Classroom 

Instead of furthering an oppressive and deeply flawed system of eurocentric, patriarchal, anthropocentrism, proponents of Deep Ecology, Bioregionalism, and the better informed ecocritics seek an ecology that is relevant and practical to all. Moreover, they propose an ecology that considers not only human beings but one that also takes into account non-human life. When one considers the extremely short history of the human race in relationship to the history of the earth, coupled with the wholesale destruction of species and ecosystems that has often been the direct result of human actions, the "voice" of non humans -- e.g. species whose habitats have disappeared as the direct result of human ignorance and greed -- emerges as the most oppressed voice of all. I'm not proposing that we become Loraxes and "speak for the trees", and I am not proposing that we play the Oppression Olympics; I am merely proposing that a literary theory that considers the broadest array of extra-textual factors -- including environmental, and therefore ecological factors -- is clearly superior because of the scope of factors that it takes into account.

Another mistake commonly made by both well intentioned ecocritics and those who take issue with the very idea of ecocriticism, is to assume that protection, consideration, and veneration of scenic or picturesque landscapes form the central concerns of ecocriticsm. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In his book Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez proposes a scientifically informed aesthetic to replace the traditional western aesthetic that is all too often imposed on landscapes. By blending a scientific approach with traditional cultural narratives relevant to specific landscapes, Lopez defends the value of the Arctic landscape and attacks the common conception of Arctic Wilderness as a barren wasteland. Lopez suggests that by considering scientific knowledge and indigenous place-lore, it is possible to treat natural systems on their own terms. The value of the arctic wilderness serves as a perfect example to clarify the misinformed notion that ecocritics seek to protect nature based on western-european aesthetic notions.

So, the primacy of ecological concerns and reverance for ecosystems comesnot from the idea that wild spaces that humans find aesthetically pleasing are beautiful and therefore right, but rather this reverance comes from an awesome (in the true sense of the word) humility that comes when one realizes one's smallness in relation to all that is.