The Case for a Humanized Wilderness

           “In Wildness is the preservation of the World.”

                                                 – Henry David Thoreau

In May of this year, I embarked upon a backpacking trip in the mountains of Northern Argentina, along the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a region famous for its sweeping desert landscapes and indigenous culture. During the trek I was as much captivated by the natural vistas as by the presence of civilization up in the high mountains: the subsistence pastoralists who tread upon the same footpaths carved out by their Incan ancestors. I enjoy hiking in natural environs as a means for adventure and meditation. The contrast between a rugged mountain ridge and the familiar urban conditions in which I’ve grown up is refreshing, and I always seem to stumble upon new insights during the hike back down. However, as a result of my interactions with the pastoralists up in the Quebrada, I cannot help but think something’s missing from my usual wild haunts up in, say, California’s Sierra Nevada… but what could it be? Continue reading

The Sublime Alpine Experience: Reflecting on Adventures in Patagonia and Beyond

After over a year of uninterrupted living in a very flat country, I was finally able to slip down to the Argentine side of the vast austral wilderness of Patagonia for some hiking and rock climbing at the end of last year, which is to say I was reunited with my preferred geographical setting for exploration: the mountains.


In Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, near Bariloche, Argentina. (Click to enlarge photos.)

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Literature and Self-Identity

Medium Specificity

The medium specificity of literature makes it unique in its ability to convey complex psychological insight through ideas, not only via inner narratives, but the non-tangible dimensionality of description language allows. I’ve identified several areas in which the uniqueness of literature can lay its claim. Literature’s status of an art form makes it part of a wider range of human activities that compose our species specificity — or, rather, a uniquely human impulse. Continue reading

Towards a Naturalized Ontology: Jung’s Psychological Assessment of the Receeding of Religious Projections

While Friedrich Nietzsche pronounced the death of God and critically examined the replacement ontology that followed from a philosophical perspective, Carl Jung provided a psychological perspective for the philosophical paradigm shift towards a de-spiritualized ontology. In Jung’s analysis of the shift from religion to science as the most prominent force in explaining the workings of the world, and man’s role in them, he brings into account the psychological notion of projections. Continue reading

Towards a Naturalized Ontology: Nietzsche’s Death of God and Critique of the Mechanistic Perspective that Follows

In this series, starting with Friedrich Nietzsche’s proclamation of God’s death, I’ll examine the shift towards what could be described as a naturalized understanding of the world — an interpretation lacking in both the religious projections of the spiritual era and the lingering anthropocentric projections of the following scientific, or mechanistic, ontology. Drawing from the works of Nietzsche, Jung, and other thinkers I’ll then propose my own analysis of the progression of naturalization, and how it can be arrived at…


‘God is dead’

In order to interpret man’s relationship with the world around him, both in terms of projection and distinction, the monumental shift from the metaphysical, religious perspective to the naturalized perspective should first be charted, including its most significant event: the death of God. Nietzsche wrote in The Gay Science (full text PDF here) that “God is dead,” and we humans are his murderer (GS Sec. 125). “God” in this case isn’t a personal deity but the God of civilization — the defining explanatory force for how the world operates. According to Nietzsche, the death of God leads to the positive effects of allowing solitude, re-valuation of good things due to the decline of morality (GS Sec. 292), and a dismissal of faith, which once aroused nausea (GS Sec. 76). However, the death of God also leads to “metaphysical need” (GS Sec. 151). The death of God is an indication of the receding of the shadow of religion from its reign over human consciousness — that is, the reduction in the use of religious explanations for how the universe operates and our roles in it. Continue reading

Art and Self-Definition

Art is the subjective modification of the empirical world in a media format, typically inspired, as most personal creations are, by a person’s subjective experience in the world. Humans are constantly creating their own proprietary — though interconnected — worlds through a process of information gathering through their senses —> processing such information through thought —> creating a mental framework for action. Art pushes such modification into the physical realm, perhaps even manifesting in forms humans use in a utilitarian manner to make sense of the world, such as language or pictorial representation. Thus, perceptions are channeled into a form of mental representation, even informing the concept of such things as are perceived, like Plato’s idea of Forms. In turn these representations can be imposed upon a format in its physical manifestation, be it a painter’s canvas, a singer’s voice, a story in a magazine… Continue reading

Epochs of Human-Nature Relations

I’m currently in a rural area of Paraguay. Most people in my community practice subsistence agriculture using hand-tools. Moving here after living in (sub)urban areas of the United States all my life has allowed me some perspective on the ways in which humans interact with their natural environment. Since my job involves promoting sustainable, small-scale agriculture I’ve had a lot of time and context to think about these interactions particularly as they relate to agricultural use of lands, so there’s a particular degree of focus in that area I’ll be exploring in future essays on this blog. For this post, however, I’ve taken a more general approach and divided the historical stages of interactions between humans and their natural environments into five parts: Continue reading