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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Open Midnight part 2

More passages from the new book Open Midnight by Brooke Williams (pages 91-92)

We seem to be entering phase three of Wilderness designations, involving factors often ignored in the definition of wilderness: "land retaining primeval character and influence" that has "substantially unnoticeable" evidence of human impact, and offers "opportunities for solitude."  ..... Homo sapiens convergi are found on both sides of this issue.  On the right, some see only one aspect of wilderness: big, scenic, untouched areas for which no modern economic use can be found.  On the left, after years and thousands of hours and miles and photographs, there acres those hardcore Wilderness advocates who have converged on the nearly 10 million acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management found to have Wilderness-worthy qualities and are vocally critical of SUWA [Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance] or any organization that might think about settling for anything less.

Did Howard Zahniser and Olaus Murie, the chief architect of the Wilderness Act, consciously create this three-pronged definition for Wilderness in order to give us what we needed at different times in the future, the way a backpacker might leave a food cache on a long expedition?  These phases, for me, define three dimensions of wildness as it applies to life now.  The awe we experience in the presence of massive, iconic wilderness taps into the wild yet hidden parts of us.  Ecologically and geologically diverse wilderness is made up of an infinite series of intact and complex interconnected systems, which, in my view, is one important definition of wildness. And now, the idea of solitude in wilderness areas becomes the focus at a time when we're all facing planetary problems, when we're on the verge of letting the noise of our own technologies drown out the sound of life itself, including possibly undreamed solutions. Solitude, I believe is the connective tissue between the outer wilderness and our inner wildness, where clues to our long-term survival have always been found. [emphasis added]

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