The American frontier

CapturePisanello (c. 1395 – c. 1455)

The concept of conservation is a far truer sign of civilization than that spoliation of a continent which we once confused with progress.
Wildlife in America

We have outsmarted ourselves, like greedy monkeys, and now we are full of dread.
The Snow Leopard

Wild northern Alaska is one of the last places on earth where a human being can kneel down and drink from a wild stream without being measurably more poisoned or polluted than before; its heart and essence is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge  in the remote northeast corner of the state, the earth’s last sanctuary of the great Ice Age fauna that includes all three North American bears, gray wolves and wolverines, musk ox, moose, and, in the summer, the Porcupine River herd of caribou, 120,000 strong. Everywhere fly sandhill cranes and seabirds, myriad waterfowl and shorebirds, eagles, hawks, owls, shrikes and larks and longspurs, as well as a sprinkling of far-flung birds that migrate to the Arctic slope to breed and nest from every continent on earth. Yet we Americans, its caretakers, are still debating whether or not to destroy this precious place by turning it over to the oil industry for development.
The New York Review of Books, October 19, 2006  

There’s an elegiac quality in watching American wilderness go, because it’s our own myth, , that’s deteriorating before our eyes. I feel a deep sorrow that my kids will never get to see what I’ve seen, and their kids will see nothing; there’s a deep sadness whenever I look at nature now.
Wildlife in America


Peter Matthiessen
(May 22, 1927 – April 5, 2014)

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. In praise of or homage to Peter Matthiessen, his words have said it all most eloquently. We have consciously failed our world.

  2. …and I agree

  3. HOLY MOLY. Talk about depressing…. 🙂

    • Well, it’s the ultimate upset, so it’s certainly the most upsetting subject I can imagine. I guess you haven’t heard me on a rant. He is not that sort of person. He was a great adventurer, beautiful writer, meditated and followed Zen teachings, had exciting friendships, made a brave cultural impact, and attracted gorgeous adventurous wives. We are only alike in our despair on this front, and, like my father, he saw it underway long ago.


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