The Environment of Revelation

“The desert is the environment of revelation, genetically and physiologically alien, sensorily austere, esthetically abstract, historically inimical. … Its forms are bold and suggestive. The mind is beset by light and space, the kinesthetic novelty of the aridity, high temperature, and wind. The desert sky is encircling, majestic, terrible. In other habitats, the rim of sky above the horizontal is broken or obscured; here, together with the overhead portion, it is infinitely vaster than that of rolling countryside and forest lands. … In an unobstructed sky the clouds seem more massive, sometimes grandly reflecting the earth’s curvature on their concave undersides. The angularity of desert landforms imparts a monumental architecture to the clouds as well as to the land. …
desert 2
To the desert go prophets and hermits; through deserts go pilgrims and exiles. Here the leaders of the great religions have sought the therapeutic and spiritual values of retreat, not to escape but to find reality.”

Paul Shepard “Man in the Landscape: A Historic View of the Esthetics of Nature” [University of Georgia Press, 2002]
man-in-the-landscape
A pioneering exploration of the roots of our attitudes toward nature, Paul Shepard’s most seminal work is as challenging and provocative today as when it first appeared in 1967. Man in the Landscape was among the first books of a new genre that has elucidated the ideas, beliefs, and images that lie behind our modern destruction and conservation of the natural world.

Departing from the traditional study of land use as a history of technology, this book explores the emergence of modern attitudes in literature, art, and architecture–their evolutionary past and their taproot in European and Mediterranean cultures. With humor and wit, Shepard considers the influence of Christianity on ideas of nature, the absence of an ethic of nature in modern philosophy, and the obsessive themes of dominance and control as elements of the modern mind. In his discussions of the exploration of the American West, the establishment of the first national parks, and the reactions of pioneers to their totally new habitat, he identifies the transport of traditional imagery into new places as a sort of cultural baggage.
paul shepard
Paul Howe Shepard, Jr. (June 12, 1925 – July 27, 1996) was an American environmentalist and author best known for introducing the “Pleistocene paradigm” to deep ecology. His works have attempted to establish a normative framework in terms of evolutionary theory and developmental psychology. He offers a critique of sedentism/civilization and advocates modeling human lifestyles on those of nomadic prehistoric humans. He explores the connections between domestication, language, and cognition.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Shepard

See further http://paulhoweshepard.wordpress.com/

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