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Man in the Landscape

Man in the Landscape: A Historic View of the Esthetics of Nature

With a new foreword by Dave Foreman
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Man in the Landscape
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-2714-3
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Philosophy, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xx)
    Dave Foreman

    ONE NIGHT IN AFRICA, we came upon a leopard just after she had killed an impala. We watched as she carried her prey up twenty-five feet to the crook of a tree. Her muzzle was pink from warm blood. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen; I was in the most wonderful moment of my life. Paul Shepard would have understood. The leopard was not a figment of my imagination; ahh, but the leopard fueled my thoughts. And does to this day.

    For thirty years, I have been in the thick of the conservation movement. Through those...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xxi-xxviii)
  5. Preface to First Edition
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
    Paul Shepard
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xxxi-2)

    “TO PUT IT BLUNTLY,” said my friend, “nature is out of date.” He had already enumerated the various forms of impending world disaster, the smoke everywhere of social and political conflagrations, the drift of peoples in frantic search for identity and security, the removal of geographical frontiers to outer space, and the perverted state of leisure which made lackluster the slow rhythms of organisms and landforms.

    By nature’s being out of date he meant that the question of its relationship to man had receded, or was accorded only despair. The sharp joy of the outdoors was blunted against new cynicism....

  7. Chapter One The Eye
    (pp. 3-27)

    THE HUMAN—the vertebrate—eye originated in the sea. Its basic structure is the same for all vertebrates, the most primitive of which are aquatic. When it is compared to eyes invented in the air, such as those of the insects, the differences are enormous; compared to eyes independently invented in the sea, such as those of the squids, the similarities are astonishing. An important difference between the sea eye and the land eye is the number of chambers, being multiple in the latter and single in the former. The single-chambered eye is apparently more effective in the murky, homogeneous,...

  8. Chapter Two A Sense of Place
    (pp. 28-64)

    AN EARTHWORM, flung upon the sunlit ground, does not scamper up into the bushes, lunge into a stream, or bask on a hot rock. It squeezes underground as quickly as possible, where we may suppose it is more comfortable. Not at all sharing St. John’s metaphysics, it flees from light as from the devil. Given a choice of temperatures, humidities, pressures, odors, vibrations, light intensities, wind velocities, and spatial structures, an animal moves to or builds what amounts to a combination satisfying for him. To man paradise is the desired ultimate unity of these conditions, but the daily business of...

  9. Chapter Three The Image of the Garden
    (pp. 65-118)

    THE BIBLICAL EDEN (“delight”) is probably the valley of the Tigris in the vicinity of Babylon, a green strip extensively irrigated by an elaborate and ancient system of canals for nearly six thousand years. The Tigris and Euphrates are major river oases in the arid subequatorial regions of the Near East, part of the “fertile crescent,” the home of civilization. Man was “created” here in the Hebrew-Christian paradise. “Paradise” is Persian for “garden.” The uplands of this area, now central Iran, were probably where cereals and most hoofed animals were domesticated. These slopes were gripped simultaneously by deforestation, overgrazing, and...

  10. Chapter Four The Itinerant Eye
    (pp. 119-156)

    “SCENERY” comes from the Greek word for “stage.” The idea that the world contains scenery marks one of the great evolutions of human perception. It converted the human habitat into a kind of coinage by creating a generalized scheme of reference. It was the birth of the visual esthetic experience of nature. The observer of scenery has a disinterested attitude which would be inconceivable if he believed the surroundings to be haunted by spirits and art to be a form of magic. Scenery comes with science and with museum art, a product of analytical and detached vision. Petrarch has been...

  11. Chapter Five The Virgin Dream
    (pp. 157-189)

    THE SPIRITUAL EFFECT of the wilderness runs deeper than any other encounter in nature. Great distances and vast empty spaces, impenetrable forests and mighty waves suggest the power and omniscience of the supernatural, a presence ultimate and final, somehow more real than small-scale places, closed yards with apple trees and sparrows. To those who sit by the lone sea breakers come the heartbreaking terror and the mantle of prophecy, the ecstasy of divine fear, and the sudden, awful awareness of self in space and time.

    Our response to the sight of the Grand Canyon is deeply moving, a romantic experience....

  12. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  13. Chapter Six Fellow Creatures
    (pp. 190-213)

    Albert Schweitzer declared,

    Ethics must plunge into the adventure of making its adjustment with nature philosophy. . . . Let it dare, then to accept the thought that self-devotion must stretch out not simply to mankind but to all creation, and especially to all life in the world within reach of man. Let it rise to the conception that the relation of man to man is only an expression of the relation in which he stands to all being and to the world in general.

    This ethical perspective he called “Reverence for Life.”¹ In several places, especially Civilization and Ethics,...

  14. Chapter Seven Varieties of Nature Hating
    (pp. 214-237)

    NEARLY EVERYBODY knows that this is an era of the ravagement of nature. It is one of those aspects of the times which we deplore, such as mass culture or a high incidence of crime. We put the problem in care of public agencies and interest groups, thereby organizing and delegating it. Occasionally it erupts into our lives as smog or water rationing or the difficulty of finding a fish to catch, but what are these compared to our personal problems?

    In truth, delegation is only what seems to be happening. The machinery for pigeon-holing the ravagement of nature is...

  15. Chapter Eight The American West
    (pp. 238-274)

    PERHAPS THERE IS no better example of the evocative power of natural landscapes than the response of westering pioneers to novel erosional remnants and angular cliffs. To many of the thousands who followed the Oregon Trail before 1850, the escarpments and sedimentary bluffs along the Platte River in western Nebraska were the structures of a ghostly architecture. The Reverend Samuel Parker wrote in his diary in 1835:

    Encamped today near what I shall call the old castle, which is a great natural curiosity . . . [it has] the appearance of an old enormous building, somewhat dilapidated; but still you...

  16. Sources and References
    (pp. 275-290)
  17. Index
    (pp. i-v)