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Environmental Ethics

Volume 33, Issue 3, Fall 2011

Kate Booth
Pages 283-293

In Wilderness and Wildness
Recognizing and Responding within the Agency of Relational Memory

There is a complexity of entities and happenings embodied within the pillars that frame the doorways in our homes and support the broad flat spaces that form supermarkets and department stores. Each pillar speaks to the mythology encircling the origins of Gothic architecture; the ideas surrounding the shift from the trunks and boughs of the sacred grove toward the columns, arches, and vaults of church and cathedral. Each pillar embodies the evolution of life and the history of the Earth. Awakening toward the relational agency at play within the “humanly derived” allows us to recognize this agency as akin to wildness and as William Cronon asserts, this kinship draws us closer to recognizing and responding to the wild in all that surrounds us. It also produces a shift in how we understand the concept of wilderness. It is not, as Cronon contends, a cultural construct, but a fluxing and complex gestalt that includes both human and more-than-human agency.

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