Volume 10, Issue 1, Spring 2013
East Asian and Comparative Approaches to the Environment
Jason M. Wirth
Dōgen and the Unknown Knowns
The Practice of the Wild after the End of Nature
Thinkers like Slavoj Žižek and Tim Morton have heralded the end of our ideological constructions of nature, warning that popular “ecology” or the “natural” is just the latest opiate of the masses. Attempting to think what I call Nature after Nature, I turn to the Kamakura period Zen master Dōgen Eihei (1200–1253) to explore the possibilities of thinking Nature in its non-ideological self-presentation or what Dōgen called “mountains and rivers (sansui).” I bring Dōgen into dialogue with his great champion, the American poet Gary Snyder (who understands the process of sansui as “the wild”), as well as with thinkers as diverse as Schelling, Kundera, Žižek, Agamben, and Muir. Beyond Nature being any one thing, what Badiou derides as the “cosmological one,” I argue for the reawakening and sobering up to multiple Nature, beyond its appearance as an object to a discerning subject, as the bioregions which give us our interdependent and dynamic being.