Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hater to Appreciater

When I came to Thomas More as a freshman I had an interest in art. I spent the majority of my high school classes doodling on my homework and book covers. But if you put me in an art museum after seeing 3 or more paintings of Madonna and Child I would have already been tearing my hair out. Because although I had an interest in art, I had no real history or knowledge of it so I couldn't appreciate it properly. This reminds me of Carlson's theory about how to have a proper aesthetic experience. I couldn't have that experience because I didn't care, and I didn't care because I didn't know. After going to college and majoring in art I've sat through long tedious Art History classes. I hated these classes at first, because I had no real knowledge of art to even build on, just a knack for it. Now after failing Art History the first time, and really engaging in the class the second time around, I have an involuntary love for just about any kind of art. 4 years ago I would walk into an art museum and in about 5 minutes be running for the door. However after learning about the artists that created the paintings I've studied, their lives and the concepts behind their work, after hearing lectures on the process to arrive at such art works I have a true understanding and appreciation for art which really enables me to have the "proper" aesthetic experience.

Natural Aesthetics of Timothy Treadwell

Timothy Treadwell himself implicitly believed in the Aesthetics of Engagement Model - that he could, in fact, erase the distinction between Subject and Object.  He appeared to believe he could communicate with and understand grizzly bears, that he was one of them.  Yet, while Timothy Treadwell knew scientific knowledge about grizzlies, he anthropomorphized them incessantly.  Sometimes, I feel as though he must have had some psychological problems.  He called them names like "Rowdy" and "Grinch"; he spoke to them conversationally using English as if in dialogue with their actions.  He routinely invades their space, their territory - touching them.

In this, Treadwell is not scientific.  Instead of erasing the distinction between him and nature, he seemed to - in reality - project humanity into these animals.

Real scientists understand the nature is ultimately amoral, wild - operating with or without humans.  Nature must be respected.  We cannot degrade nature into - pardon my blunt words - cheap sentimentality.  Environmentalism is plagued by this tendency.  Environmentalists always walk a fine line when granting nature rights or special privileges.  We must understand that "Mother Nature" does not care about us.  The lion pride does not care they exterminate an entire population of gazelle.  Darwin described the natural world as "red in tooth and claw."

Is nature beautiful?  What about positive aesthetics?  Beauty is not always friendly.  Nature can be beautiful for its ecological order, its symmetry, its ecological system, its raw power.  Indeed, advocates of positive aesthetics would say nature's beauty is diminished when the world is brought under our control.  Yet, nature must be respected as ultimately alien, as absolutely Other than us.  Sometimes, I am shocked that the Abrahamic religions can say that God is rational and desires our good while simultaneously affirming the world as good.  Gnostic dualism would be so much easier.

Timothy Treadwell did not understand this.  I remember when Steve Irwin died, that he had been stung by a sting ray.  Now, Irwin was a naturalist in a truer sense.  He gave creatures their "wildness."  I tend to believe - despite what I have heard some say - that Irwin's death was an accident which he did not cause.  Treadwell had it coming.  He had no respect - only all too human love and admiration - for the natural world.  Therefore, despite what he would say, he could not even be said to be truly "engaged" with nature.

Now, I must feel badly - and I do - that Treadwell died in this manner.  Conservation is an admirable goal, but he went the wrong way about it.

I must side with Carlson and Werner Herzog here.

Note: I found a counter-argument by a friend of Treadwell's named Charlie Russell.  I know it's on Wikipedia, but I can't get the link to work.  I'll post it here:

"Herzog is a skillful filmmaker so a large percentage of those who watch the movie Grizzly Man, overlook Timothy's amazing way with animals even though to me this stands out very strongly. The fact that Timothy spent an incredible 35,000 hours, spanning 13 years, living with the bears in Katmai National Park, without any previous mishap, escapes people completely. Even with his city-kid background, I found myself mesmerized by what he could do with animals. Most people now see him only the way Herzog skillfully wanted his audience to see him; as an idiot who continually "crossed nature's line," what ever that means. Perhaps, in his mind, nature’s line is something behind which bears and other nasty things reside who will inevitably kill you if you go there without a gun. He takes everything Timothy stood for and turned it 180°, the result which he then weaves into his own unsophisticated agenda."

I respectfully must disagree with this.  Treadwell cannot be called a responsible scientist since a scientist would understand the distinction between Subject and Object.  He would understand and respect the alien nature of the bears.  He does not do this.  He routinely projects human characteristics onto another species which is not human.

(Blog 8)

Myrtle Beach

To me, the most aesthetically pleasing place in the world is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The drive in always reminds me of how much I have missed the place and how awesome it is. The coolest part is when it's the last hour or so of driving and you can see the swampy marshes beyond the highway and there's just so much mystery in those places. Also one of the things that really lights up all the city is all of their putt-putt courses including the worlds best putt-putt course. Then the best part about it, the beach. The beach is always peaceful and it always gives me a home away from home feeling, and that's why I love it.


To me, Louisville, Ky is very aesthetically pleasing.  This is where I'm from so that might be a reason I am so drawn to the city and the beautiful skyline and waterfront park.  The skyline picture was taken from Indiana side and shows the views of downtown's large buildings.  At night time is the best time to be downtown, simply because the lights are amazing.  Louisville has a buzz about downtown and looking at the skyline at night you can see for yourself.  Waterfront park is one of the best places in Louisville.  Located next to downtown on the Ohio river, it is a great place to go chill.  The great lawn has many great events to attend to.  They have many concerts, firework shows, etc here.  One of the biggest firework displays in the country happens here.  The park next to the waterfront has a trail to walk around and admire the beautiful nature.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spring Break

Spring Break is a time for many to get away from the stress that comes with school and to finally be able to relax. As a kid I lived in the south for a good portion of my childhood so it’s nothing like being able to go back to where it’s warm. Don't get me wrong I love my city but it’s something about the state of Florida that really changes the mood. I love the feeling that when you finally reach the Florida bother and begin to start seeing the palm trees instantly I get a change of attitude and my mood is uplifted. I really look forward to this upcoming week it'll be nice to get back to some consistent warm weather.

Monday, February 27, 2012

blog 5-cincinnati

Everyone seems to hate where they come from, and are always wanting to move somewhere else with completely different people, different weather, and different ways of life. Although I sometimes am not a favor of my hometown, I dont think I could ever totally leave. There is something about the bipolar weather and the mixture of different cultures that is appealing to me. The city lights are very appealing to me, but than going to my little town where there isnt any lights, not even a single street light and you can see the stars- that is asthetically beautiful. It is just a sight to see really.

Christianity and Positive Aesthetics: A Religious Reply to Carlson

Allen Carlson, prematurely in my view, argued that the position that theism provides suitable justification for positive aesthetics is "counterinuitive in light of both the theist position on the problem of evil and the historical point of view of Christian theism" (222). Theism - properly understood, which Carlson does not - holds that the cosmos is contingent upon Uncreated Being which is fundamentally good.  Modern scientists such as Stephen Hawking believe the universe is "elegant" because of its laws and forces.  Carlson holds beauty is "appropriate" the more we recognize the system behind the natural world.  Are not monotheism and science together on this point?  Why then does Carlson object to transcendental religions' form of positive aesthetics - and is his critique valid?

Carlson fails to make several distinctions. First, some religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and some forms of Hinduism are "non-theistic" - that is, hold to an essential, cosmic order without belief in a specific, divine personality from whom reality has its existence. Second, Carlson's "theism" does not include polytheism and fails to deal with other monotheistic traditions such as Judaism and Islam. In this critique, I will engage only Carlson's objections. In ancient religions, the undifferentiated cosmos existed as primordial chaos - an emergent, "atheistic" materialism - from which spawned the gods. The gods then created the orderly world always threatening to fall back upon itself. The gods are fundamentally very powerful creatures subject to fate. Philosophy moves beyonds superficialities into deeper absolutes and unities. Hinduism evolves out of this thought - merging the disparate personalities of the natural world, the gods, into a sublime oneness which is fundamentally impersonal. The gods are the personalities emerging from the impersonal which is fundamentally amoral and becomes pantheistic as the world and the gods are one. Hegelianism and modern atheism can be seen as merely a branch of the materialism which also includes ancient polytheism except "the gods" are forces dictated by the universe's laws. In Polytheism, Pantheism, Aristotelianism, and Materialism, the universe exists as the womb of, and prior to, the gods who uphold the laws of the universe. The gods are arbitrary, capricious, and sometimes even evil. In my opinion, polytheism does not provide a secure basis for positive aesthetics.

Carlson's first criticism is that monotheism (when he says "theism" and really means "Christianity") seems to hold then that only believers could have a privileged appreciation for the beauty of the natural world, that "there is a significant difference between the aesthetic appreciation of... the theist... and non-theist." On one level, this is true since world view does inform one's perspective. However, at least Thomistic Christians believe that God has created all of mankind with reason and, therefore, nature can be appreciated without knowing the Creator. Everyone is created with a hunger for his or her ultimate meaning, or essence, inside - and beauty is part of that. To use an art analogy (which might be inappropriate here), I can appreciate the Last Supper without knowing who painted it.

Carlson's second criticism is Christianity's problem of evil and the related "problem of ugliness." Personally, I am baffled by this since St. Augustine especially would lock arms with Carlson with regard to positive aesthetics:

"One might ask why brute beasts inflict injury on one another, for there is no sin in them for which they could be a punishment, and they cannot acquire any virtue by such a trial. The answer, of course, is that one animal is the nourishment of another. To wish that it were otherwise would not be reason- able. For all creatures, as long as they exist, have their own measure, number, and order." (City of God)

Carlson's argument appears to be this. The problem of evil and the so-called "problem of ugliness" should be seen as two sides of the same coin. While Christians must engage evil by means of a theodicy, Christians (and other monotheists) are willing to accept that ugliness does not exist. Carlson takes this to be inconsistent and demands "the theist should engage in aesthetic theodicy" (221). Why is this inconsistent? In Medieval Christianity, evil is a mere privation of something that should exist. All existence is good because existence comes from God. True ugliness then is privation, an undoing by humankind. In Abrahamic thought, evil comes from the sins of the first humans who lost their intimacy with God. Augustine writes:

“For He has wrought them all in His wisdom, which, reaching from end to end, governs all graciously; and he leaves not in an unformed state the very least of His creatures that are by their nature subject to corruption, whose dissolution is loathsome to us in our fallen state by reason of our own mortality.

In his mind, natural evil is a perspective humans bring into the world. We lost the "God's eye view" in Eden to speak metaphorically. Indeed, the Book of Job affirms that God in His sublimity created the whole of nature. Isaiah, I believe, says somewhere God is the source of both good and [natural] evil. This is why Job delights in terrible sublimity - because God is above all of that. a religious form of the "view from nowhere." The the sublime is beautiful because fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom, the Other, "that terrible goddess" in the words of Carlson (218).

His third criticism is that Christianity historically has not been appreciative of environmental aesthetics. He cites Western belief "wild nature [was believed to be] something to be confronted, dominated, and domesticated..." Here, I will partially concede to Carlson. The monotheistic religions clearly teach that humans are the crown of creation. However, in the first creation story God affirms every thing as essentially good in itself - without any thought of mankind. Furthermore, in all of these religions, God is in charge over nature and - through nature - wields absolute power over humans. Humans are clots of dirt. Adam and Eve are set over the world to cultivate it, to rule it. Are we not the crown of creation though? What other animal - and Christianity affirms we are mere creatures - has the ability to experience "the numinous"? In other words, we reflect on beauty and, in a sense, create beauty and morality out of our minds. We create art and virtues to reflect the world. Nature has no beauty without observers. I find deeply disconcerting those in Life After People who would want humanity gone to "save" the natural world. The natural world does not care about being "saved," any species being "saved." Nature runs on its course with or without us. We care. That alone gives human lives a higher value over the natural world. As Roger Bacon chillingly attests, science is only possible with this view in mind - the separation between the world and the observer. Carlson himself recognizes this in his disputation with the Engagement Model. This entails dominion, setting humans up and against the world. At the same time, however, religion provides another side to this: we are only temporary creations ourselves, that God holds power over both and grinds us into humility.

Finally, Carlson particularly agrees with Romanenko who says, "Religion...reduces her [nature] to the position of a most christian subject of the all-mighty creator." First, "religion" does not do this. Polytheism and pantheism conflates the gods and cosmos into a single chaos without a transcendent standard. Otherwise, I must also concede to Romanenko. Historically, Christianity has been radically anti-material - especially in some Platonic streams of thought the Medieval Ages (while there is much to admire about the medieval synthesis of philsophy). The Pre-Socratics such as Thales and Pythagoras followed by the three Socratics in many ways disenchant the material cosmos. By positing a realm of underlying structures - the abstract harmonies in music and mathematics, the logos, the atoms, or the forms, they pointed to a higher, uncreated unity to which the world can be reduced. As such, nature became an obstacle to perception of "the One" for the Platonic Gnostics or at best a proto-sacramental - that is, a material object participating in divine grace - for some Platonic Christians and Neo-Platonic philosophers. Nature became important insofar as the material world derived its existence from God. While Augustine lovingly depicted the material world acutely (the beauty of the human body, the brilliance of light playing against the world), he still divided between what can properly be "enjoyed" (which he defines as beheld for its own sake) and "used" (a sacred symbol along the road towards the Creator). The bishop reveled in nature not for its own sake. However, I would point out that Emerson himself - in contrast with Thoreau - takes a more balanced version of the "sacramental" position. He states, "A single object is only so far beautiful as it suggests universal grace...The world exists to the soul to satisfy this desire of beauty." (53) He then waxes on like a true Socratic seeking universals when he says: "Beauty one expression for the universe...different faces of the same All." (53) Even though Emerson claims to love nature for its own being, he connects its being not as an ultimate end but as grace towards "the All."

Medieval Christians and Platonic philosophers then have always had a love-hate relationship with the natural world. An imbalance occurs where creation is maligned for the Creator's sake - an odd paradox, and one Emerson and St. Francis of Assisi tried to correct. However, I should note a less extreme version of this attitude is taken by any ascetic mystic of any religion - seeking to escape the world into the uncreated reality.

While monotheistic religions (predominant in the West by an accident of history) partially carries the blame for a devaluation, or demythologizing, of the natural world, Carlson cannot summarily dismiss religious forms of positive aesthetics as invalid.  Indeed, Carlson's own model could be described as as a scientifically updated version (somehow without a ground of existence) of the positive aesthetics created in dialogue between monotheism and the Socratic philosophers.

Blog 7

Dante's Cosmology (Platonic Natural Order, or "Great Chain of Being")
John Scotus Erigena's Cosmology (Divinity bringing forth the variations within Creation)


Sunday, February 26, 2012

My backyard

The guest speaker on Friday showed us that the most picturesque landscape may not be the most environmentally friendly by showing us the image of the cornfield with brilliant yellows and intense blues in comparison with the permaculture which looked like a messy, woven green landscape.

This really hit home with me because my backyard may not be the most picturesque but it is definitely one of the healthiest. While we dont garden to produce crops, all of our gardening is done with the whole yard in mind. We dont have symmetric flower beds with pretty color patterns. Instead, our yard (in the summer) is an intense infusion of all different colors and shapes planted to maximize the plants' opportunity to flourish. Throughout the yard are compost piles to enrich the soil as well as home-made mulch around the trees. My favorite part of our yard is the willow tree that fell over in an ice storm a few years ago: my dad made the decision to keep the sideways tree as a part of the landscape. I think the tree is not only the most interesting feature of our yard, but now, having heard Penny's talk, leaving the tree there allows out yard to function more similarly to a natural environment. This is good for the overall health of our backyard.

Blog 7: The Science Behind Nature

Sunset at Maumee Bay, OH
According to Carlson one needs scientific knowledge to appropriately appreciate nature. Although I believe there are many different ways to experience the natural world, I can’t deny that having some scientific information enhances the experience when viewing any given landscape. I found this to be true after taking a class in astronomy. I’ve always found sunsets to be particularly beautiful. Without any scientific knowledge one can still be in awe of the spectacular display of color. However, when I learned the reason for the red hues is due to the fact that when the sun is low in the sky its light is passing through more of the atmosphere, therefore, both the blue and red light becomes scattered. As whereas during the daytime the light passes through less atmosphere, meaning less a chance for particles to scatter, and because blue light scatters easily that is what color the sky appears. After obtaining this knowledge, I began to look differently at the common sunset. It is as if I now value the complexity of the seemingly simple beauty. It could be somehow related to the science of relationships. The more you know about someone the more you will appreciate or depreciate them. The more you know about the natural world the more you will appreciate or depreciate its beauty.

The Moon, Venus, and Jupiter

Similarly, the starry sky always appeared interesting to me. However, now that I have taken the class it takes on a whole new meaning. For example, last night the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter were all aligned in a triangle shape. If I had not known, I would have simply thought these two solar objects were just bright stars near the moon. Although, because I have studied these fascinating planets, the fact that the small, bright specks in the sky were such a short visible distance away from the moon it made the experience all the more meaningful. 

Blog 6--Permaculture!

On Friday, we had a guest speaker who talked about the importance of permacultures.  I have never heard of one of these things before, I just thought that it would be good to grow my own veggies and don't use pesticides, but that's far from being more environmental friendly.  Creating a sustainable environment for humans and agriculture will be a huge movement for this world.  She described how they are slowly developing and I think it's a really cool idea.  Thomas More should invest in creating a permaculture, and students can go out there and pick fresh veggies to make with their food.  It seems more sensible to create this culture than to have a million different crops grow the one same thing because if one gets infected, the whole crop is.  Then you have to start all over again, whereas a permaculture you grow a variety of things and if one gets infected, it's less likely that the others will get infected and you still have food to eat and beauty to look at.  A permaculture can be created virtually anywhere, just like Penny pointed out that dandelions grow between the cracks of cement ..that life can be sustained mostly anywhere.  Mother nature is pretty cool, and I think the development of these cultures would only benefit our world.  Anything is better than nothing, for our world seems to be slowly deteriorating.    

Blog 5--Walking..well running.

Ahh Cross Country...the worst pictures ever taken.  This past week and the week coming up have been filled with beautiful weather.  First off I am shocked at this weather change, but excited because I don't have to haul a huge jacket around school.  This weather makes me get outside and I have mentioned I run cross country and running is just something I have to do..ugh.  When its in the teens and twenties I usually go out and run, but sometimes I make an excuse not too haha. This 50s weather however really gives me no excuse to not get out and run.  It really is super nice to wear a long sleeve and shorts, put in the Ipod and go.  I usually take in the beauty of nature when I am running, however it is hard when I live in a city and a lot of what I see is traffic, buildings and street signs.  Sometimes I drive somewhere to run where it is more rural and I can go in the trails and do a workout.  Nature is really a beautiful thing and I do appreciate it more when I run.  It feels like I am one with nature when I get out there.  I feel like Thoreau, being one with nature and living with it...only if its for 30 mins to an hour. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

(Photos Added) Aesthetic of the Lie, War of Reclamation in My Front Yard

Natural Aesthetic of the Lie

Thinking about the photographs of "rust rivers" from the film Manufactured Landscapes, I cannot help but think that Immanuel Kant is correct about aesthetics.  On a formal level, the forests layered in iron ash evoked an emotion similar to looking at depictions of the early Earth - wild, untamed, raw nature.  In fact, these images represent an inverted sublime where nature has been dwarfed.  This sense of beauty then is objectively wrong, inappropriate, because the reality directly opposes the associated impression.  Appropriateness is a reflection, or function, of truth.  These scenes are beautiful because of what they seem to be rather than what they are in fact.  Objectively speaking, that is the definition of a lie.  Natural formal aesthetics then cannot properly be called "appropriate" in this case.  But what about sunsets in smog?

Slow War of Reclamation

On another note, I was intrigued by Penny Feltner's image of the dandelion engaged in an eternal war against the industrial sidewalk - a war which nature would inevitably win if not for our constant intervention.  My front yard consists of an acre or two of woods - albeit, polluted with decaying deer stands, barrels, trash.  Most intriguing is a very rusted thresher lying in a stream.  (I'll post a picture soon.)  Over the years, nature has been reclaiming that machine while that thresher pollutes the stream.  I suppose this is the appeal of Life After People, a show which is very painful to watch - that nature will have the last laugh always.  Natural sublimity reasserts itself over the illusions of our own grandeur.

Perhaps, this could be an aesthetic vision of the abandoned oil refineries on the beach, Adriana, or the abandoned barns in the woods.

(Blog 6)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Urban Lanscape

Even though some people may not appreciate the urban setting I have a great appreciation for the city of Cincinnati. The other night my girlfriend and I went to a birthday party in downtown Cincinnati and I realized how remarkable the buildings around me looked in the dark. Many building were lit up and almost looked majestic with their enormous size. Then we walked by fountain square which was still lit up with lights and people ice skating it was an awesome sight.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meshing Industry with Nature

        I have been reflecting on how our world is changing from a more natural landscape into a more industrial one after being inspired by the film last week. There was one thing I was curious about which the photographer hadn't addressed in his film. I was wondering what environmental aesthetic philosophers would think of places like Huntington Beach, CA. The beach has a long pier which is home to one of California's famous restaurants called Rubie's along with also being formally as Surf City, USA. They have fire pits and fairly decent parking prices if you want to spend the whole day there, but they also have a wonderful view of an old oil refinery which makes for great scenery when you're trying to take a photo.

        How can we appreciate our natural landscape and our new emerging one if they are so opposite? Things like nuclear power plants, oil refineries, factories, etc are all a part of our growing 'natural' environment and I'm still not quite sure how I can appreciate one or the other together. When I have gone to Huntington beach before, seeing the deserted oil refinery never ceases jar me out of the sense that I am hanging out on a beach. The sea, the sand, everything sort of takes on a grimy quality to it because I keep thinking of pollutants and other things like that.

        One possible solution to the incorporation of industry and nature is organic architecture. Organic architecture is a movement to try and create living or working spaces that take buildings and try not to disturb the natural surroundings or use the natural surroundings to the design's advantage.

       But organic architecture doesn't really help get the eye to appreciate industrial design like a factory with the continuing natural environmental like at Huntington Beach. So I would like to find someone within Carlson's text who would try help give an idea of how to see the aesthetic value of an old oil refinery next to a beach because right now I don't see it.

Blog 6

Nature is such a beautiful thing.  Recently I have been trying to plan a trip away and have been researching all the cities within 5 hours of Cincinnati.  I began thinking that there are so many beautiful places in the United States and I would love to travel.  Nashville really caught my eye.  Even in the big bustling city there is beauty all around.  Lexington is another city that I absolutely love.  It is absolutely stunning with all of the greenery and beautiful scenery everywhere you look.  Hopefully I can plan a trip and get out of the normal every day NKY and travel somewhere new and exciting!

This past weekend I had the privilege of going to New York with some of the art students from Thomas More. While I was there I visited numerous museums and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art I was able to see in person some of the paintings we talked about in class. Specifically the ones of Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole, and other Hudson River School artists. Looking at these paintings even on a computer screen, they communicate a sublime feeling but seeing them in person is even more effective.  


Noel Carroll is well-known for his his philosophy of being moved by nature.  In a passage in the book, "Nature, Aesthetics, and Environmentalism,"he talks emotional about waterfalls.

"Turning from tanks to nature, we may be emotionally moved by a natural expanse, excited, for instance by the grandeur of a towering waterfall. All things being equal, being excited by the grandeur of something that one believes to be of a large scale is an appropriate emotional response.  Moreover, if the belief in the large scale of the cascade is one that is true for others as well, then the emotional response of being excited by the grandeur of the waterfall is an objective one.  It is not subjective, distorted, or wayward.  If someone denies being moved by the waterfall, but agrees that the waterfall is large scale and says nothing more, we are apt to suspect that his response, as well as judgments issued on the basis of that response are inappropriate.  If he does not agree that the waterfall is of a large scale, and does not say why, we will suspect him either of not understanding how to use the notion of large scale, or irrationality.  If he disagrees that the waterfall is of a large scale because the galaxy is much much larger, then we will try to convince him that he had the wrong comparison class - urging, perhaps, that he should gauge the scale of the water fall in relation to human scale."

In a park near my home, there is a beautiful trail with a lake that becomes a babbling brook.  There are very small waterfalls here and there, and even though they are not of "grandeur," their beautiful, rushing sound, the foam that forms at the bottom of the fall, and the way the water carves the stone is still so beautiful and majestic to me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Weary Winter

Whenever this time of the year comes around, I will not lie, my mood does change in a way. I'd rather it be 75 degrees and sunny everyday. Now, I do not hate everything about winter, I love the snow and plus my birthday is right in the middle of it, so there are some things that I look forward to. Another reason why winter seems to be one of the worst times of the year for me is because it's right in the middle of two sports that I enjoy playing and watching, which are baseball and football. Some winter's are worse than others, and I must say that this winter has been a bit warmer than usual so it does put me in a better mood.

Associations: My car is my life

One place that I find I have many associations with is my car. It seems odd to say so, but I always feel that I spend most of my day in my car driving from school, to work, to a friends, or to home. My home is about 30 minutes away from school and work and most of my friends, so I spend a lot of time reflecting to myself as I drive. I typically just turn on music and drive, yet sometimes I turn the radio down and let my mind wander as I pass certain places or certain things come to mind. I fortunately have never been in any accidents or never had any major problems go wrong with my car since I've had it for about 7 years now. It sounds so strange to say I have an attachment to my car, but I truly feel that I do. I bought the car on my own just before I turned sixteen for $3,500. It was a 5-speed manual and I didn't even know how to drive it or even have my license. But from then on I began teaching myself how to drive, driving myself and friends around, sneaking out on weekends by rolling my car down the hill in neutral, and picking up bad habits like eating and texting while driving. Not a day goes by that I don't use my car; I've even given "her" a name. But whenever I get into my car I think about all the things that have happened while I've had it. I think about the fights I've had with friends, boyfriends, and parents and how sometimes my outlet was to just get outside and sit in my car with music on or just think to myself. I think about all the fun places I've gone with friends, squishing teammates into my car for soccer practice, the very first time I stalled my car while driving, and how I continue to pollute the environment with my excessive driving. I spend about $50 a week on gas just so I can have something to do on the weekends or just to get to work and school. This doesn't seem to bother at all because my car gives me the freedom to do these things on my own. When I drive, I can reflect on things about the past, the day, and things I want to do or see in the future. It's very strange how I feel about my car and that my car is the one place I make most of my associations, but I appreciate myself for being able to buy my own car, keep her in one piece, and I pride myself on that ability to keep doing so. Many things in my life have happened or changed while I've had my car and sometimes memories are my car just being there, but I've come to the realization that soon I'll need to get a new car because she's about 15 years old and isn't looking so good on the inside and out. But until the day comes where the car doesn't run anymore, I'll continue to drive from place to place everyday thinking about what it has done for me.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Myth Placement

File:Causeway-code poet-4.jpgWhen reading Dr. Saito's article I decided to explore the idea of myth being attached to place and how that may place significance in a person's perception of the natural environment there. My mind jumped first to the Giant's Causeway in Ireland which looks like a series of steps leading into the sea. The legend attached to this natural landscape was that there was an Irish warrior who built the causeway so he could go fight some warrior in Scotland.
 The landscape is fantastic look at and it does generate make people stop and appreciate the natural scenery, but this place is also used for heavy tourism. I know that Saito seemed to think that we should get away from viewing nature in an associative manner. She did state that natural environments that were held in significance bcause of the "human drama" that surrounded that environment was not a true way to appreciate nature, but after looking at The Giant's Causeway, I feel that it humans need a different lens to approach the environment in order to appreciate not just as a landscape with a mythical story, but as a serious, geological formation which seems realistic to what Saito wanted her readers to do. I think this task will be difficult though and propose different kinds of challenges to really focus people's perceptions on how to view nature.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blog 6: Associations

The concept of appreciating a place simply because one associates an event with that particular location seems rather intriguing to me. Often places spark memories of events which then give the area a whole new meaning. I find this to be true in my daily life. Even the simplest of places can remind one of an event that occurred there, especially if the place is visited often. If one visits a place frequently and is reminded each time of the same thing that happened in the location, the stronger the place and event association will be.

The Studio :)

One of the spaces I visit quite often that I associate with multiple events is the Thomas More’s art department studio room. In the beginning as freshman we were in this space for the majority of our classes and every year since we have spent numerous hours here. Countless joy filled and stressful events have occurred here, therefore I associate the room itself with many of my college experiences. However, if the room were to be viewed aside from the associations it may appear to the average student as a disorganized, cold space. Whereas I will always see this studio as welcoming and cheerful, due to the associations that have developed over the years.

Yellow Stone Hot Springs

Yellow Stone National Park is one of the most largest and one of the most popular national parks that the US has. Period. You will find only a few other attractions here in the US that attracts so many foreign tourists as Yellow stone does. The Park itself encompasses many habitats which house many different flora, fauna, and national wonders. But what makes it unique and so memorable is the geothermal ecosystem. The geothermal area of the park consists of many geysers, the most famous of which is Old Faithful.

Other geysers at the park may erupt once every month, twice every year, or a handfull of times in a decade. Those with longer and more unpredicable latent periods, are the ones that have the most glorious eruption. I remember a local describe when a particularly rare eruption, I believe it was called steamboat geyser, created what he thought was an earthquake back in 1991. This rarity of the geyser eruption is what made its impact so poignant on the minds of those who got to witness it. This is the same principle behind the geothermal area in general so memorable. Its uniqueness is what made it so worth protecting and makes the whole experience of geyser watching anestheticly pleasing.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dr. Yuriko Saito's Email Response to My Question

I was wondering how Dr. Saito viewed anthropocentric myths where the gods created things for human beings rather than in themselves so I emailed her at Rhode Island School of Design.  Here's her response:

"Good question!  My view will be the paragraph before the conclusion section where I want to distinguish between those creation narratives which do not attend to the specific features of natural objects and landscapes and those which do, as bioregional narratives.  The Judeo-Christian account will be the former where the narrative covers nature as a whole (created by God for the benefit for humans) which does not help explain why this particular mountain is the way it is or why a particular animal looks and behaves in a certain way.  Nor is its anthropocentric framework informed by the specific features of natural objects and landscapes.  It seems to me that such a narrative kind of has an overarching scheme to begin with, rather than a narrative created based upon close and careful observations of specific aspects of nature (which in the olden times would have to be confined to what their eyes and ears can sense, hence local).  I have not studied Native American stories, so I can't give a fair response, but, perhaps in addition to a large creation story like the one you mention, my understanding is that there are also region-specific stories that are associated with specific landscape, weather condition, fauna and flora.  Sometimes the naming of a place reflects their understanding of the specific feature of the land (e.g., where the river forks into two directions, etc.).  So, my view is that the more the story is based upon observation of specific features of the objects and landscapes the more appropriate the appreciation is.  I think it's more a matter of degree than clear distinction."

I'm not sure this answers my question as she seems to take a more regional vs. universal perspective than a "for human use" vs. "in itself" perspective.  It appears Dr. Saito's largest distinction is whether close observation was involved.

It was interesting to hear her response though.

(Blog 5)

Driving through Indiana

Im not sure if you can see it to well but I took this picture driving through Indiana last weekend. It is a picture of beams of sunlight streaming through clouds. It just really made me think of a discussion we had in class about how people may experience this phenomenon and believed it to be Godly. I just so happened to catch it on camera and immediately thought of that particular class discussion. After reflecting on the picture I thought about if I were to paint this how would I alter it to look how I perceived it or how I found it aesthetically pleasing. I think I would take my dashboard out of the picture, possibly the road, and maybe even the electrical  lines. That is when I realized I would be taking everything that is human out of the picture until everything left is what I perceive as natural. I am also guilty of thinking that things that are human are not natural. That in order for beauty to be seen it has to be fully natural and will alter the actual experience to my perception.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


This photo of a field with a sundial can be analyzed with the following environmental aesthetic philosophies: 
1.     The “Object Model”
3.     The “Natural Environmental Model”
4.     The “Aesthetics of Engagement

1.         The object of this photo is quite simply the sundial.  The sundial determines the photos emotion, a sense of time and the beauty of it.  Depending on the context, the purpose and meaning of the sundial, especially a rustic one like the one in the photo, gives a certain aesthetic meaning to the photo.  Nature seems to both not notice time, but conversely nature has evolved because of evolution. 
2.         One may appreciate this photo more if they know what how long the sundial had been installed and how many sun rises and sun sets it has seen.  Scientifically, what is going on with the how is the sundial used to tell time?  Knowing the Greeks were the ones that truly began keeping time with sundials means they are the oldest watch, the oldest clock.  Especially since the clock is as natural as one comes; it uses the sun and only the sun to work.
3.         This photo could be viewed as subjective since, personally, one person viewing it may only see a sundial not even positioned the correct way to tell the correct time with the sun, while another person may somehow realize this is the most natural clock that exists; it uses the sun, not mechanics, to count the days down.  

The Marvelous Moon.

As far as any cultivation/mining/ownership of the moon goes, I feel it would be morally wrong simply because I was always so fascinated by the moon when I was younger-and still am. In a way I feel the moon is one of those things that is just incomparable when it comes to the beauty of it. To me there's nothing like laying on a blanket staring at the moon and stars and just letting the massiveness of it all suck you in and make you realize how small you are here on Earth, or sitting around a fire with light flickering on the faces of those around you and the moon lighting up the woods around you and letting you experience the night the way a nocturnal animal would.

To get technical- we should recognize the beauty of the moon by association if anything. If we recognize battlefields for their past events why can't we recognize the moon for it's help in past events. I'm sure there were countless nights before flashlights that it helped to light paths for many people such as Native Americans, hunters and African Americans fleeing slavery on the Underground Railroad. Theres were times I used the moon for light simply because a flashlight would have revealed my location when playing hide-n-go-seek with the other children in my neighborhood. Maybe that's just a shot in the dark-but it's how I feel.

If it wasn't for the moon, what would have been NASA's first goal? It's an important part of history for America. As far as ownership goes, I do not believe that America owns it. Or any other country for that matter. As far as I'm concerned everyone, in a way, has ownership over the moon. Not only one person looks into the sky and sees the moon; Everyone does. I believe if we were to eventually diminish the moon it would change so many things in so many different ways. Children's books such as "Goodnight Moon" would simply be mystifying to feature generations of children that have no clue what the moon is or would really ever have the chance to. The cheesy motivational quote of "Shoot for the moon even if you miss you'll land among the stars" would make no since anymore. Would it become something like, 'Shoot for the sun and hope you miss so you aren't scorched to death'? That doesn't sound very motivational to me. What would Pink Floyd have used to inspire a song instead of Dark Side of the Moon?

Basically, I'm pretty content with letting the moon continue to fascinate younger generations, provide lighting to head into the woods when I go hunting, and to be part of cheesy motivational quotes (no matter how cheesy they are..)

On a lighter note, Goodnight Moon.


Personally I think that when you first look at a place its easy to appreciate its beauty from a picturesque point of view, whether its a forest with unkept wildlife that hasn't been maintained by anyone or a park created for the scenery. To have an appropriate aesthetic appreciation of the natural environment I don't think its enough. You just accept the scene for its face value, but until you have some understanding of it environmentally theres really no deep meaning. It seems in a way that what you absorb just by the sight of a place can be shallow, not completely meaningless but also not very meaningful. The more information you have of a place the more value it has, and a better general outlook for the way you begin to see things. To have some kind of link between you and you're environment through science or the history of a place I've learned can be a very important tool to use.

Las Vegas

My sophomore, junior, and senior year I went to Las Vegas to play in a basketball tournament.  Looking back on traveling around Vegas, I realized how sublime it is.  Every which way you look, you get the feeling that you are in the desert by the tall rangy mountains surrounding the city.  Flying in to Vegas I was amazed to see the Grand Canyons, they were so massive and it felt like it took forever to fly over.  We stayed at the Stratosphere which is the hotel with the huge sky needle type building, with rides at the very top, attached to it.  I feel very close to the city life so I find looking at big cities and their sky lines pretty cool.  I think seeing huge building out in the middle of nowhere is relaxing, even though most poeple feel rushed and out of place.  I thrive in city life and love seeing the locals and their art displayed on buildings by "tagging".  Most poeple feel graffiti de-moralizes the city but I feel like it adds character to the city.

February Blues

Many people have a bad feeling about the cold and come down with the blues. But not me. To me when the weather gets colder outside I believe that is when the air feels the freshest. Just the other day I had to go for a run outside in this cold weather and it really refreshed my lungs to breathe in some nice crisp cold air. Also its not to bad to think that spring is only getting closer and all the new plant life will be coming out to play as well. There is no reason to get the blues when it becomes cold during this time of year there are always things to look forward to or things that you can enjoy just a little bit when its chilly outside.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Moon Mining

I found it very interesting in class on Monday how it hard it was to make a moral argument against mining the moon. So, here is an article by Andrew Smith

He argues against lunar mining from an environmentalist standpoint. The last line of his articles is perhaps the most hard hitting:

 "Earth's sister has played a role in teaching us to value our environment: how extraordinary to think that the next giant leap for the environmental movement might be a campaign to stop state-sponsored mining companies chomping her up in glorious privacy, a quarter of a million miles from our ravaged home."

We have a hard time protecting the Earth's environment, how are we going to protect the moon too ?

Monday, February 13, 2012

NKY Nature

Charlie on a walk in the Cemetery! 

Lately we have been talking about the different perspectives you can have of nature.  Thinking along these lines I find myself looking at nature in many different ways.  Sometimes I look at a specific object of nature and think about its beauty and relevance in the world. Other times I look at myself as a part of nature, especially when I am out walking my dog by myself just admiring the beauty around me.  Nature around NKY is a very rarely appreciated thing and it is so sad because there are so many beautiful places around here.  I live on a street with a cemetery at the end of the street and I love to take my dog back there to walk.  It is so serene and peaceful and sad that not many people take the time to enjoy such a beautiful space.


For those of you that wondered what Dr.Langguth was referring to today in class, this was it. I had brought it up a few weeks earlier but thought it wouldn't exactly fit the subject at the time. Maybe it'll help serve as context to this past reading, maybe it'll inspire you, or maybe it'll just kill time for you.

[A shrug occurred here]

I like it, along with the rest of the series and the host's other collection, known as The Sagan Series.

Landscapes: Greece

During summer of 2009 I visited many places in Greece including the Athens, Delphi, and three different islands. Visiting the a few of the worlds first areas of civilizations that are now homes to millions put many things into perspective. While traveling, I took many pictures of the places we went to and tried to put my own point of view as an artist into those photographs also. I love to paint and do so on a regular basis, I tend not to paint landscapes though. I enjoy the details of the whole painting and try to focus on the little pieces of a wider picture. My favorite things to paint are flowers, from petals to leaves and in between. I try not to paint the whole bouquet usually in order to get the look I was going for. I'm more happy with more detail in a little piece of something. Yet, when I was in Greece it was hard not to want to find that perfect picture of the whole area. While taking a cruise through some Greek islands, I found myself collecting pictures of a sail boat with its back to the broad sea. Many of my pictures however were of the land on some of the islands we had stopped at. I have many pictures of doors and flower boxes on the windows, the rocky terrain to lead to the houses, the markets in the streets, and the animals they use to get places. The only landscape pictures I found were of important sculptures or places like the Acropolis. I  found greater enjoyment in the little things that looked "picturesque" to me instead of the greater picture.

A Country's Taste For Landscape

I found it really interesting in our reading how Aldo Leopold thought we should see nature. I specifically liked the part where he began talking about the Ohio housewife that studied sparrows and the chemist who studied pigeons. Aldo talked about how these people reached their level of expertise not because of a desire for fame but for personal satisfaction. When you're interested in something you crave to learn more, and maybe that is why we no longer see the sun. Emerson said that adults don't really see the sun, but children do. As adults you feel like you've already been there and done that  a thousand times, but as a child everything is new. You couldn't know enough about the sun. You'd stare at it so long your eyes hurt just to know why.

So what does that say about us as humans? I think our "know-it-all" adult perception has everything to do with our "onto the next thing" technological society. How long before an incredibly photoshopped landscape will be more admired than the one outside our door? Or are we already there?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

If I could draw more than doodles.

We've been talking a lot about how nature and art relate, and how the beauty of nature is judged through the beauty of art. Most of the art we've discussed and looked at have been landscapes, whether it be of a large majestic mountain range, a warm tropical beach, a quite forest, or even our so called dismal swamp. But in my opinion, if I had any artistic ability at all, I would attempt to draw the side of nature that many people don't get to see such as the power that nature truly holds over us.
Some of the things I would include in my paintings would be the pure forces of nature like storms, earthquakes, landslides, wildfires, floods, and all the other natural "disasters" that people consider dangerous. To us we consider these acts of nature disasters because of the damage they cause to our man made structures as well as the casualties that may occur. But before there were buildings to be destroyed by these forces, there was only nature and the effects of these so called disasters were not nearly as severe as they are today. I feel as if people don't recognize the beauty in the pure power of what nature can really do, and since we consider these actions to be so dangerous, we never truly get to just sit and observe them because we are usually huddle in our bathtubs or praying our basements won't flood. So if I were an artist drawing natural things, I would attempt to capture these acts of nature in my paintings like these artist have tried to do in theirs.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Blog 5: A Picturesque Inclination

As an artist, deciding on a landscape to paint or photograph has proven to be challenging quite often. Similar to the artists that John Muir encountered, I too am inclined to look for the picturesque. Due to the fact that the traditional scenic landscape is so commonplace within the art world, it is almost as if this way of viewing nature is engraved in my mind as the ‘correct’ way. It’s possible that these perfect scenes are painted or photographed primarily because their beauty translates well to the viewer. Whereas a sublime landscape piece may not produce the same instant response, if a response is evoked at all. The underlying reality is that we collectively deem certain objects, people, and places as beautiful. It is works centered on these agreeably beautiful things which will undoubtedly receive praise for capturing perfection.

My typical picturesque landscape
Sublime landscape

However, more and more I find myself attempting to find beauty in the sublime landscape. Often it’s not an easy task, which may be why I tend to shy away from the sublime and resort to the straightforward picturesque. When looking for landscapes to photograph I came across an interesting scene in Eden Park. It was an overcast, misty day, which under the picturesque mind-set would be nearly a recipe for failure. Although I was not particularly optimistic about the photos I was taking, I soon saw an isolated strange looking tree. After shooting many frames while toying with the composition, I finally came across one that was decent. However, it was only after going through my shots multiple times that I found value in the picture. The beauty of this landscape is present, but it’s not as obvious. The elements of mystery and the unknown are what give the landscape its hidden beauty.

Swampy Lake

Henry Thoreau is considered the "Patron Saint" of swamps.  He thought that a deep and hard-bottomed lake was symbolic of a kind of "philosophical self-reflexivity", instead of narcissistic self-contemplation.  Thoreau thought, "a lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature.  It is the earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature."  The swamp, on the other hand is shallow and soft.
For Thoreau "my temple is a swamp." He said:
"When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most impenetrable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place, a sanctum sanctorum."
Thoreau thought the swamp was the holy of holies.  He even said that rather than avoiding the black swamp filled with depression and melancholia, one should go to the swamp.  The photos below are of a 'swampy lake', a swamp that was once a lake with stairs leading down to it so one could get on a boat and go fishing.  Now, it has become a swamp, but is still so beautiful and relaxing.  Grant it, it IS a swamp, so the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Niagara Freaking Falls

The only time I have been outside this great nation of ours was a few years ago when my family and I took a brief detour to Niagara falls. You have to admit one thing about the Canadians, is that they got the good side of the Falls.
Here is our side. American Falls and Bridal Viel Falls are magnificient waterfalls, and many would agree. If you asked what they ment by magificient, they might think a while and say that its large, wide, powerful waterfall. That the sheer volume of water that the falls deals with is simply mindboggling. Those who have been to the falls will probably remember what it sounded like. The decibels produced by 1000s of kiloliters of water dumping into more water makes it very hard to have a conversation. This is a perfect example of what Carlson and Lintott would consider the sublime. We are moved by the sight of the falls because we fear it a little. It is a powerful force of nature that demands our attention and "screams" for it daily. But this just the american slice of the Niagara pie. When most people come to the fall's they all get their passports because of this side.
Being over two and a half times more powerfull, The Canadian Horseshoe falls takes the cake. But heres the interesting part. The American Falls are an impressive 1000 ft across. If it would have been located anywhere else in the world, it would surly get more attention than it does now. However juxtaposing the American Falls right next to one of the few falls that overwhelm it, somehow devalue the American Falls. When discussing an object in nature, one can argue that the surroundings add more depth to the object than the object itself. Apprecieating an object *ahem* objectivly without imposing standands that the surroundings put on said object is not something the human mind does normally. The context of the object is just as important as the object itself. (another example: oasis in the desert > a pond in a wetland)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Isle of Palms, SC - Blog #5

My girlfriend's family took me on a week long trip over the summer to the Isle of Palms, SC.  I have to say this is one of the most relaxing places I have ever been.  I didn't think it was anything special as I was driving over the mile long bridge, but once I got there I understood why people love this place.  The long beach was perfect for relaxing in the sun and the ocean was amazing.  The tides varied each night so it was interesting to go walk the beach while the sun was rising to see all the different types of marine life and sea shells washed up on the beach.  The locals told us that it was common to run across snakes or alligators on the beach, thank God we didn't!  Everyone is so calm and nice so it was pleasing to get away to an unfamiliar area which was so relaxed all the time.  The sun setting in the evening was perfect, the way it glistened off the water made you feel apart of the atmosphere.  I loved this place and would recommend it to everybody.

Outside Adventures! (Blog #5)

The other day when we went outside for class, I was excited!  I love being outside and experiencing this world that was created.  I learn a lot differently when I'm outside vs. inside.   When I'm outside I get a sense of being and what my purpose is here.  I realized how miniature I am compared to the huge oak tree or campus building.  Life isn't simply about living and dying, there is more, and we as humans need to go explore what the meaning of life is.  I reached a sense of place, that TMC, my house, Friday's, the hospital, etc. are all things that affect how we live.  The mall, for instance, affects how we go about caring for ourselves.  Getting the right clothes and shoes and perfumes and what not isn't what makes us live, however I believe that is what some people live for.  If you were to go in a church, that might change your perspective on life.  You experience the presence of God, receive his body and blood, and confess your sins.  Church is a place that makes you feel good.  If we go let's say to the Bronx of New York, then our sense of place may seem violated or threatened.  It is weird how we are affected by places, but makes us realize what is important to us, and what really life is about.    

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Poet Gary Snyder's "Smokey the Bear Sutra"



Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago, the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite Void gave a discourse to all the assembled elements and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings, the flying beings, and the sitting beings--even the grasses, to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning Enlightenment on the planet Earth.
"In some future time, there will be a continent called America. It will have great centers of power called such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur, Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon. The human race in that era will get into troubles all over its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature."
"The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth. My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger: and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it."
And he showed himself in his true form of


A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.
Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;
His left paw in the mudra of Comradely Display--indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that of deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;
Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;
Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the west, symbolic of the forces that guard the wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the true path of man on Earth:
all true paths lead through mountains--
With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;
Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;
Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs, smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;
Indicating the task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes, master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.
Wrathful but calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or slander him...


Thus his great Mantra:
Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana Sphataya hum traka ham mam
And he will protect those who love the woods and rivers, Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children:
And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television, or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR'S WAR SPELL:





And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out with his vajra-shovel.
Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.
Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.
Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.
Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.
Will always have ripened blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.
...thus we have heard...
(may be reproduced free forever)

#4 Florida

This past summer my family and I went to Florida for vacation. We had visited the beach multiple times, when i wasn't distracted by the hot beach babes, I was able to take a chance and look out at the water and what not. One of the days we were able to parasail out in the ocean, which scared me to death because i thought i was going to get attacked by a shark when they dipped us down into the water. When i was up there i realized how sublime the ocean is to us. It is just unreal to think about, and amazing!