Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Word From Hargrove (Blog 7)

In Thompson's reading, it's stated that Hargrove says "...nature is its own standard of goodness and beauty, making ugliness impossible as a product of nature's own creative activity." I like this statement because I kind of agree with it. Although I don't stop to stare at the dead leaves on the muddy ground on a gray day the same way I would the beautiful autumn leaves on the ground or on the trees ranging from colors of greens and yellows and reds on a bright day I know that in the right perspective those dirty brown leaves could make a wonderful photograph. Such as this...

I like to think that everything God has placed on this earth is either of value because of it's purpose or just because it's pleasing to the eye.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Zoos, Saito, and Panda Rant (Blog 7)

I really liked Saito's chapter on "Unscenic Nature".  I thought she brought up an important concept, which involves questioning that everything in nature is aesthetically appreciable.  Furthermore, I really like when she speaks about Zoos because sometimes I also have a duality for the idea.

When I was a child I used to absolutely HATE Zoos because I saw these animals in small pitiful cages and viewed them as Saito does on Pg. 246: "The same sound expressing the majestic dignity of a lion's roar heard in the wild may be transformed into a pitiful cry when heard from a lion in captivity".  Now that I'm older, I recognize that Zoos protect and save animals and serve an important function.  However, I still become a little angry when I see small cages.  It's been a long time since I've been to the Cincinnati Zoo, 3ish years, but last time I was there I was completely frustrated by a Wild Cat exhibition...I saw a leopard with barely enough room to walk and I kept thinking, "Hopefully, they are moving her".  It's so sad that some endangered animals can't be wild in their natural environments and be a part of the ecosystem.  That being said, most of the habitats at the Cincy Zoo are quite large and seem to accommodate the animals and zoos do give us a unique opportunity to observe animals.

Also, I found the broadcast I talked about in class where Chris Packham discusses if Giant Pandas are worth saving...I see both arguments discussed in this.  Link it below if anyone is interested, but I will warn it is 10 minutes long:

I apologize for ranting, I'm just a passionate animal lover :p

Blog #7 : Landscapes In Video Games Part 1

So I decided to do a 4 part series for a blog post.  This first multiple part series of post is on the topic of Environmental Aesthetics in Video Games. Environmental aesthetics in video games are made for player interaction.  They are crafted in a way that makes human interaction with the environment easy and inviting.  This is a very interesting take on human interaction with the environment. The three video game series I will be looking at are Halo, Gears of War and Minecraft.

The picture above is from the Video Game Halo 3, and as one can see when crafting the environment for human interaction Aesthetics are an important part of it.  This game takes a very interesting perspective on natural and artificially created environments.  In the background one can see the ring like structure that is cutting through the sky.  That is actually an artificially crated ring in space that natural structures are crafted on.  This is a very interesting way to think of environmental Aesthetics, having an artificially created world that creates natural structures.

This next image is from the game series Gears of War, and as one can see the human influence of the enviroment blends into the naturally crafted enviroment.  This game series takes a unique approach to the enviroment by blending artificially crafted objects with natural enviroments.

This next image is from the game Minecraft.  This game takes a unique approach to the environmental Aesthetics as well.  In this game one uses the resources given to them in the natural environment to craft their own creations within the natural world.  This provides a unique Aesthetic experience when one has to consciously think about how their use of the environment will be best used to create a new artificially constructed environment.

Many people would not think of Video games when it comes to environmental Aesthetics, but the fact is that the Aesthetics of the environment have a strong impact on how the player interacts with it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Blog 7: Roger Scruton

I don't know about everyone else, but Roger Scruton has been my favorite part of the class thus far. He is definitely not what you would expect when you are given the preliminary information that he is a philosopher. And when I did an internet search for him and discovered that he was also a college professor I was astounded once again because he is just not what comes to mind when thinking of college professors. My basic feeling toward Scruton is I like his style, not that I support fox hunting. Most of the philosophers that I have been exposed to in my life (including several here and many in a previous philosophy class at Georgetown College) have come across as rather boring and dry I must say. Scruton just seems like more of a real person to me. He doesn't play any games with image or what is going on in the environment around him. He smokes cigars during interviews that are being recorded. While I am not sure how I feel about the traditional conservatism that Scruton belongs to, I must say that I been simply entrhalled by the things I have seen about him thus far. He's alright with me, and I will most certainly not be forgetting about him any time soon!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blog #6: Why Beauty Matters

The video clip we watched from Scruton surprised me in more ways than one. How can someone who promotes natural beauty and the need to appreciate it condone fox hunting that way? Sure it might be a sport, but animals are part of nature. Isn't killing a fox similar in some respect to cutting down a forest? You're essentially destorying habitats and removing pieces of nature from the bigger picture. It just seemed a little hypocritical to me, not that I necessarily believe that hunting is good or bad (as in deer hunting, fox hunting is a different story. I'm not sure there is a need to control the fox population.)

Anyway, I found something on the internet about Roger Scruton and his "Why Beauty Matters." Here are a few pieces:

How is beauty important in our everyday realities and constructs, both with each other and to the built environment?
There are two kinds of beauty: the individual, expressive and revealing gesture, and ordinary harmony and fittingness. In everyday life it is the second kind of beauty that is important, and it is exemplified in home-building, gardening and the design of squares, houses and streets. It is important because it expresses and amplifies the human desire for settlement, for an environment in which things fit together and people too. It is an instrument of peace.

You speak of how we should set standards for beauty. Why is this important and how do we go about setting these standards? Would such standards be culture-dependent?
Not standards, exactly, but consensus. We need to adjust our desires to those of our neighbours, and the study of how things look and sound is part of it. That is why, in all towns where people wish to settle, there emerges an agreed repertoire of forms and styles. (Witness Lucca, Siena, Paris, Sanaa, Istanbul.)

Is there a relationship between beauty and perfection? And is there a concept of efficiency in beauty?
Yes, the first kind of beauty is also a perfection – the perfection of a Beethoven quartet or a Bernini fountain. But the second kind of beauty has less to do with perfection than with serenity: it is a way of reconciling us to our own imperfection, and helping us to live with the real while still loving the ideal.

I found it interesting how he says that the standard for beauty is really what is collectively agreed upon by society. I feel like this gives a lot more room to determining what is beautiful, and gets away a little bit from Carlson's implication that knowledge is required to truly appreciate the aesthetic value of nature.

Gardens (Blog 6)

I actually really liked Scruton haha.  I love people that like to think differently about things and I think he may be grasping at something I think is interesting and relevant, even though he is a bit of a contradiction of course.  Anyways, after class I started thinking about something which I think was propelled by Scruton's mixture of humans and nature and I'm not sure if this thought makes sense so forgive me if it doesn't.  I  just figured I would share it for my next blog.  
I have always had a real admiration for gardens.  I have always thought they are aesthetically appealing and someday I would like to have one in the backyard of my future house.  Anyways,  I was wondering if Gardens could be labeled as "Nature".  They are essentially driven from humans, or created by them.  However, gardens can grow and thrive on their own.  When I think about a tree in a garden, it can be planted by a human but can thrive on its own.  A planted seed can grow into a flower or weed, and can soak up water from rain (humans don't have to water it).  Furthermore, gardens can be planted around "natural" environments.  For example, one could make plans to plant flowers around a tree already living in the environment.  So, are gardens "Nature"?  I think so.  I think humans can be involved with Nature, or have a connection to it.  

Pretty garden I would like to saunter in.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blog 6

The video in class that we watched today with Scruton was exceptionally interesting to me. This man is supposedly a believer in aesthetic appreciation of nature and believes nature is aesthetically pleasing when it is untouched by human hands, but at the same time he is literally fox hunting and smoking a cigar... His defense for the fox hunting was that it was a group/social activity for the humans and it was good for the horses as well because they were riding together as if they were in a herd. I wonder what his response would be to smoking the cigar? I feel like there is a lot of contradiction with this man. Just because he writes profoundly in the philosophical world, shouldn't we look to his actions rather than his words? 

Carlson's Positive Aesthetics

As we have previously read from Carlson, he believes that nature can only be truly appreciated when common sense and scientific knowledge is applied.  When Carlson discusses positive aesthetics then in this selection, he applies this same need for knowledge.  As he says, we "must use scientific knowledge to discover and experience positive aesthetic value."  He starts by crushing all other theories of positive aesthetics, much like in the first piece of his that we read.  Then he proceeds to describe how his theory is the best.  While I agree that using knowledge can help with know what to appreciate in nature, I think that Carlson is closed minded.  He doesn't believe that one can appreciate nature without knowledge.  This means that children can't appreciate nature and I don't think that's true.  Even Emerson said we should look at nature through the eyes of a child.  So while Carlson's theory may be beneficial  I don't think it should be looked at exclusively.

Noel Carrol

I really liked the piece "On Being Moved by Nature; Between Religion and Natural History" by Noel Carrol.  The idea that emotion has been left out is a very good point. How can we appreciate anything without feeling something?  It is impossible, appreciation is a feeling.  Emotional response to nature therefore has to be taken into account.  I also like this theory because it isn't exclusive but instead can coexist with others.  Carlson, however, only had one understanding and that is that scientific knowledge leads to appreciation.  Carlson say other theories as incorrect.  Carrol, however, believed that this theory can be combined with others.  Scientific knowledge or the similarity to art could both cause an emotional response.  The emotional response could then cause an appreciation.  Carrol's essay for me, served as a link between what causes the appreciation to the actual appreciation and that link being emotion.

Blog 6

I really liked Saito. The way she brings up the other theories she isn't dissing them or talking down about how wrong she thinks they are in comparison to her own beliefs/theories. But she seems to put herself in their shoes and speak in understanding for why they think the way they do, and then delicately explains the faults she sees. It doesn't sound to me like she's saying everyone else is wrong with their ideas of the "appropriate aesthetic appreciation" but rather that they're own ideas are right for them and not necessarily the "correct" way for everyone else to follow. Everyone's personalities differ, and so do their ways of looking, observing, and appreciating different things.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blog 6: Coexisting Viewpoints

From what I gathered from the reading and, more so, from the class discussion I believe that Saito was not trying to completely dispel any particular model for the aesthetic appreciation of nature and, rather, just talked about the shortcomings of other models as she saw it. I find myself agreeing with this stance on the different models of aesthetic appreciation. I remember when I read the selection by Carlson I did not think that it was wise to commit entirely to one way of viewing the aesthetic appreciation of nature. I think that there are some models that are stronger than others, but I do not think that one person can say that any one view on this subject is objectively wrong. The way I see it, there are strong and weak points of every model of the aesthetic appreciation of nature that we have seen so far. Someone in class made the statement sometime last week that it should be up to each individual person as to how they have aesthetic experiences. I feel like this is the closest to the answer that we can get. I hope that this has not been just another rant or too much on a subject that we have moved on from, but this is what I am currently thinking about in my own mind.

Blog 6

I found Saito's reading interesting. Saito compared a lot of her beliefs with Carlson and Godlitch. To me it was confusing what she exactly talking about but I think she opposed Carlson? She spoke about normativity and "appropriate appreciation". I think her main outlook is put nicely on page 163, "The appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature, I have argued, must embody a moral capacity for recognizing and respecting nature as having its own reality apart from our presence, with its own story to tell."  In my interpretation this means we should look at each object with a different perspective.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Heart vs Mind

I may as well get blog #4 out of the way while I'm still riding out this burst of motivation.  Reading back I see that a lot of people made this post on Grizzly Man and I think I'll speak on that as well.

I am always both intrigued and disgusted with people like this.  It's an interplay that is psychologically interesting, the drama of the heart and the emotions vs the mind and rationality.  I have no doubt that the "Grizzly Man" Timothy Treadwell had an outstanding amount of knowledge about the bears he spent his life studying.  He went for so long without anything terrible happened and interacted with the animals intelligently, at least at first. His one weakness was that his emotions outweighed his logic as he spent more and more time studying the bears, to the point where he seemed to forget he wasn't one of them. If he'd thought with his mind rationally and not his heart, emotionally, he might have done so much more to help the bears and further his cause.

That's another point worth making: what has he done towards his cause?  I can think of more than one comedian or satirist who has used this story as the butt of a bad joke.  More people laugh about this story than inspired or moved, and that is the sad fact.  He has become another example of the "tree-hugging backwards touchy-feely environmentalist" stereotype.  Again, if he'd striven to use his special gift with the bears in a more logical, rational way, this might have been avoided, and have fueled more support for his cause rather than laughter at his expense.

The title of our book is "From Beauty to Duty".  This implies that instead of just getting caught up in the beauty of the environment, or the beauty of it's creatures, we should use that beauty to take action to preserve that beauty.  Timothy Treadwell started on the right path, seeking to protect the bears he so admired, but he got lost in his deep admiration for them, and acted in ways that were not logical or responsible.

Under the microscope

This post, my third blog, finally (procrastination and technology fails; it's a curse), will talk a little bit about how scientific knowledge can enhance your appreciation of the aesthetics of the natural world. I'm using the passage in the textbook about Leopold's "Land Aesthetic" and the above picture to sum up my reflections here.

What I appreciate most about Leopold and his idea of a land aesthetic, is his emphasis on the inherent qualities of the natural world.  The natural world is not always a pretty thing, but even the not-pretty parts of the environment might be necessary to maintaining the integrity of an ecosystem, or provide a service to the environment which makes it more beautiful. Most people hate spiders, but I love having them in my house in the summer because they catch the flies and mosquitoes that get in through the doors. Plus, they are adorable.

The above picture is an image of what sand looks like when placed under a microscope. To see sand on the beach, one might not think of it as "beautiful". It's brown, it's grainy, it gets everywhere, and there's just so darn much of it.  But when you take a tiny bit of it and look under a microscope you see the polished jewels and microscopic sea organism shells and skeletons, you find a beauty you might not expect.  Without scientific curiosity, there are so many aesthetic experiences we might miss out on.

Blog #5

For this blog I would like to add some input regarding an "appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature." In my opinion, there is no "appropriate" appreciation of anything. As an individual, one has different outlooks and reasons to why he or she prefers or appreciates a certain object. In the case of appreciating something such as nature, who are we to judge or belittle another's appreciation. Just because a person may not be educated or know the science behind what/how things happen in nature, doesn't mean there appreciation is illegitimate.

Yuriko Saito

Thus far in the semester, I think I'd like to rank Yuriko Saito's Appreciating Nature on its Own Terms as my second favorite passage, just behind Emerson.  In fact, I can find many similarities between the two passages.  Both attempt to rid the mind of past reservations (not past knowledge, but past opinions rather) and immerse oneself in your surroundings. The important part of Saito's teachings is to appreciate nature on its own terms.  Similar to ordering soup from Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, if one tries to "order" an aesthetic experience on their terms, it will not be provided.  However, we can appreciate that nature has its own story outside of ours.  Nature does things its own way, and if we can play by its rules, we can come out with a very meaningful experience.
Empathy is an important part of aesthetic experience.  We must have the ability to put ourselves in the place of nature in order the listen to its story because if we cannot hear its story, we cannot appreciate it.  Without empathy, nature's story may fall on deaf ears.  We may hear the story, but not understand.  I believe Saito is on the right track with her passage here.  Every piece of nature is different and it is up to us to discern why.  When we gain the ability to do so, our appreciation grows exponentially.

A Temporary Snow

I found our timing interesting the other day when we discussed Stan Godlovitch's Icebreakers within a few days of a snow that lasted a very short time.  I had a brief opportunity to take a few pictures of this snow that covered the ground and trees for a few hours then quickly melted away.

The snow was quite a beautiful sight, frosting the tops of the bare tree branches.  We know that it must melt away at some time, and it is not a very plausible idea to attempt to preserve the natural beauty of the snow.  Therefore, we appreciate the snow while we can - whether that be a few hour long window such as the one we experienced the other day or an entire, frigid season.  Besides, if we attempted to preserve the snow, that would leave no time for the beautiful flowers, leaves, and shoots that will cover these trees in a few months.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Blog 5

This week in class we watched a really interesting clip. It said that in order to understand why we are attracted to things today, we need to understand our own past ancestors. I thought it gave excellent examples, such as why humans love fatty or carb enriching foods. This is because thousands of years ago humans did not have rich food (for energy) readily available and when it was our ancestors would devour it. Another example given was certain cut diamonds or jewelry, which related back to our first hominid tools. Having a better understanding about our past/history allows people to a better appreciation of things and nature.

Blog 6: Sauron's Always Watching...... In Space!

Deep space is full of awesome and breathtaking environments.  This is an image of the Engraved Hourglass Nebula, which is only about 8,000 light-years away from us.  The fascinating and ominous image in this image is created from the expanding stellar winds reaching across space.

Setting aside the obvious lord of the rings references, the eye shape in this image evokes many different emotions.  At first it is unsettling, but then as you explore it more you find yourself in awe and amazement.  Maybe Sauron is hiding out there in space somewhere just waiting for that one ring to rule them all?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Blog #5

Although I find the video we watched in class today to be somewhat lacking in the completeness of its argument, it raised some good questions nonetheless. That being said, I don't know if I agree that aesthetic responses to what is beautiful are "pre-programmed" into our genetic code. The evidence for this lies in the fact that there are many different perceptions of what is beautiful. For instance, some people are repulsed by urban landscapes teeming with industry, while others immerse themselves in it and find it aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, some people couldn't be dragged to the country kicking and screaming because they feel it's too far removed from civilization and are unable to appreciate the serenity that this kind of environment can offer. If the predisposition to view things as beautiful was innate, I feel like there would be more commonality.

While I agree with science on the grounds that one must have a certain level of scientific knowledge in order to be able to fully appreciate the beauty that a landscape has to offer, I do not agree that recognizing the landscape as beautiful is an evolutionary trait. Evolution may have played a role, but in the grand scheme of things I think there is much more to the story. Nevertheless, the argument was quite compelling.

Blog #5

I feel like today in class was one of the days I disagree with the most. I think that the video we watched was wrong in many ways, mostly to do with what I believe religiously. I do not think that aesthetic appreciation has anything to do with instinct. I think that everyone thinks what they want to think and it is an individual's decision on what they see as appealing. Also I want to note how Carlson has a good point in knowing the science behind what one is seeing.  

Disappointment (Blog 5)

I am kind of disappointed with our class book in general thus far.  I feel like all of these philosophers are just  narrow, and I have yet to find a solid argument I really agree with.  While I do enjoy these different viewpoints I think there is something more, and that aesthetic appreciation is kind of a combination of all of them [I think this is what John was trying to say in class?].  I think this appreciation can come from within, it can be influenced by culture, or be enhanced/influenced by the knowledge of science, and that different people have different perceptions of what is aesthetic.  I keep waiting for a viewpoint that engages everything all at once but have not been satisfied, and it bothers me!  My favorite philosophy so far has been the "Engagement" model which I connect to the most, but at the same time I also think that we don't necessarily have to engage in an environment to appreciate something.  I can look at pictures and think things are beautiful and have an appreciation without actually going there.  Anyways, that's how I feel :p

Blog #5: Godlovitch

I just wanted to comment on the point of view that Godlovitch says we should take in the selection we read from him. As I understand it, Godlovitch says that we need to get rid of all centrisms (antthropocentrism, etc.) and that we should the point of view of nature (or the point of view of nothing as it was stated in class I believe). Well my question to this is simple, is attaining this point of view even possible? How can you have a point of view that is not natural and that humans do no not normally have? Even if one thinks that they have achieved this point of view, isn't it possible that they in fact haven't because they never have before and therefore cannot be sure when they actually get there? Hopefully my questions make sense. I am just trying to get at the point that I am not even sure that this point of view Godlovitch is talking about is possible to have. I'm leaning toward it not being possible.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

blog 5

I think Godlovitch's reading was confusing. It helped make it more clear when we discussed him in class but I still was a little unsure of what he was talking about. From what I understood, he says we should eliminate centrisms all together. Anthropocentrism is one example. Godlovitch rejects people like Carlson. He believes in acentric aesthetics. He mentions aesthetic aloofness and we should take out the I. We should view nature to where we dont matter. He talks about ice and how it can melt and go away. I think his point is that the ice is just as much a part of nature as anything else. Just because it could melt quickly and go away doesnt mean it is less significant than anything else.

Blog 5: A Recent Experience

Just a few days ago, a friend and I decided to take a run outside because it was such a nice day. We ran about three miles through Edgewood, and I was really surprised about all the natural beauty we found there. We found two parks, some beautiful landscaping, and just some little nooks and crannies that we found interesting. We passed the nature trail that Rachel mentioned in class, and maybe sometime soon I will have to venture out again and actually go down the trail. Even in the middle of town, I found that it was possible to find some really aesthetically pleasing and beautiful parts of nature. We were nowhere close to the wilderness, and yet, I felt closer with nature just by being outside and seeing new things. I find that I have been disconnected with the outside and nature, as are many other kids and young adults of our generation. Unfortunately, most of the time I can really relate to the quote by Nicholas Carr, “There is no Sleepy Hollow on the Internet, no peaceful spot where contemplativeness can work its restorative magic. There is only the endless, mesmerizing buzz of the urban street.”

 President's Park in Edgewood

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Its surprising how much you can't see when you are looking.

The works of Muir and of Thoreau remind me of a vivid event that I experienced as a child.  I was walking with my parents and brother on a ramble through Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, and as my brother was raising a huge fuss over something, I was hanging back behind the group. I loved being alone in the woods, there's so much to see and I loved the silence of the woods on a summer afternoon, broken only by distant cars, rustling leaves, and bird calls.

I was perturbed by the fit my brother was throwing because I was SURE I wasn't going to see any animals with that tantrum up ahead of me going on. So far all we'd seen were small birds, a hawk far far overhead, turkey vultures, and maybe some rabbits or squirrels. All of those a noble and essential in their own right, but that's not what 10 year old me wanted to see. Coyotes, owls, foxes, deer- to me, that was where it was at.

However, nature did not let me down. I can only guess it was my brother's racket that stirred it out of hiding, but all of the sudden in a brown flash much like the picture below, a deer came busting out of the woods, crossed the trail RIGHT in front of me, knocking me down. I was so scared but so excited and happy.

This isn't entirely an aesthetic experience of a landscape, but the piece on "Walking" into nature and escaping the everyday by Thoreau and the experiences Muir had when he escaped the artists who only wanted a brief, familiar experience of nature make me think of this story.  I wanted to see a certain picture of nature, and I was letting my experience be shaped by disappointment.  It took a surprise near run-in with a deer to help me realize that nature will reveal itself to you when you aren't limited by what you expect or want to see. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blog 5: A Giants Chess Board

This area is located in the state of Montana.  When they were building railroads to the west the government wanted to help support them, so they gave the railroad companies multiple square sections to build in.  The result is what you see here, the dark sections are forest areas that were not cut down and the white sections are the areas made for the railroads.

The effect that man can have on nature can also produce mind blowing results.  Natures work is on a grand scale, and when man crafts its way through that grand area a mark is left.  In this case man has left a giant checker board.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Blog 4

I know a lot of people that see places that are ran down & abandoned as ugly but I find these places to be aesthetically pleasing. I don't know why, but it makes me think, what memories that people shared here? I also find that winter can give a creepy, eerie feel and I find that pleasing. I truly agree that each person holds their own identities that they find beautiful. Here are two abandoned spots I found that would describe what I was just saying.

Blog 3

One place that I have found to be an enjoyable spot to be alone with one's thoughts is a park alongside the Ohio River. I'm not exactly sure what the park is called or if it can really be called a park or a parking lot. I cannot seem to locate a name for it. The area itself can be found in Covington, just below the Roebling Suspension Bridge near a former boat tour landing that now reads "CLOSED FOR REPAIRS" and has for some time now. However the important part of this place is that not many people know of it or rather, not many people care to go there if they do know of it. It is a place to hide from humanity where humanity thrives. A place "hidden in plain view" if you will. It's a great place to stop by for a few minutes, enjoy the little bit of aesthetic quality that remains, and hide from all of life's unanswered questions rather than ponder them. I'm sure it was once a great place to ride a tour boat from.

Grizzly men and women

Throughout our remembered history, there have been a number of people who put themselves into the wild, into the path of danger, in order to interact with plants, animals, and others of the natural world.  The danger sometimes wins, as in the case of Timothy Treadwell and other notables such as Steve Irwin.  But sometimes, these crazy nature nuts live long, successful lives.  One that comes to mind is Jeff Corwin, animal and nature conservationist who ran an Animal Planet children's television show and now lives a quiet life with his family and his gobs of money.  Some might say that these folks are crazy for putting themselves in the way of danger (even Jeff Corwin had a bad experience in which an elephant threw him into a pond and he blacked out), but aren't we a part of the animal kingdom as well?  Human beings are pretty high up on the food chain so shouldn't the bears, manta rays, and elephants run from us?  A poster that I came across for The Grizzly Man reads "In nature there are boundaries.  One man spent the last thirteen years of his life crossing them."  In my opinion, this is what it all boils down to.  These people do what they do for a good cause - they truly mean well.  Yet, there are boundaries and they cross them, good reason or not.  Our ancestors had enough respect for the power of these animals to avoid them, and we should too, lest we follow the tragic path of Timothy Treadwell.
Tony Schroth

Ralph Waldo Emerson on kosmos

Since I cannot possibly hope to contain all of my thoughts on Emerson's The Nature of Beauty within this blog, I'll focus on what I thought of his section that included the ancient Greeks.  We tend to think of the ancient Greeks as pretty smart fellows.  They did a lot of thinking, albeit a lot of fighting, but most importantly, they had an enormous respect for the arts.  Beauty was a large part of their lives - man-made and nature-made.  According to Emerson, the Greeks referred to the world as kosmos which could be translated to beauty.  What greater respect for natural beauty could we find than naming the globe afterall that is beautiful?  While Emerson does not discuss in length the meaning of kosmos, I believe a lesson can be learned from his mention.  The human eye, in our time, must be trained to look at nature as an end rather than a means to an end.  We must teach ourselves to appreciate nature for nature, not for what we can get out of it.
Tony Schroth

Monday, February 4, 2013

Blog #4

Last week we watched the movie Grizzly Man which depicted the life of bear enthusiast and naturalist, Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell lost his life in his 13th year in Alaska doing something that he loved. Unfortunately, his death shows that "wild" animals and humans are not meant to be intertwined, especially an animal such as a grizzly bear. Throughout the course of the movie, it becomes evident that he had lost himself in his work which proved to be inspiring yet ultimately is was so risky that it cost him his life.

Blog #3

For Blog #3 I thought it would be appropriate for me to discuss the class in which we talked about Thoreau and Muir. The reading about Muir appealed to me a lot more then that of Thoreau's section. Muir was obviously a lover of the outdoors which was seen in his actions (specifically when taking students into the mountains). Overall, I feel as though Muir had a thought process which appealed to me especially in the sense of enjoying and appreciating  the beauty that the outdoors has to offer.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

blog 4

In this blog I wanted to discuss the movie we watched in class, the grizzly man. While we were watching the film I thought it was interesting that this man was involved with cohabitation with grizzly bears. I thought it was a new and intriguing way to view nature and was a way to truly see nature without human hands being involved. I did not realize that this man died during his thirteenth summer in Alaska by the bears he was studying until later in the film. I think people truly noticed his work due to his unfortunate passing. After the watching the movie, a student said something interesting that I had not thought of and that was that this man lost himself in nature. He no longer was experiencing nature from an outside perspective to gain knowledge, but rather lost himself in nature and his work. I feel as though if he would of stayed cognitive of the fact that he was human and could die at any second due to the wild nature of these animals, he could still be alive today.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Blog #4: Grizzly Man

I think there is a certain respect for wild animals that is lost due to the exploitation of wildlife in places such as the zoo or aquarium. Think about it; if you turn on your television you can see ads for things such as the "Penguin Encounter" at the Newport Aquarium where you can literally touch and hold penguins. People take vacations and go down in shark cages to watch them eat. There are ziplines built in exotic places so one can literally be "in the middle" of the wildlife. Although I love the zoo, I think to an extent it's a mockery of these wild animals and it desensitizes people to the real dangers they pose.

Take this for example:

While we can all agree that this is cute on some level, I find it semi disturbing. This baby, dressed in a black and white hoodie and very much resembling a zebra (the prey for this lion,) is sitting in front of glass just an inch or two thick while the lion literally attempts to eat him. These are wild animals, and in my opinion exploitation has made people forget how dangerous they can be and lose that sense of awe that comes from seeing something so beautiful and dangerous.

Sorry, I got off on a tangent there. The point is I think Timothy Treadwell (Grizzly Man) fell into this fallacy. Although I certainly respect what he did,  it was not a smart thing to do. He went down the way of Steve Irwin... Humans have no business putting themselves directly in the habitat of wild animals in that way. All animals have the predator/prey instinct, even a domestic house cat will torture and kill a mouse or other small woodland creatures before coming home and crawling in bed with you at night to warm your feet.

As mentioned before, Treadwell did appear to have some kind of neurosis as well, as by the end of his film he seemed to think he WAS a bear, and not just living WITH the bears. My hope for society is that these incidents (and the images even) can instill that "fear" back into people (although it's really more a sense of respect/reverence than fear.) By putting himself with the bears he not only endangered himself and his girlfriend, but the bears themselves. This story was a tragedy from all angles.

Chapters 5&6 (Blog #4)

Chapters 5 and 6 have been my favorite so far in our book.  I think they are filled with lots of good points and arguments for the aesthetics of Nature.  In "The Art of Seeing Things" I really liked  Burrough's example about how his boy can see ducks and he can't because the boy "thinks ducks and dreams ducks" and that no two persons see exactly the same "rays" of the rainbow.  I think depending on what we are attracted to we tend to go in search of it, even in Nature.  I have an attraction to water, and tend to go toward it wherever I am in Nature.  It made me upset when he mentioned that some people have an "eye for four-leaved clovers" because I have gone out searching for them on numerous occasions and have yet to find a single one!  That is so not fair.

I also really liked "A Taste for Country".  I love this quote: "In country, as in people, a plain exterior often conceals hidden riches".  I think there is definitely a connection between land and the life inside it which gives it an aesthetic appeal.  I started thinking about the desert, which on the outside appears to be sublime and abandoned or even "scary".  However, if you really look at it you can see the various life forms.  All the different animals and plants make up the desert too, and together they are beautiful.

Typical things in the desert

Blog #4: Reflections on The Grizzly Man

Before Wednesday's class I had never even heard of Tim Treadwell. While I was watching the film I kept thinking that this did not feel like it was real. I mean people just don't do that kind of thing and at times I almost felt like his videos were fake or a joke. However, while I feel that Treadwell was really out there and a little crazy with how far he took his love for grizzly bears, I can respect the footage and some of the incredibly beautiful scenes that he captured. Never in my life have I seen images of bears or even foxes from that close up. The one that absolutely astounded me the most was the clip where Treadwell was in an open field and a bear approached him and he stuck his hand out and the bear was smelling his finger just like a little house dog would do. I watched that part in complete awe because I have just never seen anything like it before. So while I would NEVER even consider doing what Tim Treadwell did for so many summers, I can honestly say that I enjoyed his footage and I respect that because I do not think that it is possible to capture some of that beauty like he did unless you are crazy and do ridiculous things.