Nature is recreational, symbolic, and discursive. Writer Edward Abbey refers to this when he speaks of places of resistance. The term resistance however, like ‘progressive’, is used in propaganda terms. Resisting what, who, and why, and progressing towards what? The words summarise an emotional attitude more than ideas.
The ‘outdoors’ often gets spliced onto so called working class polemic with inbuilt notions of inequality. I’ve seen arguments from a writer with roots in so called working class Peak District climbing – cloth cap men from Manchester – against so called metropolitans like Robert Macfarlane. The latter is deemed inauthentic as a Cambridge lecturer with a media presence. I’ve seen parallel arguments about nature writing. One writer says you can’t write like that, the other says yes I can. Authenticity is the theme again. Are you immersed in nature or is it afternoon entertainment before a wine bar evening.
The point about resistance is important because natural spaces are free from the politics we dislike. For me that means the entirety of politics. The Left claim to offer forward advance but in terms of tribal conformism. The ideology is quasi religious, their identity maintained by falsely demonising others who are “incorrect.”
A writer called Alexander Herzen said “It takes wit and courage to make our way while our way is making us, with no consolation to count on but art and the summer lightning of personal happiness.” I add nature as another consolation, implied in the term summer lightning. I’ve seen Herzen described as follows:
Remembered for his rejection of corrupt government of any political persuasion and for his support for individual rights. A Hegelian in his youth, this translated into no specific theory or single doctrine dominating his thought. Herzen came to believe the complex questions of society could not be answered and that Russians must live for the moment and not a cause, essentially life is an end in itself. Herzen found greater understanding by not committing himself to an extreme but rather lived impartially enabling him to equally criticise competing ideologies. Herzen believed that grand doctrines ultimately result in enslavement, sacrifice and tyranny…The words of Herzen that Isaiah Berlin repeated most insistently were those condemning the sacrifice of human beings on the altar of abstractions, the subordination of the realities of individual happiness or unhappiness in the present to glorious dreams of the future
Chorlton Meadows Stories
Thursday January 14, 2016