A few months ago, I was reading an essay that cited John Muir and for unknown reasons felt more acutely than normal how much I’d loved him and his sensibilities. So, I pulled down the first book of his I’d ever read, the initial introduction occurring in 1988 as I was considering a dissertation topic; it was My First Summer in the Sierra and once again I lit up with pleasure at how he engaged with the mountains and how he expressed it. For whatever reasons, I was more receptive and, I suppose, needful of hearing his voice once again. It led me to thinking about his way and the ideas of animism and panpsychism, which I still need to give more attention to. I recoil at the misused and overused accusation of anthropomorphism that is often flung at him and people like him who identify closely with natural facts, events, processes, beauty, beings—and who say so in colorful language that fails to honor the specialness of humans and our sole possession of all the finer feelings, behaviors, and intentions of this Earth, or so the accusers think. I should probably worry at least a little that I needed to be provoked into recognizing my need for a Muirian type infusion but instead I’m grateful to have recognized it.

Photo by Roland Schumann on Unsplash


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