Robinson Jeffers - An Environmental Pioneer

Robinson Jeffers - An Environmental Pioneer

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In his poem The Answer, Robinson Jeffers writes, ."..know that however ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful...the greatest beauty is organic wholeness...Love that, not man apart from that." Throughout his life, Robinson Jeffers tries to prove his environmental theories and his beliefs in "inhumanism" and "ecocentricism" and urges everyone to start living a life closer to Nature, the origin of all things on Earth. He has done so by setting himself as the best example - living a life near the sea without even the most essential house appliances like electricity and enjoy most of his time just being close to Nature, where his inspirations for poetry writings come from. All of poems he writes are filled with his attitude towards the dominant world view of Nature and his theory of how we should interact with our environment.

First of all, Jeffers stresses the importance of realizing the beauty of our physical world as a whole; human beings are just a tiny part of it, along with animals and plants. All the complications of our lives can be spared if we can acknowledge how bad we are harming Nature. According to Jeffers, human beings are self-centered and too involved with each other to have any time left to appreciate what Nature has sacrificed for our luxurious lives. Jeffers wrote in Carmel Point that "We must uncenter our minds from ourselves; we must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident as the rock and ocean that we were made from." We find similar message from Sign-Post where Jeffers implies that humans should "Turn outward, love things, not men...now you are free, even to become human, but born of the rock and the air, not of a woman." Through his poems we can also get a sense of feeling that Jeffers believes we can be better, happier person with more successes if our interaction with Nature can be altered from the dominant view where human beings are always the priority in every circumstance.

Even though Jeffers believes all the complications in our lives are pulling us away from Nature, he doesn't deny the fact that understanding science will help us understand the natural world better. However, Jeffers points out that science have its limitation; no matter how advanced it is or will be in the future, it will never be able to explain fully how exactly Nature works unless you experience it on your own.

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Just as he writes in Science, "Man...being taken up like a maniac with self-love and inward conflicts cannot manage his hybrids...Now he's bred knives on nature turns them also inward." Besides, by the way science is used in the world today, we should really think about whether more scientific advancements might be needed.

The ideas presented by Jeffers are very similar to Native Americans' view of Nature, as described in Leslie Marmon Silko's Landscape, History, and the pueblo Imagination. Pueblo People believe that human beings are just a part of the Nature, along with all other life forms. They, too, believe that all things in the world are related to each other because we are all originated from within the Earth, which is exactly one of the important messages Jeffers tries to give through his writings. In both Arne Naess and Bill Devall & George Sessions' essays about deep ecology, they both question, like Jeffers does, whether the complication of our modern lives is necessary. Bill Devall and George Sessions go further to claim that our society is filled with propaganda which encourages false needs simply for economic purposes; it corresponds to Jeffers' argument of us being trapped in the nets of self-gain and excessive luxuries.

Overall, I think Jeffers deserves his place in the fifty key thinkers on the environment because not only does he present his ideas to the public, he actually lives up to his beliefs in reality and leads a simple life, harming Nature as least as possible. Even though his ideas may sometimes seem too extreme, like when he claims we should all see Earth as our mother instead of the women who gave birth to us. But his ideas bring about the public awareness of our incorrect interaction with the natural world. Although it is impossible for all of us complex human beings to live up to the simple life Jeffers lives, it gives us an idea of the importance of changing our thoughts into actions and start appreciating and respecting our environment with love.

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