Visionary author Paul Hawken shares his understanding of the word “wild,” emphasizing its positive attributes and contrasting it with what he sees as truly “crazy.”
What is Wild?
Jack Turner has tracked down a reference in Thoreau’s “Fact-book” the word “wild” as “the past participle of to will, self-willed.” The wild, then, is the self-willed, that which lives out of its own intrinsic nature rather than bowing to some extrinsic force. What counts as wildness and wilderness is determined not by the absence of people, but by the relationship between people and place. A place is wild when its order is created according to its own principles of organization—when it is self-willed land. Native peoples usually…”fit” that order, influencing it but nor controlling it.
The basic idea of ecopsychology is that while the human mind is shaped by the modern social world, it can be readily inspired and comforted by the wider natural world, because that is the arena in which it originally evolved. Mental health or unhealth cannot be understood in the narrow context of only intrapsychic phenomena or social relations. One also has to include the relationship of humans to other species and ecosystems. These relations have a deep evolutionary history; reach a natural affinity within the structure of their brains and they have deep psychic significance in the present time, in spite of urbanization. Humans are dependent on healthy nature not only for their physical sustenance, but for mental health, too.
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