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Encounters with the Archdruid John McPhee Presented by: Emily Krodel September 20, 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "Encounters with the Archdruid John McPhee Presented by: Emily Krodel September 20, 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 Encounters with the Archdruid John McPhee Presented by: Emily Krodel September 20, 2005

2 JOHN A. McPHEE Born in 1931 Educated at Princeton & Cambridge Began writing for Time magazine, New Yorker 29 books 1977 received Award in Literature from American Academy of Arts and Letters 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Annals of the Former World – “It’s pretty nice.”

3 MORE McPHEE Widely considered pioneer of the genre of literary non- fiction (New Journalism) Subjects are eclectic, reflecting his personal interests… aircraft, arc of tennis balls, canoes, farmers’ markets, MS River, geology, Alaskan wilderness, oranges Married twice – Yolanda!; 4 daughters Distinguished nonfiction writing instructor at Princeton – still teaches at 74

4 EVEN MORE McPHEE Despite a voluminous production, as a person he remains elusive Modest – nothing more than an “old journalist” Loves rivers and the outdoors – probably leans toward conservationist side, but depicts both sides equally well Curious – practices the art of “immersion”

5 Encounters with the Archdruid McPhee’s 7 th book, published in 1971 Won the National Book Award - category of science Personalities of both sides of the American environmentalist movement Depicts the complexities of ecological issues Profiles famous conservationist David Brower

6 Composed of 3 distinct sections –Cascades with Charles Park… mineral engineer –Hilton Head/Cumberland Island with Charles Fraser… resort developer –Colorado River with Floyd Dominy… dam builder Common character in each is David Brower (and John McPhee) Spend time in the outdoors, “discussing” philosophies and environmental practices

7 ENVIRONMENTALIST MOVEMENT first became active in U.S. politics after Earth Day in 1970. –Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act –EPA: Environmental Protection Agency –Wastes, toxic substances, pesticides, endangered animals Most activism directed towards conservation and prevention/elimination of pollution As population and industry increase, conflicts with libertarians and corporate interests

8 DAVID BROWER 1912-2000 The Archdruid himself –“druids” – slang term for environmentalists who will sacrifice people to save trees Most notable conservationist of all time Born in Berkely –Isolated childhood –Nicknamed “toothless boob” –Mother blind, led her around –Family camping trips Dropped out of college to become a mountaineer WWII, mountain division Married Anne Hus in 1941

9 BROWER Single handedly saved many beloved places in U.S. – deserves respect Knowledgeable and committed Concerned with long-term effects of human change to the earth But stubborn with simplistic arguments, figures can be skewed –Reservoirs will fill with silt, but not for a long time –Italy dam disaster – didn’t really break Lives in a house – hypocritical? Sometimes doesn’t consider very real human needs –Water for people in the desert

10 SIERRA CLUB Sierra Club –Executive director ’52-’69 –Membership 7,000 to 70,000 –Books – exquisite collection of photographs –His cup –Was ousted from office, 10 to 5: too radical, spent too much money, too selfish, not in tune with the Club anymore, and immigration viewpoints. Also in 1969, founded Friends of the Earth –Kicked out of this too –Largest environmental group in the world Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize 3 times – ’78, ’79, ‘98

11 THE SERMON “The U.S. has 6% of the world’s population and uses 60% of the world’s resources. When one county gets more than its share, it builds tensions. War is waged over resources.” “We have to drop our standard of living, so that people a thousand years from now can have any standard of living at all.” (gas, oil) “Roughly 90% of the earth has felt man’s hand already. That’s the limit. We should go back over the 90 and not touch the remaining 10%.” “When rampant growth happens in an individual, we call it cancer.” “Conservationists have to win again and again and again. The enemy only has to win once.”

12 GLACIER PEAK WILDERNESS/ CASCADE RANGE Washington Wilderness Act 1964 – Congress set aside certain regions as “permanent wilderness”. No national park, no machines, no lumbering –Mining exception Copper lode.5mi square

13 CHARLES PARK… Geologist, mineral engineer “Minerals are where you find them. The quantities are finite. So you go and get them wherever they are located.” Hunted for copper, silver, gold Doesn’t like Sierra Club – accuses of being preservationists, not conservationists. Says you can’t avoid change. “My idea of conservation is complete use of resources, with as little waste as possible, for the benefit of all the people.”

14 vs. DAVID BROWER “The Glacier Peak Wilderness is probably the most beautiful piece of country we’ve got. Mining copper there would be like hitting a pretty girl in the face with a shovel.” Mining would leave a path of destruction, waste dump… recommends recycling Ecosystem is delicate, disruption would be severe Wilderness is the bank for the genetic variability of the earth. However, got excited when he found copper pebbles in a stream “Conservation is humanity caring for the future.”

15 HILTON HEAD Sea Pines Plantation Complete control Buildings all blend into environment Houses far from ocean

16 CUMBERLAND ISLAND Hammond’s map didn’t include it – deliberate omission Population of 11 Wild horses and pigs, 14 ft alligators, fertile soil, no bridge Carnegies Fraser obtained 3000 acres Toured it with Brower and McPhee Gave it up b/c of pressure from druids Developed, popular tourist site now JFK, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette married there in ’96

17 CHARLES FRASER Visionary – wanted to create something beautiful… had idea for Sea Pines Plantation at 21. Yale Law School Locally, considered a major and absolute nut Considers himself a true conservationist. Others more like preservationists; calls them druids, so Brower should be his #1 enemy Cocky: “I’m the golden boy of the Golden Isles.” Died in a boating explosion off coast of Provo in Dec. 02

18 vs. DAVID BROWER Makes his typical comments, but surprisingly supportive Liked youthfulness of Fraser and prospect of the island being focused toward children – thought they would do better with the earth Was enjoying himself on new territory and lapsed into uncharacteristic passivity – wouldn’t even call him a druid Even wanted to reverse his 90:10 philosophy! “If it had to be developed, I’m glad it was developed by him.” Eventually started talking about conserving the marshes, went into the Sermon, Fraser ignored him

19 FLOYD DOMINY Began job as a county agent during the Great Drought Obsessed with irrigation and dams Profound, lifelong belief in the storage of water Head of Dept. of Reclamation ’59- ’71. “Reclamation is the father of putting water to work for man – irrigation, hydropower, flood control, recreation.” Responsible for many dams, notably Glen Canyon Dam/Lake Powell – Colorado River Wanted to flood the Grand Canyon “Let’s USE our environment.”

20 CONSERVATIONISTS AND DAMS Analogy: outermost circle of Devil’s world is a moat filled with DDT. Next to it, a moat of burning gasoline. Then a ring of pinheads, each covered with a million people. Bulldozers and chainsaws lead into the absolute epicenter of Hell on earth, where stands a dam. Hold themselves in reasonable check before new oil spills, but go insane at even the THOUGHT of a dam. Rivers are the ultimate metaphor of existence, and dams destroy rivers. Threat to ecosystems and species (condors)

21 vs. DAVID BROWER Got along pretty well despite their opposing views – joking insults “I hate all dams, large and small.” “You can’t duplicate this experience – this lake – anywhere else. But neither can you enjoy the original experience.” Ends up saying that he’s not in favor of dams, but he’s in favor of Dominy And then, “Putting water in Glen Canyon was like urinating on the crypt of St. Peter’s. I hope it never happens here (Grand Canyon).”


23 LAKE POWELL 600,000 people a year use this lake now… used to just be a handful

24 WHAT SHOULD WE DO? People are caught in the middle –Want to be conservationists, but also need power and water Vote always about 50:50 –Schoolchildren: houses on a beach? Mining copper? Building a dam in the CO River?

25 OPINIONS Interesting, well-written, and descriptive (similes, metaphors) Well-developed characters Forces you to pick a side, but doesn’t make it “good vs. evil” Quite outdated –Prices ($25 for a book was an “investment”, Hilton Head condos) –Baltimore Colts

26 CONNECTIONS Sierra Club “aesthetic” at least 8 times Personal ones – Hilton Head, esp. Review paper last week – Pacific salmon and riparian environments Ecology with Dr. Hochwender –Presently talking about how riparian environments are negatively influenced by dams Sorry, no Gilgamesh ones


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