THE PRACTICE OF THE WILD: Essays by Gary Snyder


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Beat-Zen poet Snyder delivers his first nonfiction book in more than a decade, a collection of nine eccentric pieces on man and nature, some reprinted from Sierra magazine, Antaeus, etc. These essays are as hard to pin down as the wild animals that Snyder champions, leaping as they do from Japanese history to radical environmentalism to a theory of poetics. ""Etiquette of Freedom"" investigates the meaning of ""wild"" and ""free,"" with an excursion into Chinese etymology, and tells us that ""an ethical life is one that is mindful, mannerly, and has style."" ""The Place, the Region, and the Commons"" declares that every place has its place and plugs for bioregionalism. ""Tawny Grammar"" mulls over various forms of language, including dance. ""Good, Wild, Sacred"" celebrates shrines and the Australian dreamtime, ""Blue Mountains Constantly Walking"" looks at sacred geography. Other essays touch on ancient forests, memories of Snyder's youthful logging days and his Zen apprenticeship, the love of craftsmanship; ""The Woman Who Married a Bear"" is a notable retelling of a popular Native American folk-tale. Invariably, Snyder sings the praises of animals, condemns industrial development, urges a return to a simpler, earthbound life, and scorns the contributions of Western culture. His viewpoint, a natural if extreme extrapolation from the Beat and hippie movements, unfortunately finds voice far too often in preachy moralizing (""we must try not to be stingy, or to exploit others""; ""we need to make a world-scale 'Natural Contract' with the oceans, the air, the birds in the sky,"" etc.). Snyder's prose has finally assumed the features of that mythical Coyote he celebrates so often: clever, renegade, prone to howling.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1990
ISBN: 1582439354
Publisher: North Point