As a true testament to my general all around lameness, I have typed up an excerpt to some literature that I found interesting. All this action on a Saturday evening.

A short excerpt from “Literature Unnatured” by Joy Williams from American Short Fiction as highlighted by the Best American Nonrequired Reading (2007):

Thomas Pynchon, who deemed Nature “lovable and scatterbrained,” wrote in Gravity’s Rainbow, “We are obsessed with building labyrinths where before there was open plain and sky. To draw ever more complex patterns on the blank sheet.”

The sheet gets blanker with each day. There’s more of us – human beings – and less of everything else. We are living the chronicle of deaths foretold. That we live in a world radically, rapidly decreasing in biodiversity is inarguable. Biodiversity. A word as lively as a blown light bulb. Where’s the zing? Where’s the Punch and Beauty? It’s a word closed to metaphor. The terror, the importance, the hugeness behind the word is barely implied. Biodiversity is indeed not oxymoronic, like Wildlife Museum, but there’s a certain contradictory inertness, a deadness about it. We use language to conceal, distort, and subvert the reality of many things, a great many things, and flattened terms like environment and biodiversity are words thrust in an ever-reductive context of cant. They’re words that have lost their juice, their power. Once Nature becomes Environment she became semantically much diminished, as befitted her humbled station. The grandeur was gone. It became just a matter of politics. The environment became society, was society. It could be friendly or controlled, hostile or unstable, but it was primarily anthropocentric and generously relative in its applicability. Like our state forests, those lands of many uses, many not so ecologically benign – Environment, as a concept, is utilitarian. There’ s the home environment, of course, the workplace, the school. There’s the environment of Wall Street and the CIA. Natural becomes one prefix among many. An environment that’s “natural” has already sidled away from Nature some. It has come to mean, sort of, not the same thing. It’s something to locate between the tennis courts and the condos. Something that hasn’t been drilled or mined or dammed yet, but exists, rather in the wondrous state of pre-becoming – drilled or mined or dammed. It’s already on the grid, the graph, but isn’t being used…for now.

The excerpt choice is probably inappropriate since the meat of the piece happens after this introduction. So read the rest if it interested you in this years Best American Nonrequired Reading.

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