“Wilderness,” in The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought
Houghton Mifflin, 1998
pp. 245 - 247
P. 245 “The oldest anecdotes from which we know ourselves as human, the stories of Genesis, make it clear that our defects are sufficient to bring the whole world down. For decades, environmentalists have concerned themselves with this spill and that encroachment, this depletion and that extinction, as if such phenomena were singular and exceptional. Our causes have even jostled for attention, each claiming a special urgency. This is, I think, like quarreling over which shadow brings evening.” P. 246 Utah, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico–wilderness is where people want to hide things, like nuclear weapons and nuclear waste. Hide them not only from “foreign enemies” but also from “domestic critics.” Those who live in the wilderness are “poor and scattered” and don’t count so much as critics. But even the wilderness itself can accept insult and contain it only to a degree. P. 247 Utah is holy land to Mormons, and a nuclear waste dump to the rest of us.