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Essay: The Ecological Self by John Seed

The Trumpeter ISSN: 0832-6193 Volume 22, Number 2 (2006) The Ecological Self John Seed

In this article John explores some of the key issues in deep Ecology, his own experience as an activist and facilitator of the work.

In the 1970s, when Jerry Brown was Governor of California, the eco-poet Gary Snyder was working in his administration. One day Gov. Brown felt exasperated. He said to Snyder: “Gary, why is it that, whatever the issue, you are always going against the flow?” Gary replied: “Jerry, what you call ‘the flow’ is just a 16,000 year eddy; I’m going with the actual flow!” The deep, long-range ecology movement is based on a feeling for nature that sees the environmental crisis as a symptom of a psychological or spiritual ailment that afflicts modern humanity in technological societies. We moderns are enveloped by an illusion of separation from nature, made more extreme by anthropocentrism or human first centredness. Supporters of the deep, long-range ecology movement critique the idea that we are the crown of creation, and the measure of all beings. We tend to think that the world is a pyramid with humanity rightly on top: that nature is merely a resource and that it has only instrumental value. To maintain such a position, we have to ignore our own deeper feelings that our poets remind us of.

John Seed