The Trouble with Wilderness by William Cronon

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In his essay W. Cronon considers the notion and concept of wilderness from a different angle than we are usually accustomed to. He shows how the meaning of wilderness has undergone a significant change from being initially simple 'wasteland' to its present connotation of the place where a person can finally escape the modern world, the only place allegedly not touched by men.


Cronon indicates the main ones, which are 'the sublime and the frontier'. The tenet of the sublime represents wilderness as an abode of supernatural, a place to which saints and mystics retreat in search of spiritual accomplishment, some territory where boundary between worldly and spiritual terrains is blurred. Thus wilderness acquires the quality of something special, rare, even sacred and is not just the space to be used for development and construction as it used to be thought of initially. Apart from the sublime, there's also the concept of the frontier - the feeling that the rescue from all troubles of civilization can be found far away from the latter, in wild lands. This is especially true for the American people, for whom wilderness also becomes a place of "national renewal, the quintessential location for experiencing what it meant to be an American". Preserving wilderness for them is, in a way, a matter of preserving their history, their past. The fast disappearing frontier is considered to offer the only natural, free and true way of living, on the other hand, modernity grows to represent all that's artificial, false and aggressive.
Later on, wilderness takes on another meaning and becomes place to get peace, rest ...
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