Nature Porn


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I just went to Yosemite for the first time. It’s a beautiful place in that dappled valley, with the myriad histories witnessed by those glaciated rock walls extending from the world renowned exploits of Camp 4-based climbers to the natives who once summered there, the maize ground by squaws atop rocks. But I have to say that as much as I enjoyed my stay there, and hiking up its steep winding trails, the domestication and Disneylandification of the valley left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

I understand that the wonderous wilderness should be able to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. But I had the feeling that something sacred was being desecrated by such a wide-open welcoming of the masses. I had the feeling that maybe some things of natural and rare beauty demand a sacrifice to be viewed appropriately. Simply being able to drive right up to Glacier Point takes away from that feeling of awe and appreciation that is felt after one has hiked up to its inclusive viewpoint. And in the valley, there are houses, a courthouse, and a supermarket. There is a bus system that was making its night rounds completely devoid of passengers but right on time (if only South Lake Tahoe had a bus system as reliable and efficient as that). Ever since the valley’s wresting from the Native Americans by greedy, unscrupulous gold diggers, the magical valley has been used more as a profit-generating resort for urban tourists than experienced as the sacred, pristine example of divinity that it is. I would rather not see busloads of Japanese tourists snapping picture after endless picture of El Capitan. I would rather not see suburban-bred pasty people who can’t walk one mile to save their life eating candybars and ogling at bears. And while I understand that the age of enjoying forested areas devoid of insensitive human life has long since passed before I was ever conceived, it still irks me when I see a gorgeous natural place made out to be Disneyland.

I guess that’s the flip-side of the coin in an age where we expect and demand instantaneous gratification, communication, and information. We don’t want to work at understanding the depth, history, or complex beauties of the world around us–we just want to point and click. We want to disembark out of the plane, off the bus, or out the station wagon and say we came, we saw, and we conquered. Come to Yosemite for some good nature porn!

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

1 thought on “Nature Porn”

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