Dennis Gravey

Camping


ISSUE 67 | CAMP | AUG 2016

“Isn’t it amazing,” she said, “that all of it is from the mountain? The volcanic rock, the water, the soil for the tree.” And the energy, captured in glacial altitudes, and released in rushing rivers dammed for electricity to power the homes of the campers who retreat to the hydroelectric reservoirs for peace from electric lives.

Small bands of humans jaunt across the land aiming for a convening with nature aiming to find serenity, silence, and sublimity. But the city still ruins the view of the stars, and humans are on the water at day break in motorboats killing fish, and the gash of clear-cuts on the horizon, and the lake by the maintained campsite is at bottom a drowned forest.

Call it unnatural, artificial. But in aluminum hulls, dynamos, light emitting diodes, carbon nanofiber, waterproof matches, paper mills there is nothing beyond nature. In physics, infinite solutions to equations are quickly deemed “unphysical,” and flagged as a point for the theory to be improved. While in life, one cannot escape the lawfulness of the world. Nature, including what we want to call the unhuman, is clearly already for us. It offers no opposition to, or exclusion of us. It presupposes our incorporation. But the majestic volcano will bury a valley cottage in three hundred feet of ash, and spectral owls can crush a human skull, and when the dam breaks a wall of water obliterates the valley. Nature, including the power we imagine is our own, is clearly beyond us, and above us.

The call of the mountain is a call to ethics. We can imagine a battle against the beyond and aim our will at victory. Or we can commit to the beyond for us, That is peculiar to nature. And know it calls for care, and a devoted tending that aims at a goodness beyond for its own sake.

Meanwhile, campers smell like fire while they admire the products of lava flows that incinerated the forests.