The Same River Twice: Nature, Identity and the Canadian Landscape
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This Major Paper is offered in the context of an ongoing journey, several expeditions, concurrent passages. Traveling over, around and inside thoughts, words and lived experiences, it examines notions of wilderness and human relations with the natural world. Situated in the context of wilderness environments in Ontario, this paper is an account of contacts between the author and her home through literary representations, relationships, and embodiment. It is both a grasp and a gift in that it is an attempt to take hold of ideas and sensations, to make meaning, while at the same time offering glimpses into human perceptions of, and relationships with the natural world. In its form and content this paper presents disjunctures between theory and practice; self and other; linguistic practices and the idea/event of a journey; sensing/perceptions of the natural world and language. Here nature moves beyond popular definitions and assumptions to include ideas of a wilderness as actor, process, a state of mind, a realm of power, mystery, spirit, a relational Other. Some of the central questions inspired by and carried along this written journey are: Can perception/writing be anything besides a restructuring of the world? Is there wilderness within language, within perception? How does one perceive/represent/live supposed binaries like self and other, freedom and constraint, or belonging and abjection, bound up within self and within relationships? How does human embodiment as part of nature affect these relationships? How do we ask in respectful ways? How do we ask without probing?