Knowledge is Wild

Knowledge is Wild

Gary Snyder’s collection of essays in his book The Practice of the Wild is an opening into his own personal mind. In his first essay in the collection, “The Etiquette of Freedom”, he talks about freedom, wildness, culture, and nature/wilderness. The understanding of the term wild is a hard one to wrap my head around. Therefore, in this first essay he allows for a broad definition of what it is to be wild and to have wildness. The first thought that comes to my mind when I think of wild is truly the nickelodeon tv show, the Wild Thornberry’s. Maybe it is just the fact the the word wild is in the title or maybe it is the meaning behind the show. We are all wild in our own ways and this children’s tv show proves it. The oldest sister is so interested in being a teenager and being into the technology, which in the time that the show was made there wasn’t anything like what we have today. Technology is wild. The youngest sister can speak to animals and her best friend, Darwin, is a monkey. Of course the irony behind Darwin and Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection is the perfect fit when it comes to letting the wild take hold of a person and how the wildness in life can choose ones fate. The little brother, Donnie, is literally wild, in a more modern form. He doesn’t speak or wear clothing besides shorts, he is the definition of wild when it comes to the Webster Dictionary; undomesticated and living in the natural environment. Thinking of the term wild in a younger version helped me get through his first chapter because knowing what wildness is explains a lot of what Snyder is saying.

Wild Thornberry’s -Buzzfeed

Snyder compares being wild to a fox. He states, “The word Wild is like a gray fox trotting off through the forest, ducking behind bushes, going in and out of sight” (9) this paints a picture in every readers mind. This fox is free, he isn’t running he is trotting. The fox is wild while he is in the wilderness. To be wild and to have wildness is to have the freedom of yourself. “but wildness is not limited to the 2 percent formal wilderness areas. Shifting scales, it is everywhere; ineradicable populations of fungi, moss, mold, yeasts, and such that surround and inhabit us” (15) is how Snyder describes that wildness is in the wilderness but it isn’t held to the standards of what we as humans consider to be wilderness.

Originally the word wild was used when the Europeans met the Indians, they saw them as untamed and savage. Their ways of living was different that the Europeans therefore, they considered them to be anything but normal so they chose for them to be ‘wild’. I think that when someone is wild it means that they can survive off of the land, they have the capability to learn things through nature and the wilderness to stay alive, just like how animals do. We are animals in our own way, we came from primates and through human evolution have come to where we are now. This whole idea of human evolution is wild. The term can be used in almost any form and especially as an adjective. But the major question that I have found myself asking throughout the entirety of The Practice of the Wild is: Isn’t wilderness, nature, animals, humans, bugs, insects, aren’t they all wild and not in the sense that they are living but that we still only know so little about everything in our world and that is what makes things wild. Our pure lack of understanding/knowledge with everything we encounter is what defines this word wild.

Language is wild as well and Snyder really enjoys the fact that we as humans have language. In this chapter he uses almost an entire two pages to discuss what the dictionary says different words/sayings mean. The point behind him doing this is for the reader to ask themselves, why is there a defined answer to these words/sayings’ and truly no one will ever have the same personal definition of what animals are, what plants are, and what food crops are but then he takes these words and puts them with the word ‘of’ in front and it makes the entire definition change. Words themselves are wild and the mouths that are speaking them are wild because, “our bodies are wild” (17).

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