Thinking like a mountain
October 31, 2019 12:19 PM   Subscribe

"We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes," writes Aldo Leopold in "Thinking Like a Mountain" (pdf link), a short essay published posthumously in A Sand County Almanac.

"Thinking Like a Mountain" (wiki) describes how Leopold, after killing a wolf in New Mexico, came to see the animal as an important part of the natural world and not a nuisance to be eliminated. The essay has been interpreted to mean that Leopold had an epiphany on that day. However, his change in thinking appears to have been a long and gradual process (Paris Review).
posted by compartment (3 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Where does Studebaker Hoch come into it?
posted by SansPoint at 12:27 PM on October 31, 2019

He still kind of thought the ocean was trash, terrestrial bias n nat.

On second thought, maybe she is (22:20)
posted by eustatic at 2:50 PM on October 31, 2019

Leopold is a treasure, and I've always found this late essay of his to be a conceptual summary of the dynamics he observed over his years. I have recommended this essay countless times as an introduction to systems thinking. More artfully told than, and if your copy includes the illustrations, as cunningly illustrated as the offset population cycles of a predator-prey model. Leopold shows that this relationship is not just between two species, but he stretches it it across animals, landscapes, humans, timescales, all the way around the base of the mountain. Read it! Send it to someone else! It's a 3 minute read, one can find as much wonder of our cosmic placement in the fading green eyes of the wolf as in Sagan's Pale Blue Dot.
posted by abcanthur at 7:20 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

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