brian Nichols Says:
January 28, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Brian Nichols
English 418/Ray
First Blog Post
This week’s reading about the origins of Apocalyptic Rhetoric, made it clear that contemporary discussion about environmental owes much of its development from history. The Stephen O’Leary reading claimed that its purpose was “to provide a theoretical framework of understanding millennium and apocalyptic discourse” (O’Leary 1-2). In doing so he looks to the Greek definition of the word apocalypse and defines it as, “a discourse that reveals or makes manifest a vision of ultimate destiny, rendering immediate to human audiences the ultimate end of the cosmos in the last judgment” (O’Leary 5). He continues to argue that historically apocalyptic theory then, “has function[ed] as symbolic resource to define and address the problem of evil” (O’Leary 6). He elaborates on this line of reasoning by claiming that this rhetoric has become a form of storytelling that has traditional served to build communities, “in which human individuals and collectives constitute their identities through shared mythic narratives that confront the problem of evil in time and history (O’Leary 6).
Greg Garrard seems to agree with O’Leary as he quotes Lawrence Buell who claims that, “Apocalypse is the single most powerful master metaphor that the contemporary environmental imagination has at its disposal” (Garrard 93). Garrard continues to argue that, “several of the most influential books in the environmentalist cannon make extensive use of the trope, from Carson’s Silent Spring [to] Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance” (Garrard 93). He even explains that,” Apocalyptic rhetoric is deployed in the activist literature of Earth First” (Garrard 93).
Garrard further explains that Earth First! “combined revolutionary inhumanism, apocalyptic beliefs and direct action to protect wilderness areas” ( Garrard 103). He continues to explain that the organization eventually became fractured because some members considered humans as less important than other forms of life while others, “ saw people as differentiated in their responsibility for environmental problems according to gender, class, and ethnicity, and envisaged radical political change through negotiation as well as direct action” (Garrard 104). Garrard’s writing then becomes a good introduction to Martha F. Lee’s book Earth First!
Lee explained that Earth First! was created out of a discontent for the environmental politics of the time. The founders of Earth First! believed that older radical environmental organizations such as Green Peace had become had become too entrenched into government machinery. Earth First! believed that grass roots activism and direct action then was the only real solution to make changes in environmental policies. Earth First, however, did meet political opposition as right winged factions of government pursued campaigns to discredit them. Frederick Buell’ s book, From Apocalypse to Way of Life then goes into greater details on this subject following how radical environmental organizations fit into the conflict between preservationists and conservationists values from the 1980s into present.


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