There are two wilds the human self emotes in the wilderness, positive and negative, but cliffs and rocks stare back. A mule deer for an instant seems to have the ears of a prickly pear. But if we really want to confront the Unknown in this wilderness solitaire, animal botany, it is in ourselves, in the feet of our old age and speech. Age is the unknown, not nature where all the hybrid wilderness of ourselves crowd imaginatively beneath a bear, make a cedar tail and bones of subway tubes. Some bear! Wilderness man is "culturally devised" but says it is nature not himself he is seeing. Nature however is brute fact, with no intrinsic "savageness...or bleakness" (Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind).
Rock and Bug
This inner world makes us more wild than the mountain. Unless you can prove that the rock is wild too, that it has a raging inner torrent, humans make landscapes speak in the "human cultural devise,” but the rock does not reflect Wordsworth's Lucy rolling “with rocks, and stones, and trees.” Lucy reflects the rock. What is nature a mirror of in ourselves? What does she see? Portions of herself.
We know everything through either scientists or poets, outside and in, but scientists are very careful to say they are not cultural constructs, pretending to be perfectly nonexistent observers. Anthropos (Greek for "man") science however is so intrinsic to its own vision that a bug contradicts it. It is the shape of the eye for one thing, the sheep's rectangular pupil. Grasshoppers also teach this, but landscape reflects neither science nor art. It is not a Zen garden. The riddle is how science confers upon itself the Audacity to rule perception. It says to the mountain, move! But no matter how much a mountain is made to dissemble, the mountain's existence is cultural. It sounds backwards to say wilderness is lost in the man. We'd rather say the man is lost in the wilderness. He is entangled in the universe. That's the matter, he has a body.
Wilderness Supreme Court
Imaginative Not Collaborative
Consider Pieter Bruegel in Big Fish Eat Little Fish (1556) as a physical form collaborating the mind. Bruegel is himself eating himself. It is all going on in human consumption. People have written allegories about it. The faceless interchangeable cogs of pen, ink, folly of the human, are not fish. "Out of the mouth of a large beached fish tumble many smaller fish...the land and water are overrun by fish: a two-legged fish walks off with another fish in its mouth, a fish hand from a tree, and a fish-bird flies... (Nadine M. Orenstein. Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints. Yale University Press, 2001, 140). So the mountain of the mind spews out little mountains and particles of dust. We don't say mind fish are self identified fractals. Mind fish imaginate, not collaborate, not real, but mean to show a maxim, like a faux Orc studied by a faux anthropologist in a faux college, a faux professor eating his students. Sorry about that. This reductio is as absurd as the perception of the mountain by the engineer, the mountaineer. Bruegel and imitators, physical forms outside collaboration are mental mountains imagining.
To show further imagining, Yeats said once that out of nature he would never take his bodily form from any natural thing, which goes the whole way toward reproving collaborators as if they were cooperating with the Nazis! Some say Yeats "reformed," and denied "power to the symbols" round about the turn of the century, perceiving that irresponsible play with them brought danger. "The images that really matter to men of genius and culture are the images which are not chosen but given...." (Austin Warren. Rage for Order. Chicago, 1948, 73). This "given" is the great mountain. The lesson then is do not play with the mountain. Mountain however is a symbol. Scott Momaday calls bear a lens through which we see mountain and through mountain see wilderness. You can only see it through the hair and hide of a bear.
Not chosen, given, young C. S. Lewis in 1921 came to visit Yeats, hiked up his stairwell, "a long stairway lined with rather wicked pictures by Blake--all devils and monsters," and saw his own cultural devise, age and feeling, as if he were looking at a mountain.What would that circumstance be, a human mountain looking at another human mountain? "It would be ridiculous to record it all; I could give you the insanity of the man without his eloquence and presence, which are very great. I could never have believed that he was so like his own poetry" (Letters. Edited by W. H. Lewis. NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1966. 56, 57). Neither Austin Warren nor Lewis knew the depths of this wild, unless, or if it was their own. Empiricist codes, esoteric Buddhists, religious puritans project theories of reality to codify a cultural norm. Yeats' symbols or anyone's are dangerous when they tempt the mountaineer to extrinsic, external practice, meaning give the law to others. Religion does this but science does it more. Science is religion.
Bruegel finds the symbols that are given to him (with some Bosch). In the universe of his later work Yeats makes "a general defense of a more variously comprehensive universe than a positivist science will admit" (Warren 82), a nice way of saying fortune telling. Both nonsenses are another denial, a way of saying that there is conflict between the mountain of the mind-formed culture and the "given." This exploration of the given is the given. Close the eyes; if symbols come let them come to the pure in heart. Do not weep for the acculturate.