maandag 13 december 2010

Sarah Palin on and with Bears

The trooper in the red coat is Sarah Palin, surely, Americans being Americans, the first female president of the United States of America.

One of the reasons I like to read Gary Snyder's non-fiction and many US nature writers (John Mcphee's first chapter of 'Coming into the Territory' especially) is the way it deals with the presence of bears as an ethical challenge for humans to consider themselves as part of nature instead of outside it. Being Dutch, a country where the presence of a man-eating predator in the wild is probably forbidden by law, such discussions seem to be played out in a realm more distant and imaginary than those offered in most science fiction. Sarah Palin is getting her ethical metaphors from the same source of the North American bioregion of bears and in this sense Mama Grizzly is a prefect representative of the American non-urban counter culture that also sustains someone like Snyder. Theirs is a mindset where the bear is real, experienced, part of the landscape and there to teach us. But the bear has different things to teach to different people, or, listen to Nancy Franklin observing Palin in her own reality show: 

The first excursion is to the Big River Lake area for fishing and bear-watching, with Todd, their nine-year-old daughter, Piper, and a niece. “I’m really hoping that Piper . . . will have that treat of seeing a mama grizzly,” Palin says. Nature, it seems, exists to provide her with a chance to use one of her signature terms. Only brown bears show up, but it turns out that they have something to teach us, too. Palin says, “I love watching these mama bears. They’ve got a nature, yeah, that humankind can learn from. She’s trying to show her cubs nobody’s going to do it for ya, you get out there and do it yourself, guys.” That sounds great, except that in this case the mother bear is doing all the fishing while her cubs splash around on a nearby rock, ignoring her. When a bear growls, Palin says, “You hear that? That is a growl.” And then, “Wow.” And then “Wow” again. And then “Wow” again.

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