Discussions of “place” from an
ecocritical perspective are inevitable involved with the dialectical
relationship between “the local” and “the global”. A new emphasis on the value
of “the local” or local consciousness has important social, cultural, political
and, above all, ecological significance in the global context of the present
with no doubt. Interesting issues concerned here include: How is one’s loyalty
to the land related to his or her loyalty to its people, history, and culture?
How is conservation of the land (regardless of the negative implication
attached to the word “conservation” nowadays) connected with protection of its
tradition? How is local consciousness cultivated and reflected in aspects of
our daily life such as food, housing and transportation? What is the advantage
of local, nonprofessional knowledge as compared with professional knowledge or
the expertise of an outsider? And, having acknowledged the benefits of local
consciousness, what are its possible shortcomings or potential problems?
With regard to aspects of American
culture concerning place-related ideas, Americans’ love of wilderness offers
several issues worthy of serious consideration: How is “wilderness” related to
as well as distinguished from “wildness”? Is love of wilderness equal to love
of nature? What are the complexities in one’s love of nature or that of
wilderness? How do the complexities change over time, as, for example, in the
case of people’s craze for the wilderness under the influence of Thoreau?