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Thursday, April 8: Walt Whitman Birthplace/Wilderness event with Max Wheat

Book discussion at Walt Whitman Birthplace
“Reading Between the Lines Into the American Wilderness,”

with Maxwell Wheat, Jr. as facilitator
Thursday,  April 8, 2010 at 7pm
at the
Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic  Site and Interpretive Center
246 Old Walt Whitman Rd., Dix Hills
(631 427-5240)
Free Event
(there may be a requested donation to enter Birthplace)

Are Salt Marshes Wilderness?

Whitman Birthplace Book Discussion questions “Wilderness”.
Can Edward Abbey’s wilderness desire be experienced in a Long Island
estuary, in a salt marsh? An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal aquatic
habitat where the ocean’s salt water is diluted with fresh water from the
land, as in the South Shore estuary. A vast part of an estuary are the salt
marsh marshes, in autumn golden prairies of the bay waters.

Standing in the desert at Arches National Monument gazing at “the
spectacle of rock and cloud and sky and space” Abbey writes, “I am here not only
to evade for a while the clamor and filth and confusion of the cultural
apparatus but also to confront, immediately and directly if possible, the bare
bones of existence, the elemental and fundamental, the bedrock which
sustains us. I want to be able to look into a juniper tree, a piece of quartz, a
vulture, a spider, and see it as it is in itself, devoid of all humanely
ascribed qualities, anti-Kantian, even in the categories of scientific
description.” (1)

Does the word “wilderness” have any more relevance? This is the big
question. It will be explored in the second session of four monthly Thursday
book discussions, “Reading Between the Lines Into the American Wilderness,”
7 P.M., Thurs., April 8, at the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic
Site and Interpretive Center, 246 Old Walt Whitman Rd., Dix Hills, (631
427-5240). There is no fee.

To register for any or all these discussions developed by the New York
Council for the Humanities, e-mail director at waltwhitman dot org. For information
phone the Birthplace at 631-427-5240 and leave your name and phone number.
The office is open Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30 AM – 5 PM.
Abbey’s wilderness ideas in “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” will be a basis for
considerations. This is Abbey’s comic novel about a band of ecological
saboteurs who take on urban expansion in the American west. However, for those
who can’t bring the book, excerpts will be available for discussions.
In each session a A long Island habitat is a focus for what wilderness
means, if it does mean, on Long Island. Beside the estuary this Thursday, the
others Pine Barrens” with the book “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering
America on the Appalachian Trail” by Bill Bryson, May 13 and the ocean beaches
with “Dead Cities” by Mike Davis, June 8.

Facilitated by
Maxwell C. Wheat, Jr.
2007-09 Poet Laureate
of Nassau County, New York

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