Introduction: The Ecologies of Mobility
Environmentalism has almost always privileged what geographer Tim Cresswell refers to as a “sedentarist metaphysics.” Cresswell defines this perspective as one that promotes “place, rootedness, spatial order, and belonging” (26), and one in which “mobility is seen as a threat” (42). The genre often referred to as nature writing often flaunts environmentalism’s affinity with a sedentarist metaphysics in, for example, its sanctification of Henry David Thoreau ensconced in his austere cabin beside Walden Pond; of Robinson Jeffers in his lithic Tor House and Hawk Tower overlooking the Pacific Ocean; of Edward Abbey in his ramshackle trailer in the Utah desert; of Annie Dillard in her house “clamped to the side of Tinker Creek,” a dwelling that she compares to an “anchorite's hermitage” (4). This house, Dillard states, “holds me at anchor to the rock bottom of the creek itself and it keeps me steadied in the current, as a sea anchor does” (4). “Clamped to the side,” “holds me at anchor,” “steadied in the current,” “anchorite’s hermitage”: Dillard’s phrases embody perfectly a sedentarist metaphysics.
This is an accepted manuscript published as “Introduction: The Ecologies of Mobility,” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 24:1 (Winter 2017): 66-74. doi: 10.1093/isle/isx001. Posted with permission.