What’s with Ozymandias?

Roman-era historian Diodorus Siculus, who described a statue of Ozymandias, more commonly known as Rameses II (possibly the pharaoh referred to in the Book of Exodus). Diodorus reports the inscription on the statue, which he claims was the largest in Egypt, as follows: “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” (The statue and its inscription do not survive, and were not seen by Shelley; his inspiration for  [the sonnet]  “Ozymandias” was verbal rather than visual.)  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/guide/238972   View Shelley’s sonnet here.

This paper is a commentary on the book; Keeping the Wild:  Against the Domestication of Earth

The book is Edited by George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler. Published by the Foundation for Deep Ecology in collaboration with Island Press, 2014, Washington D.C.



Ptolemaic Environmentalism by Eileen Crist one of the editors. 


Following is a short bio:

“Eileen received her Bachelor’s from Haverford College in sociology in 1982 and her doctoral degree from Boston University in 1994, also in sociology, with a specialization in life sciences and society. She has been teaching at Virginia Tech in the Department of Science and Technology in Society since 1997, where she is the advisor for the undergraduate program “Humanities, Science, and Environment.” She also teaches part time in the Department of Animal Studies at The Humane Society University. She is author of Images of Animals: Anthropomorphism and Animal Mind. She is also coeditor of Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis and Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation. Eileen is author of numerous papers and contributor to the late journal Wild Earth. She lives in Blacksburg, Virginia with her husband Rob Patzig where they also teach yoga together.”



Oecumene is an ancient Greek word meaning the inhabited world.  A deeper investigation revels, according to Crist, that it actually signified that other-than-humans did not inhabit, only people. She points out that this is one of the first “human imperialistic concepts.”   Crist also identifies oecumene as a “significant sign of the lodging of anthropocentrism.  As I understand it, anthropocentrism is so deeply entrenched into our language and worldview that it has become all persuasive, unchallenged and almost completely under the guise of ‘naturalness.’  Reading further we find more characteristics and biases of this ‘ism’.

It seems to me that HCC advocates a completely dominant human presence.  We shall have a “gardened planet”.  This is just a “euphemism for colonized earth.”  Further:

“And humanity is not penning another interesting chapter of natural history, but heralding the end of a sublime one – as long as we stay the course toward a coming world of 9, 10, or more billion people, running a global capitalist economy, and governing by the conceit that this planet is human real estate.”

The HCC advocates like to throw out the delusory comment which goes something like ‘Well, humans are also a part of nature so what we do is natural, isn’t it?”  Well, not exactly.  The pursuit of policies leading to all the results of an increase of CO2 is anything but natural.  Ecocide is a better name for it.

There are so few of us who would deny our neighbours and the rest of humanity social justice.  Not many of us will risk losing our jobs or being arrested for terrorism but by and large most of us would like to see it stepped up a bit.  After all, if an authority can grab your neighbours and disappear them, then we might be next.  However, the foundation of wealth creation has been brought about by cutting down, grinding up, digging up, chopping up and killing for food a huge proportion of the living world.  Again, HCC advocates would have us take it all and create a planet for humans, by humans and especially of humans.  The remaining life on the planet will be managed in “gardens” and “animal reserves” like governments treat vanquished people.  We should learn to act as Gods and get good at it.  Some think it is our destiny.

Well, again, I’m sorry but we just don’t have the wisdom or knowledge.


I like Eileen Crist’s final paragraph.  Here is a sample:  “There exists another path into the future, one which is more elegant, more beautiful, more ethical, and more becoming of the human spirit: on this path, wild nature –terrestrial and marine – is reinstated as the unbroken, rich-in-life tapestry within which human communities  thrive in integration with their inhabited bioregions.”


Beautifully written.  But I must make a final comment; not with this many people.  We are too many and thus out of balance with any and all bioregions.  We can and must cut back.