Jennifer Price: Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America Jennifer Price introduces herself as “Thoreau of the mall” throughout first hand adventures and observations she explores various topics of environmental history. These environmental topics involve the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the bird hat craze of the late nineteenth century, the trend of the pink flamingo, nature stores, and nature documentaries on television and what each reveals about our feelings towards Mother Nature. Price argues consumer goods and materialism have created a dis connect between the culture of consumerism and the natural world around us. Nature is viewed in terms of leisure the place we run to when we need to get away and take a break from this busy fast paced lifestyle that we have become consumed by. When we decide to seek out this leisure we become tourist we walk into the nearest Nature Company, and begin purchasing items that will bring us closer to nature. A tent to camp in, a bag for hiking, but if there is not time for that in your life, alternatives to find peace with nature are all around us. The mall is geographically convenient and provides consumer goods that will not only bring you closer to nature, but allow you to define your own ideas on what nature is. The greening of television that fueled the 1990’s can help me find peace with nature within the confines of my suburban home, where I can pick up a book or magazine and read about the natural world without ever having to leave my comfort zone. The culture of consumerism can be found in a quote from Price’s Flight Maps: “Even postwar nature lovers – who hike and camp, and make vacation pilgrimages to wild places – encounter wild nature more often in everyday urban and suburban haunts of living rooms, shopping malls, magazines and TVs. Most of our daily encounters with nature transpire quite separately from real pieces of nature rooted in specific places.”(pg. 187) The commercial context found behind something as simple as a shopping mall has shaped our culture and definition of nature overtime. Our relationship with nature began to change by 1900, when conservationist considered the loss of the pigeon flocks as one of the most devastating encounters with nature. We can see in the post-World War II environmentalist bible, Aldo states, “No living man, will see again the onrushing phalanx of victorious birds, sweeping a path for spring across the March Skies.” (Aldo 109) By 1907, the sportsman William Mershon bitterly blamed the demise of wild pigeons on “the greed of man and the pursuit for the almighty dollar.” (Price 20) The hunt of pigeons shows they ways in which nature changed through economics and the culture of consumerism began to explode. In everyday life we question and wonder, “What has the Nature Company been selling us? “We cannot help, but encounter nature through economics and the culture of consumerism in our everyday life. The Nature Company sells us over 12,000 products according to price that range from wind chimes, herbal teas, and CD’s containing the sounds of nature. Price argues we are drawn to upscale malls they are a place apart just like nature, but it is a place that is disguised by economics and consumerism. Looking for an escape and leisure the mall becomes a quick fix to get away from chaotic everyday life and allows us to define nature in whatever way we would like. Drawn to the mall that represents nature in the troubling “placelessness” of both modern and postmodern life. Under the roof of a hugging shopping mall we can disconnect while having the comfort of nature crammed into one big building. The capitalist economy of the 1980’s and 1990’s has continued to be driven by consumers and their economic buying power. My own personal encounters today lead me to believe the capitalist economy continues to drive me toward consumerism on a daily bases. Things have...
Bibliography: Aldo, Leopold. A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There. New York: Oxford University Press, 1949.
Price, Jennifer. Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America. New York, New York: Basic Books, 1999.
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