Gary Snyder (born May 8, 1930) is an American man of letters. Perhaps best known as a poet (often associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance), he is also an essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist with anarchoprimitivist leanings. He has been described as the "poet laureate of Deep Ecology". Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the American Book Award. His work, in his various roles, reflects an immersion in both Buddhist spirituality and nature. Snyder has translated literature into English from ancient Chinese and modern Japanese. Snyder was an academic at the University of California, Davis and a member of the California Arts Council.
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For several centuries Western civilization has had a drive for material accumulation, continual extensions of economic power, termed "progress.". . . The longing for growth is not wrong. The nub of the problem is how to flip over, as in jujitsu, the magnificent growth energy of modern civilization into a nonacquisitive search for deeper knowledge of self and nature.
A certain businessman, renowned for his ruthlessness, once made a vow in Mark Twain's presence. "Before I die," he declared, "I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top." "I have a better idea," Twain replied. "You could stay home in Boston and keep them.
To explain why we become attached to our birthplaces, we pretend that we are trees and speak of "roots." Look under your feet. You will not find gnarled growths sprouting through the soles. Roots, I sometimes think, are a conservative myth, designed to keep us in our places.