For Buell, environment and place are as much social, cultural and ideological He agrees with his city-friend that the drying of swamps.

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ENVIRONMENT IN LITERATURE:LAWRENCE BUELL’s ECOCRITOCAL PERSPECTIVETiiu SpeekSince Martin Heidegger wrote that language reveals as well as conceals, and Mi- chel Foucault showed how power-structur es create and sustain such privileged discourses as ‘madness’ and ‘man’ and marginalize alternative kinds of know- ledge and worldviews, interconnections between institutions and writing have become commonplaces of critical thinking . What poststructural critics have done for human ‘others’ Œ women, ethnic pe ople, all kinds of principled non-con- formists and cranky misfits Œ, ecocritics do for the natural world as another silenced ‘other’ in technological society. Christopher Manes writes: “Nature is silent in our culture (and in literate so cieties in general) in the sense that the status of a speaking subject is jealously guarded as an ex clusively human prerogative. –The language we speak today, the idiom of Renaissance and Enlig htenment humanism, veils the processes of nature with its own cultural obsessions, directionalities, and motifs that have no analogies in the natural world. As Max Oelschlaeger puts it, “we are pe ople who presumably must think of the world in terms of the learned cate gorical scheme of Modernism.” It is as if we have compressed the entire buzzing, howling, gurgling biosphere into the narrow vocabulary of epistemology.” (Manes 1996: 15.) Ecocriticism is an ecological outgrowth of po st-structural criticism that studies human representations of nature. Just as feminist criticism ex amines traditional genres from gender-conscious perspectives and discovers new women authors to add to literary canon, ecocritics reread canonical texts from earth-centered app- roaches and promote teaching and research of environmental non-fiction. Eco- critics are interested in how discursive conventions enable and constrain our con- tact with environment and place, how mu ch does place inform representations, and how do the means of representations inform our sense of place. They exa- mine significant tropes and myths that shape our environmental imagination and action. Since ancient times European and other cultures have used such universal

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Environment in Literature161but also place-specific metaphors as Ga rden, Wilderness, Virgin Land, Desert, and Swamp to understand and describe their relationship with land and nature. Ecofeminist critics have argu ed that in patriarchal so ciety women have been con- sidered closer to nature than men and th at this association has validated subjuga- tion of both. Speaking for other forms of life, ecocritics also speak for human minorities whose exploitation is often closely interlinked with exploitation of nature Œ the fact that is often concealed in hegemonic naturism. What ecocritics do, in short, is attempting to discover nature as absence, silence in texts, and construe environmental representation as a relevant category of literary, aes- thetic, and political analysis ; often in conjunction with a focus on gender, class and race issues in literary texts. Ecocriticism originated in the USA, la rgely from the need to study environ- mental non-fiction called nature writing which is produced mostly in Western states of the USA. The nature and landscapes of the places from which this kind of writing arises is grand and ancient. Because of th is fact, traditional trans- Mississippian definitions of wilderness and nature often do not work even within the same Anglo-American context. For example, while in the American West, snow-capped mountains, stark deserts and wide open plains are ‘wilderness,’ in England wild nature is woodlands, even the flora and fauna of ditches or your own back yard. Because of its rapid grow th, ecocriticism is now a paradoxical mixture of diversity and common purpose. Problems with applying the US- based criticism to other literatures and environments and the need for situated ecocritical theory have been the key subjects discussed at recent Culture and Environment Conferences in the USA and England. Lawrence Buell’s The Environmental Imagination. Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture (Buell 1995) is one of the preeminent stu- dies in the new field. Although Buell’s central reference is Henry David Thoreau and he focuses on problematics of American literary pastoral, his work offers thoughtful angles from which to reconsider the nature of ‘nature’ also in Esto- nian literature. Particularly enlightening are Buell’s discussions of cultural and ideological influences of literary representations of environment and place, as well as his vision of non-fictional nature prose as a new way of conceiving the re- lation between human consciousness, im agination and larger world. Below I shall first delineate Buell’s notion of representational filters and examine the particular dual nature of the European pastoral as a particular ideological filter,

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Tiiu Speek162as well as an environmentally responsive evocation of natural landscapes, then proceed to other filters and wind up with Buell’s notion of ‘dual accountability.’ Dual nature of literary environment. Ideological filter For Buell, environment and place are as much social, cultural and ideological entities as they are physical ones. Reconstructions of larger landscapes or im- mediate surroundings are always inevitably selective and fragmentary, the world sieved through a number of filters: perc eptual, ideological, and literary. I shall start with the ideological filter. Buell writes there is the tendency among Ame- rican writers to represent the country as close to nature as it is, yet “the con- ception of represented nature as an ideolo gical screen becomes unfruitful if it is used to portray the green world as nothing more than the projective fantasy or social allegory” (Buell 1995: 36). The falla cy of city-based po ststructural criti- cism to overread literature’s ideologi cal symbolism and underestimate its ex- periential and referential aspects is one of the ways of making the natural en- vironment subservient to human interests. While literature ca n reduce nature to a specific ideological or humanistic agenda, it can also represent an alternative kind of human-nature relationship fac ilitating green consciousness and place- bonding. Which side gets stressed depends on the writer but also on the reader. Thus, our reported contacts with our surroundings are always culturally media- ted, intersocially and intertextually constructed; but they are also responses to nature, and environment is one of the variables that influences culture, text, and personality. These are troublesome dich otomies from which an ecocritic should begin.Pastoral is a good example for examining this dual nature of literary repre- sentation of the physical world. Pastor al, undoubtedly one of the most universal forms of Western environmental imagination, “has become almost synonymous with the idea of (re)turn to a less urbanized, more “natural” state of existence” (Buell 1995: 31). Buell writes: “Historically, pastoral has sometimes activated green consciousness, sometimes euphemized land appropriation. It may direct us towards the realm of physical nature, or it may abstract us from it–.The modern transmutation that concerns me most is the enlistment of pastoral in the service of local, regional, and national particularism .” (Buell 1995: 31.)

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Environment in Literature163This use of pastoral as an article of cultural nationalism that centers around the idea of a nation’s peculiar, privileged closeness to nature, is as universal as it is culture-specific. Buell shows that the representation of European colonies as natural abodes, Edens, by promoters, explorers, settlers, tourists and adventurers is a peculiarity of European settler cultur es. This perception is also adopted and rewritten by the indigenous population of colonies or postcolonial states, who turn greenery and remoteness from Metropolis into cultural assets. “From this have risen myths of the frontiers, of the bush, of Africanity” (Buell 1995: 53). Other forms of pastoral as a carrier of cultural nationalism based on the idea of culture’s rootedness in nature Œ locodescriptive poetry, wilderness romance, country novel and short story, also occu r outside Anglo-American tradition; all these are often presented through the city -country and city-wilderness polarities. When a country is presented as essentially greener, wilder , more pastoral as it is, we should ask whether literature represen ts idealized abstractions, turning nature into the service of cultural self-definition, or does it registrer actual places and their environmental realities. Usually texts do both, but there are important modalities along the continuum. Pastoral would provide a helpful theoretical framework for examining different forms of Estonian literary naturism. During the period of the first national awakening and self-determination in the 19th century, Estonians considered themselves as much a nature’s, more precisely land’s nation as Americans and Scandinavians. And there is the similar tendency to see countryside as the locus of nationhood even now, when the city has become so important in our life. The obvious role of nature in Estonian literature makes it necessary to analyze varieties of pastoral representation. It is important to take into account what Buell says about reading in the context. He argues that pastoral’s dual na ture as the vehicle of ideological as well as green ideas cannot be understood and evaluated without analyzing how similar motifs are handled by different authors, and what environmental values, humanistic or alternative ones, the work expresses. Buell also stresses that pas- toral does not manifest a single ideological or aesthetic position; pastoral is a set of multiple frames (Buell 1995: 49). A Balt ic-German squire’s pa storal is not the same as a serf’s pastoral; a native’s pastoral is not the same as a tourist’s one, a farmer’s pastoral is probably different from that of a forest brother, and perhaps some stylistic differences suggest a woman author’s pastoral is not quite the same as a male writer’s one.

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Tiiu Speek164Two stories by a modern Estonian writer Juhan P eegel illustrate different ways pastoral is made to carry cultural nationalism; they show some of the inter- connections of ideology, aesthetics and environmental issues important for eco- critical analysis. In the first story titled Söötis põld (“A Fallow Field” Œ Peegel 1983: 13Œ17) the narrator is visiting hi s native fishing village and a childhood friend on the island of Muhumaa. Sharing home-made bread and dried plaice, they are talking about the state of agriculture. The writer’s friend Kustu is a worker in the local collective farm, and od dly frustrated that the fields of his forefathers lay fallow. He agrees with hi s city-friend that the drying of swamps and putting new lands under cultivation ar e good sides of large-scale agriculture because more people get fed, but he still insists that small forest fields had not only supported by also educated generations. The narrator, who is a progressive city-man, first judges Kustu’s devotion to the poor soil as the work of “the devil of private property” still lingering in his worldview, after more than ten years of collective farms. But he understands then that it is rather his friend’s shame before his forefathers that makes him worry over the uncultivated fields. The author lets the narrator close with an ambiguous stand; he does neither condemn or affirm Kustu’s heart-ache; he does no t know whether it is right or wrong to worry about fields of old farms during the times where so many new lands are put under cultivation. As the story is written under the Soviet rule (1964), this double attitude is probably an inescapa ble ideological ploy. Although the author cannot openly condemn the Soviet-style mechanized agriculture and show how the creation of collective farms turned the well-kept countryside of prosperous small farms into the patchwork of monocultures, straight ditches and marginal fields turning into shrubland, he must be quite sure that the reader sympathizes with Kustu’s heart-ache. He/she remembers the dispossession of grandparents or parents too well. Thus, while the pastoral subscribes to the official ideology of efficient collective agriculture, it simu ltaneously undermines it, suggesting old values Œ the land and farm as home, as one web of life in which people and nature breathe in one rhythm. While effective production emphasizes materialistic attitude towards the land, the old, sustainable farming is based on the ethics of care; love of the place and the continuity of age-old pattern of life are as important as producing food. This is Kustu’s unspoken message. In Peegel’s second story Mets (“Forest” Œ Peegel 1983: 14Œ23), pastoral similarly futhers feelings of national prid e and critique of foreign, this time Bal-

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Environment in Literature165tic-German rule through the main theme of forest freedom. Peegel contests the foreign squierarchy’s ownership of the land openly because critique of a more distant ruler does not present dangers he faced in the previous story. While Ger- man Jägermeister was quite common in rich Estonian manors during the second half of the 19th century, the property of the story’s squire is so small and poor that she cannot allow one. She hires a tenant farmer Priidu, the story’s prota- gonist, to fill the duties of both a hunt er and forester, in return for his rent. Priidu has to supply the manor kitchen regularly with game and also keep an eye on the manor forest. Freedom makes Priidu a different man. More and more, he neglects his farm and like an addict and love-sick man, escapes into the forest. Instead of keeping his duties and watching out for trespassers for wood and game, he takes as many wild rabbits and birds home as to the manor. Priidu does not go into the forest only for hunting; contrary to the squire’s opinion, he is sensitive to natural beauty and likes to ob serve the habits of wild creatures. But his favorite haunt is a secret clearing in the wood where he is drawn back as to a woman. When the squire’s hunting parties desecrate it with their picnics, Priidu leaves three turds of sturdy peasant sh it on the stone in the middle of the clearing, contesting the manor’s ownership of the forest. After he loses the position, the squire hires a young German man. He is a newly trained forest manager, but a poor woodsman and hu nter. When the squire rebukes him of neglecting the manor kitchen, the man resorts to a managerial excuse Š he says the number of game animals has diminish ed, as in Germany. Soon Priidu leaves the farm to his eldest son and becomes a wild man and outlaw. He hunts where he wants, evades all attempts to capture him and eventually dies in the embrace of his beloved clearing. Thus for Prii du, forest is the place where he, and symbolically, all indigenous serfs and te nant farmers regain their ancient pre- conquest freedom. Not recognizing the offi cial boundaries, Priidu imaginatively returns the land to the community Œ forest is not a privileged reserve and play- ground of the foreign ruling class but a part of village’s subsistence economy; household timber, brushwood and game are everybody’s. So, what forest can be for the foreign ruling class and indigenous Estonian population depends on their class. While forest is private property for the squire and her aesthetic appreciation of its beauties is the sign of the aristocratic foreign culture’s superiority over local peasant culture; knowing about new trends of forest conservation in Germany, the new forest manager is concerned with the

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Environment in Literature167But ideology is “after all only one of se veral filters through which literature shifts the environments it purports to represent,” says Buell (Buell 1995: 84). “These filters begin with the human sensory appa ratus itself, which responds much more sensi- tively for example at the level of sight than of smell and even at visual level is highly selective: we perceive discrete objects better than objects in relation, and large objects much better than the average life-form. For these reasons our reduct ions of environment cannot be other than skewed and partial. Even if it were not so, even if human perception could perfectly register environmental stimuli, literature could not. –Yet from another point of view the emphasis on disjunction between text and world seems overblown. To most lay readers, nothing seems more obvious than the proposition that literature of a descriptive cast, be it “fictional” or “non-fic tional,” portrays “reality,” even if imperfectly–.No doubt we have derived our critical skeptic ism or disdain from the idea of writing as construct – [and] writing as discourse.” (Buell 1995: 84.)To think of environment as nothing more than ideological blueprints or other human meanings is reductive. Criticism acts as an additional blocking agent and induces false consciousness. So while in literary works a landscape of- ten exists for formal or symbolic or id eological purposes, lit erature can and does refer to a landscape, place, and the natural world for its own sake , as an object of independent value. Although literary repr esentation is always highly selective, there are nuances in responsiveness to the world and considerable mimetic dif- ferences Œ from environment and place as a mere “setting” to human action or symbols of human feelings or thoughts, to a rendering Buell calls ‘thick des- cription,’ which is of particular im portance for environmental non-fiction. ‘Thick description’ is a ‘deep map’ of a place; it rests on the conviction that a place’s history is inseparable from its natu ral history; the author attempts to open up continuities of people with land from several angles Œgeological, anthropolo- gical, geographical, economic, biological , cultural, literary, and other. Descrip- tions, details and stories accumulate an d an ecological pattern of interdepen- dence and energy transfer emerges. Nonfictional aesthetics: Dual accountability

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Tiiu Speek168In traditional understanding, faithful mimesis is not a purpose in imaginative, fictional literature, while a ccurate mirroring of the world is compulsory in non- fiction in which scientific facticity is of great import ance. Yet e.g. John Ruskin and Marianne Moore demanded that also “imaginary gardens have real toads in them” (Buell 1995: 91). For Buell, the bo undary does not ru n between fiction and non-fiction, because fact icity is always human fact icity and toads in literary gardens are never real toads. Moreover, he is not at all convinced that “classical realism is the only or even the best way of restoring the natural world for art and imagination” (Buell 1995: 92). A highly stylized rendering of a natural object or phenomenon can successfully bridge the abyss between language and the world. Buell calls his non-fictiona l ecocritical aesthetics dual accountability : it means that “a text has a double accountab ility to both matter and to discursive mediation” (Buell 1995: 93). It is crucial for an ecocritic wh ether an author is aware of the reductive nature of his/her ‘nature.’ Ideally, the issue of representa- tion itself is a subject of reflection, and the text is thus ultimately made answerable to the world. Using Linda Hutcheon’s taxonomy, Buell distinguishes four levels of refer- ence and environmental responsiveness in literary discourse: “the intratextual; the intertextual (the world of o ther texts); the autorepresentational (the text fi- gured as a text), and the outer mimetic (the worl d outside the text). All come into play here: the concern to establish a narrative coherence, to signal participation of the story in a world of texts, – to acknowledge that the narrative may have created its own world, and to make the narrative faithful to the world.” (Buell 1995: 93.) What distinguishes environmenta l non-fiction, like Thoreau’s Walden or Lo- pez’s Arctic Dreams is that the author gives primacy to the last type of mimesis,blocking out or diminishing the previous three that are all concerned with text- uality. In his book Barry Lopez discusses how imagination mediates between landscape and desire. Human subjectivity is molded by the countours of the landscape, but the landscap e itself, its mystery, fascinates him more. In short, “Lopez remains accountable to the factic ity in terms of which he invites his artistic images to be judged” (Buell 1995: 94). Uku Masing and Jaan Kaplinski are the only Estonian auth ors who strive towards similar accountability. Masing discusses cultural influences in represen ting plants in his personal narrative Mä-lestusi taimedest [Memories of Plants ]; he often returns to Darwin’s concept of

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Environment in Literature169’natural selection’ as an example of how culture mediates what we can see in nature (Masing 1996). Kaplinski takes up some important ethical issues of semiotics in the untitled poem in the collection Mitu suve ja kevadet [ManySummers and Springs ]. Here a tiny dead insect between the leaves of a Chinese- Russian dictionary symbolizes the limited freedom allowed to nature in human meanings and literature: “For a moment / I thought, if it wasn’t actually/ some word, some sign in that dictionary / who did not want to be there any more, / who wanted to be something more than a sign–” (Kaplinski 1995: 31). Outer mimesis clearly prevails in the poetry and pr ose of both authors; and both stress the otherness, strangeness of the natural world. Giving up humanistic dreams of Master and retaining wonder means that a human being is content with a more modest role as one species among others. According to Buell, “Lopez’s notion of “outer mimesis” in environmental non-fictio n seemingly boils down to this. Literature functions as science’s less systematic bu t more versatile complement. Both seek to make understandable a puzzling world. To a greater degr ee than science, literature releases imagination’s free play, though the play is not entirely free, sinc e the imagination is regulated by encounters with the environment both personal mediated through the unofficial folk wisdom to which one has been exposed. Thus regulated, the mind is at le isure to ramble among intriguing hypotheses – butin the long run the author is committed to offeri ng a model or a scheme of the world. That we are invited to weigh according to our supposition or knowledge of its plausibility. Either intuition– or field data can be invoked here. The narrative makes no pretense of total accuracy; it is a theory ofnatural history; but nature is the court of appeal .The foregoing stand as a short statement of the nonfictional aspiration –” (Buell 1995: 94.) A fictionalist reading and rendering of the world is prone to take for granted that the persona or a hero is the sole sp eaking subject, that nature is mute and passive and has meaning only in human term s, that selected details are symbolic, that the knowledge of actual places and environmental realities is of little impor- tance. A nonfictionalist reading and representation presupposes that the per- sona’s most distinctive feature is his/her environmental knowledge Œ “not the professional scientist’s command of data and theory but the working knowledge of someone more knowledgeable than we, who seeks to communicate what he or she knows in a sharable form” (Buell 1995: 97). Buell also stresses that in en- vironmental non-fiction, “the persona’s ch ief rhetorical resources is exposition, that the metaphorical and tonal and meditative complications enrich exposi-

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Tiiu Speek170tion– that the text’s outer mimetic function is as important as its intertextual dimension, and that its selectivity is an instrument for promoting knowledge rather than suppressing it” (Buell 1995: 98). Also, a natural object can be not only metaphor of the world, but also metonymically connected with the environ- ment, like Whitman’s hermit thrush is connected with the lilacs in the poem “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed.” Masing’s trees and flowers and Kaplinski’s insect as well as a myriad of other natural objects bear the same metonymical relationship to the place. Other devices besides the working knowledge, metaphor and metonomy that reanimate and redirect the reader’s attention to his/her surroundings are a highly abstract renderings like the draw ings of birds in some guides, which enable the student to identify the originals more effectively than would a denser mimetic image, such as very realistic ph otographs in a field guide. The capacity of the stylized image to put the reader or viewer in touch with the environment is precisely what Buell stresses, as a counter to assumptions that stylization must somehow work against outer mimesis or take precedence over it. “We need to recognize stylization’s capacity for what the poet-critic Francis Ponge calls adéquation : verbalizations that are not replic as but equivalents of the world of object” (Buell 1995: 98). Thus, the aesthetics of dual accountab ility is applicable beyond non-fictional environmental prose and expository rhetorical mode, in the realm of fictive poetry as well. Accurate mimesis is not necessarily the only way of adequate depiction in literature. Good environmental authors, in order to communicate what they know, sometimes refresh a place with imagery, thus reporting partly what they did not actually see, but such inventions, fictionalizing, or magnifying is crucial for readers to begin to look, see, and notice his/her surroundings. To conclude, representations of the natural world need not be monologic, may even be founded on self-consciousness about the language one uses, the author may even make this self-division explicit to the reader, with the aim of disloca- ting him/her. In this way an environmentally conscious writer refuses to allow ‘mind’ or ‘language’ or ‘history’ or ‘cul ture’ to determine what nature can be, to suggest that the mystery out there is th e ultimate judge of all human meanings. Ecocritical readings are multiple alternat ive discursive projects of suggesting to the reader what birds and toads can see, that besides our noisy meanings there is

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