The Erotic landscape

In "The Erotic Landscape," Terry Tempest Williams describes our relationship with the natural world as a dichotomy. Contemporary Americans, it seems, ought to be warned about stories of conquest which teach us to tame our true erotic nature. According to Williams, the world we often surrender to "defies our participation and seduces us into believing that our only place in nature is as spectator, onlooker." She suggests that this "onlooker" relationship with the land is perhaps no different than the relationship men or women luxuriate in when they view pornography.

Eroticism is being in relationship and calls an inner life into play. The pornographic suppresses true feeling and directly denies the power of the erotic. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling. We have, perhaps in western mythology, remained reticent about the power of the erotic: "The erotic world is silenced, reduced to a collection of objects we can curate and control, be it a vase, a woman, or wilderness."

For Williams the erotic relates to the highest and finest things of life. The erotic confirms creation in everything around us, above us, below us--earth, sky, bones, blood, flesh--and helps us to experience the world whole, even holy. Without eroticism--without feeling--we cannot begin to understand our abuse of each other and our abuse of the land: Without eroticism "our lives become a piece of the puzzle of pornography as we go through the motions of daily intercourse without any engagement of the soul."

The Erotic Landscape by Terry Tempest Williams