wildhood welcome

Share what you have gathered wildly.

CHCB 467
Missoula, MT 59802

Wildhood is kinship of the wild in all people, places, and things.


Welcome the wild.

Getting Back into Place, 5, VIII - XIV

Mark Douglas


VIII - Surrounding Array

Casey cites J.J. Gibson on affordances in relation to Gibson's work on ecological perception. The idea is that somebody perceives sensory cues within an 'ambient array' that betoken meaning that is interpreted about the environment qua lived world. "Wilderness presents itself to somebody as the circumabience of ambient array" (p. 208). The surrounding comes by encircling and filling out. The encircling frames and delimits place while the land fills out place. Sky encircles from above and fills out with illumination. Land fills in. Earth and skycaps thus occupy the ar sphere. The backdrop has "open-ended qualities and structures that serve to deepen what, in the initial sensory affordances, is flattened out by the body" (p. 209).

IX - Sensuous Surface

A sensuous surface stands out to us. The quality of surfaces may be in terms of motion, shape, color, or density, luminosity, or texture. In wilderness, mediation between inner self and surrounding world comes through flesh. The flesh of the world "intertwines with my flesh and each is continuous with the other" (Casey has an extensive endnote quoting Merleau-Ponty from The Visible and Invisible). The sensuous surface allows for the greatest experiential depth in wilderness. "The two porous surfaces, one belonging to the circumambient world [umwelt] and the other to my corps propre, intertwine and become at once co-experiential and co-essential. My lived body rejoins a wild place--this free standing grove of trees, that unruly patch of sea--as the flesh of one takes in the flesh of the other. As I come to know it from within, such a place, despite its wildness (or rather, just because of it) becomes 'flesh of my flesh' " (p. 210).

X - Ground

"The ground is the other side of the sensuous surface of wilderness, its closely clinging subsurface aura" (p. 211). Ground is that on the basis of which we take a stand. It is the "undergirding support" (p. 212). "Ground, then, is that aspect of earth that seeps into the sensuous surface of wild places while also extending that surface downward" (p. 213)

XI - Things

"A thing is whatever is profiled on the sensuous surface of the ground" or "something with a distinctive contour" (p. 215). "[T]hey are aspects intrinsic to the very structure of Nature" (p. 215). Things cannot be exhausted by human perception. Things are "matters of physis in its primeval configurations" (p. 216).

XII - Arc

To speak of arc, in this context, is to speak of an area of vanishing that "helps hold everything together  in a given wild place" (p. 216). "The arc encloses the horizon and all that lies within it, including material things and their sensuous surfaces" (p. 217). The arc does not enframe, it encompasses. The arc situates the near sphere and includes the far sphere.

XIII - Atmosphere

Atmosphere is "moodwise situatedness" as Befindlichkeit. As such, it is "[f]irst in pervasive power ...[and] the vaguest and yet in certain ways most formative of wilderness features." It "exists in and around everything in the landscape" (p. 219). Atmosphere envelopes the other moments, and pervades them. Atmospheric effects (moods or attunements, or as I suggest, composition) change the way places show up for somebody. Atmosphere (constitution) is thus an altogether pervasive medium.

Befindlichkeit will be the domain of my dissertation investigation. I'll be examining the different modalities of meaning in terms of the way a wild place stands forth in the everyday lived worlds of constituents. For this reason, I want to unfold Befindlichkeit as I see it in relation to constitution and composure. For the time being, I will let others make the case and later I will interpret these notions for my own work.

" 'Constitution,' in its most general sense, means allowing something to be seen as what is is by giving it a place in an ordered context" (Wrathall, 2006, p. 33). "Constituting, means letting the entity be seen in its objectivity. ...[T]his objectivity...is not a result of the activity of intellectual understanding upon the external world. It is not a result of an activity upon an already given mix of sensations or throng of affections, which are ordered to form a picture of the world" (Heidegger, 1985, p. 71). "If the very same object physically described were found in a different context, it would be a different worldly entity. It would be, in the terminology of existential phenomenology, differently constituted, even though it would be physically identical" (Wrathall, 2006, p. 34). This means that wild places have different constitutions in the lived worlds of different wilderness constituents. "The aim of phenomenological description of worldly entities is to help us recognize how things are constituted  and available for us without needing to be constituted by us in thought" (p. 34). "In all brevity, this can be stated so: We only catch sight of that which has already sighted us....We only catch sight of what has already sighted us, and indeed without our knowledge or effort. We only hear that to which we already belong insofar as we stand in its claim" (Heidegger, 2012, p. 95). 

In his lectures entitled "Basic Principles of Thinking," Heidegger unfolds the problems of subject-object relations in order to harken the audience to more primordial thinking. He works through an exposition of thinking as adequation versus thinking as "letting something lie before, namely what is already lying before, what is presencing, such that it shows itself thereby as what is lying before" (p. 101). The contrast is between "representing, calculating, willing, and pursuing" (p. 100) and "pondering, expositing, interpreting, [and] attending" (p. 101). Heidegger gets to the point that logos has been misinterpreted as logic and logistics. For Heidegger, thinking is better understood as "grounding-principles [den Grund-Satzen]" (p. 102) and in that sense, Satz is taken as relative to legein, the verb form of logosLegein "means to gather, to lay together" (p. 99). In other words, we can interpret statement [Satz] as composition. "Statement means in our older language setting together, composition--as still in music, the movement [Satz] of a sonata" (p. 103). The saying of somebody as exposition of composition consists in their composure. Composure is to saying and thinking as comportment is to behaving. Composure is to constituents as constitution is to wilderness.


Each moment of these wild place traits (surrounding array, sensuous surfaces, ground, things, arc, atmosphere) will have characteristic bodily "ingression and action" (Casey, 2009, p. 222). Arc and ground accordingly cal for "a receptive spreading out and taking-in in one case, a determined being-stationed or striding-forth in the other" (p. 222). The body experiences sensuous surfaces and the surrounding array while it also deals with things and takes in the atmosphere. The moments of wilderness do not readily acquiesce to bodily intention. They call for active negotiation and interpretation. "Wild places themselves take the lead" (225). "The a priori of Nature....arises instead from the complex conformation of all the already given constituents of wilderness itself. These constituents inhere in Nature from the start, often in supreme indifference to human interests and concerns. Only their full complexion, their intimate interleaving, decides the character and structure of wild places in their very wildness" (p. 226).