The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild, and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World. Every tree sends its fibers forth in search of the Wild. The cities import it at any price. Men plow and sail for it. From the forest and wilderness come the tonics and barks which brace mankind. . . .  


FROM  
Henry David Thoreau


"In Wildness Is the
Preservation of the World"

 

SELECTIONS & PHOTOGRAPHS BY  ELIOT PORTER

  FOREWORD BY Joseph Wood Krutch

     INTRODUCTION BY David R. Brower


SIERRA CLUB BOOKS  SAN FRANCISCO

 

from the foreword . . .

'Men work together', I told him from the heart
'Whether they work together or apart.'

--ROBERT FROST

 

Even to leaf through what is created here is rewarding; but something quite wonderful happens to those who let themselves drift through it. This is symbiotic art: Eliot Porter corroborates Thoreau and Thoreau verifies Porter, one never diminishing the other, for reasons Joseph Wood Krutch singles out as he tells how closely these men traveled together a century apart. Just as there is always something new to discover in Thoreau, there is much more than meets the eye in the photographs; a few impressions about the artist -- the man who, ten years out of Harvard Medical School, gave up medicine and science for photography in 1939 -- may speed the discovery. . . .

Others, who are of unquestioned competence in these matters, must pass final judgment on Eliot Porter's greatness as a photographer. Some already have. I myself know only that I never saw color mean more than he makes it mean, and that I shall not easily overlook it again. The two Porter albums -- the prints and the selections from Thoreau that were the manuscript for this book -- made me vow openly to see it published even if I had to take up a life of crime to get the funds for it. Happily, Belvedere Scientific Fund intervened and provided generous assistance. It took responsible imagination to see as far beyond the mere beauty of the manuscript as needed seeing. Imaginative philanthropy followed.

To me it seems that much of what Henry David Thoreau wrote, more than a century ago, was less timely in his day than it is in ours: we can now prove that the natural and civilized must live together or perish separately. We hope that the attitude of Thoreau and Porter toward unspoiled countryside will be pervasive. For there is no science and no art of greater importance than that which teaches seeing, which builds sensitivity and respect for the natural world, a world that "has visibly been recreated in the night." A natural world thus cherished will always bring"mornings when men are new-born, men who have the seeds of life in them."

DAVID BROWER

San Francisco, California
August 11, 1962

THE WILDNESS WITHIN US