Hiding in the trees: the emergence of an arboreal nationalism in the work of Robert Graves and Martin Heidegger

Depper, Corin (2007) Hiding in the trees: the emergence of an arboreal nationalism in the work of Robert Graves and Martin Heidegger. In: Modern environments: contemporary readings in green studies : Inaugural graduate conference of ASLE-UK; 07 - 08 Sep 2007, Glasgow, U.K.. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Hiding in the Trees: The Emergence of an Arboreal Nationalism in the work of Robert Graves and Martin Heidegger Robert Graves and Martin Heidegger are not writers one would immediately connect, yet in the aftermath of WWII both produced works that have profoundly shaped the development of what has come to be known as ecopoetics. This paper will explore Graves’s The White Goddess, first published in 1948, and Heidegger’s essay ‘The Question Concerning Technology’, published in 1953 but based on lectures delivered just after the war, and suggest that they are united by a shared desire to return to what I shall term an ‘Arboreal Nationalism’, a sense of place that is shaped by the presence and cultural significance of trees. At the heart of The White Goddess lies Graves’s attempt to uncover a lost ‘tree alphabet’ that encodes secrets of Celtic mythology, and links the book to such earlier canonical texts of mythopoeia as The Golden Bough, but also attempts to find in this mythology an essentially pre-Socratic mode of thought, providing the basis for new models of poetic thinking and dwelling. Similarly, in ‘The Question Concerning Technology’, Heidegger’s exploration of how modern technology transforms the world into mere ‘resource’ is countered by his desire to return to a pre-technological mode of thinking where the essence of objects is unconcealed not by their transformation but by a recognition of their Being. As with Graves, Heidegger also sees the need for a philosophical turn against Platonic metaphysics for which the tree becomes a potent symbol of resistance. For both writers, however, this ‘turn’ towards trees can also be read as part of a complex renegotiation with questions of nationalism in the aftermath of the war.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Event Title: Modern environments: contemporary readings in green studies : Inaugural graduate conference of ASLE-UK
Research Area: Philosophy
English language and literature
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Performance and Screen Studies
Depositing User: Corin Depper
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2010 10:38
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2010 10:38
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/11945

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