"...an original pristine nature is lost through some culpable human act..."
"The myth of Eden describes a perfect landscape, a place so benign and beautiful and good that the imperative to preserve or restore it could be questioned only by those who ally themselves with evil."Echoes the appeal to nature. The similar religious zeal with which science is protected from dissent by accusing those who question prevailing thought as either delusional or malicious. This similar approach to questioning emerges from Enlightenment thinking, ironically, since this is the source of the "question anything" admonition, yet is also the source of dogmatism, once an idea has been baptized as "fact," which can only be questioned by the allies of evil (witness the scientists who say a "new dark age" is threatened by advocates of intelligent design. The imperative becomes hysterical when the prevailing identification with an idea is threatened, the new idea threatens the utopia the person has invested in, whether religious, natural or scientific.
The most popular images in photography, since the middle of the 20th century, are pictures (surrogate realizations) of that perfect, benign and beautiful landscape depicted in the mythic Eden. These are the images of Ansel Adams, which directly contradict the humanist, compassionate, images of the social realists who vociferously rejected his work as a betrayal of their conception of art as a means for bringing about social justice. He may not have thought of it, but perhaps his critics were right, he was unwittingly bending photography to an anti-humanist agenda. One thing is sure, without the emergence of the mythic Eden into the popular consciousness in the post second world war era, his photographs would be obscure, known to only a few collectors. It was with the emergence of the cult of wilderness, centered around an "Edenic narrative" that his photographs gained wider significance. This remains the prevailing wind filling the sales of photography, perhaps it is time the wind changed.
(refer to p.37, Cronon, Uncommon Ground)