Document recovered by John Semley
By: Jay Evans
For: Prof. Anthony Ricciardi
ENVR 400 final paper Proposal
April 25, 2008
Green-living Friends of The Woods:
On Simple Living and Bigfoot as Ecomessiah
For my final paper for ENVR 400: Seminar in Environmental Thought, I would like to address a topic which, while maybe outside of the scope of “proper” “academic research”, will nonetheless prove relevant to the course materials as I intend to take it very seriously. There is absolutely no question that humankind’s relationship with nature can best be described as “ambivalent”. Most environmentalists agree on this fact even if their opinions remain otherwise divided. A creature whose relationship with nature is harmonious, however, is Bigfoot (Lakota: Chiye-tanka). While some deem the existence of Bigfoot (or North American Sasquatch) to be unproven or a hoax staged by pranksters, I feel that Bigfoot as myth is necessary to developing a healthier relationship with nature. Critic Roland Barthes has gone on record saying: “Myth is a value, truth is no guarantee for it; nothing prevents it from being a perpetual alibi”. My final 15-page paper will begin from this argument.
For at least centuries, the Bigfoot (or “Grass Man” in Ohio, U.S.A.) has lived in concord with his natural environment, choosing not to contribute to deforestation or global warming as a result of hydro-carbon emissions. Rather, Bigfoot lives a simple live. He takes from nature only what he needs, generally refusing to adopt the rape-and-pillage lifestyle of his bipedal hominid cousins (man). This outright refusal to bend to the demands of the modern world is reflected in Bigfoot photography, where he often appears blurry or out-of-focus. I will argue that Bigfoot (or the “Skunk Ape”) is so far removed from the siren song of the technocracy that he literally cannot be photographed in high-resolution (similar to how it has been proven impossible to take a snapshot of a Dracula or Catholic Saint). This will be my second argument and I will draw equally from evolutionary anthropology and Appalachian folklore in proving this point.
Lastly, and most importantly, I will argue for Bigfoot (Australia: Yowie) as a sort-of “ecomessiah”. Tying into my first argument (ie. Bigfoot as necessary myth), I will analyse the findings of primate physiology specialist David J. Daegling laid out in his landmark text, Bigfoot Exposed. He writes that “[w]e may need the animal [ie. Bigfoot], but that does not mean the animal has to be there”. I will argue that we need Bigfoot because of his messianic quality: meaning, how he represents a lesson in how to live with nature. Bigfoot offers a promise for redemption (both of ecological systems and, perhaps, the soul) in world gone mad with greenhouse gases, suburban sprawl and regressive Republican politics. Like Jesus of Nazareth (who died on a cross to absolve mankind from its many sins), Bigfoot has been “crucified”, in metaphorical terms: written off as a myth and hoax when within his furry embrace lies the chance for true salvation. I expect this paper to contribute substantially to the fields of environmental social sciences, ecological theory, Bigfoot research (and cryptozoology more generally), as well as structuralist philosophy.