Controversial poet Ronald Stuart Thomas was considered to be one of the leading writers of the twentieth century. This book, in three parts, interprets the development of a major theme over Thomas's twenty-seven volumes, probing particular themes and poems with a meticulous insight. The themes of identity, environment, and deity treated reflect the major preoccupations of his life and work. The book presents a comprehensive examination of these major themes as they occur across Thomas's substantial oeuvre, while providing an expanded frame within which the considerable complexity of Thomas's work can be explored. It suggests that such poetic explorations and revelations of identity provide the prima materia of the poetry and form an underlying foundation to Thomas's poetry viewed as a single body of work. Thomas's treatment of the natural world, in particular the theology of nature mysticism vital to much of his work, is then discussed. The book also looks closely at Thomas's increasing preoccupation with science. It explores his philosophical concern with a scientific register for poetry, his own experimentation with that register, his subtle ambivalence towards applied technology, his ongoing critique of 'the machine', and his view of modern physics. Finally, examining Thomas's 'religious poetry', the book re-focuses on the exact nature of his poetic approach to a 'theology of experience' as reflected in his 'mythic' and 'via negativa' modes. It highlights Thomas's 'reconfiguring' of theology, that is, his insistence on the central validity and importance of individual spiritual experience, both as absence and as presence.
exploration of ‘lost’ or ‘wounded’ selves, towards a deepening philosophical acceptance and what he calls ‘turning aside’.
Chapter 3 explores Thomas’s treatment of the naturalworld, in particular the theology of nature mysticism vital to much of his work. I will
argue for the importance of the naturalworld not only as revelatory for
Thomas but also as distinctly violent and discompassionate, a paradox
central to his understanding and his poetry.
Chapters 4 and 5 look closely at Thomas’s increasing preoccupation
with science: his long-standing philosophical concern with a
3 ‘Green asylum’: the naturalworld
William Scammell, in the ‘Introduction’ to his anthology This Green
Earth: A Celebration of Nature Poetry (1992), writes that
For the earliest men and women, and perhaps for some remote
tribes still today, nature was not so much an environment (a word
that didn’t get itself invented until the nineteenth century, and
grew tall with the advent of Darwinism) as the ground of being.
Consequently ideas of appreciating, loving, conserving or exploiting it hardly arose. It was simply
with an ecological slant to it, and
‘Green’ when referring to a political party.
The rise of environmentalism and ecologism
‘environmentalism’ defines concern for the naturalworld and its
protection from excessive human depredation. It constitutes no clear
political or ideological agenda. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek
words oikos (‘household’, ‘habitat’) and
, almost all of which involve
‘experiments’ in some way (486–7). The purpose of the institution is to produce knowledge (480); the kind of knowledge
sought is, without exception, the knowledge of nature.
If Francis Bacon is famous for anything, it is for a singular concern with natural science. In a series of works, Bacon lambasted
14/10/02, 9:36 am
his contemporaries for their ignorance and complacency about
the naturalworld, and proposed a series of increasingly bold
plans to remedy the situation. In his grand encyclopaedia
brought about by the war with the
destruction of man wrought by the same conflict. ‘Now the desolation of Nature
alone suggests what a desolation there was of man’, he wrote in 1920, ‘The
terrible woods are impressionist pictures of the ruined vitals of great regiments,
and you can hold a forest in your mind as you would a skull in your hands and
say, “This was a forest. This was an army”.’4 This view of the destruction of the
naturalworld being intrinsically linked to the deaths of countless soldiers was
duplicated by Lieutenant R.H. Pickering of the Royal Field
The paradoxes of sustainability and Michel Houellebecq’s The
Possibility of an Island
-economic inequality, the commission proposed, were problems which
needed to be tackled together and which no nation could hope to solve
on its own. At a time when environmentalists in most Western countries
were still focused on the protection of a naturalworld imagined as standing
apart from social concerns, the UN Commission insisted that ‘the rights of
people to adequate food, to sound housing, to safe water, to access to means
of choosing the size of their families’ (World Commission 1987: xi) should
be conceived of as environmental issues. Failure to address them would
Religion and spirituality in environmental direct action
Bronislaw Szerszynski and Emma Tomalin
from nature. By contrast, activists see themselves as
adopting styles of spirituality that stress the interconnectedness of the divine
with humanity and the naturalworld. A female protester at the Buddha Field
Festival expressed her doubts about ‘religion’, ‘I could see the same mistakes
being made again and again . . . I worship wherever I am even if it is concrete.’
She saw religious traditions as having lost an idea of the sacred, and as relying
on hierarchy, exclusion and dishonesty.
Just as with Zinnbauer et al.’s (1997) respondents, the ‘personal and
and naturalworlds into
new interenvironments’. The interenvironments of planetary
inequality that define the Anthropocene help reveal that ‘nature is
now a near perfect register for continued colonizations that
simultaneously serve as portals into the location and scale of
ecological destruction’ (Rowe 2003 :
This investigation takes its
Gender, sexual difference and knowledge in Bacon’s New Atlantis
signifiers of our relationship with the naturalworld
than has generally been recognised.
This essay raises four theoretical issues about the New Atlantis,
Bacon’s epistemology and its link to gender and sexual difference.
First, a utopia is a description of an ideal society:8 if gender and
sexual difference are central to Bacon’s new epistemology, this
should be textually transparent. Second, more complex analyses
of the utopian genre suggest that the utopian text betrays a
dialectical relationship to its originating society and ideology.
Jameson, for example, argues: