Excuse me as I dust off this here keyboard… (cough, cough, wheeze). It’s been a while hasn’t it? Not that I haven’t had inspirations or stories to tell (I have), I’ve just been up to my elbows in work, work, work (which is a good thing).

But the Yuba semester has ended, nearly every grade turned in, and now I find myself with a couple of more hours per day to ponder or call my own. So with that, do expect a couple of more posts per month than what’s been coming out.

News flash – The ISSRNC (International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture) selected my proposed paper for the upcoming conference this August at Pepperdine University. Malibu here I come! The theme of the conference is “Nature and the Popular Imagination.” To that end I proposed a paper that focuses on the 1719 publication of Robinson Crusoe, one of the first mega novels in terms of sales. In other words, to state that William Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was popular among the English reading world of the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries would be a gross understatement. This novel’s popularity still remains – a seemingly timeless classic. I argue, however, that the book also serves as a cultural marker, a place in the collective English and American cultural past the shows an already defined predilection toward capitalism. It’s a bit Weberian (Max Weber argued that were it not for Protestants, Capitalism would not exist), especially because of the devout religiosity of the Crusoe character.

Pepperdine University, site of the August 2012 ISSRNC Conference on Religion, Nature, and Culture.

Further, both Thomas Hobbes and John Locke wrote about man in a “State of Nature.” So, too, did Defoe. Whereas Hobbes and Lock placed the theme of man in a “State of Nature” in political and philosophical treatises, Defoe’s musings on this theme found a home in fiction. This exposure of man in a State of Nature theme met a resoundingly larger and therefore more “vulgar” or “popular” audience than the tracts of Hobbes and Locke. But what this demonstrates is an early eighteenth-century cultural affinity very much alive today – that mankind possesses a moral obligation to hold dominion over nature, manipulate what is raw and turn it into something useful for the benefit of mankind. How capitalistic is that? From 1719 no less. Should be fun.

Advertisements