Solnit, Rebecca “Wanderlust” (Penguin 2000)

We tend to consider the foundations of our culture to be natural, but every foundation had builders and an origin–which is to say that it was a creative construction, not a biological inevitability. Just as a twelfth-century cultural revolution ushered in romantic love as first a literary subject and then a way of experiencing the world, so the eighteenth century created a taste for nature without which William and Dorothy Wordsworth would not have chosen to walk long distances in midwinter and to detour from their already arduous course to admire waterfalls. This is not to say that no one felt a tender passion or admired a body of water before these successive revolutions; it is instead to say that a cultural framework arose that would inculcate such tendencies in the wider public, give them certain conventional avenues of expression, attribute to them certain redemptive values, and alter the surrounding world to enhance those tendencies. It is impossible to over-emphasize how profound is the effect of this revolution on the taste for nature and the practice of walking. It reshaped both the intellectual world and the physical one, sending populations of travelers hitherto obscure destinations, creating innumerable parks, preserves, trails, guides, clubs, and organizations and a vast body of art and literature with almost no precedent before the eighteenth century (85).

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