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(generated from captions) especially in poorer areas to buy everything they would like to. where the school might not be able (Bell rings) we have time for today, And that's all on our website. but there's heaps more

It's at And I'll see you next time. Closed Captions by CSI

This Program is Captioned Live. # Theme music I'm Waleed Aly. Hi and welcome to Big Ideas,

in this edition of the show - We've got a real treat for you Beat poet and Pulitzer Prize winner, a film profile of the famous Gary Snyder, and former anti-war activist. writer, poet, Zen monk and Allen Ginsberg He was a contemporary of Jack Kerouac and in this film, writer and poet Jim Harrison. he's in conversation with American

of American letters, These two, now old men prop in arm chairs wander along a wilderness trail,

poetry, politics, and chat over food and drink about ecology, life, relationships and Zen. some great archival material The film is punctuated by Snyder's years in Japan, from the Beat years, Snyder's very big contribution and friends and academics marking to the ecological debate.

we learn the terrain, GARY: The wild requires that and birds, nod to all the plants and animals

ford the streams and cross the ridges

when we get back home. and tell a good story

(Harp plays)

float in the blowing fog. 'The shack and a few trees I pull out your blouse. Warm my cold hands on your breasts.

You laugh and shudder, by the hot iron stove. peeling garlic Bring in the axe, the rake, the wood. against each other, We'll lean on the wall as it grows dark. stew simmering on the fire Drinking wine. It was clear to a lot of us that the legitimate heirs to the - to the transcendentalists legitimate intellectual heirs were the new American poets.

from Emerson, Thoreau, Rexroth, They, um - Snyder so clearly came the lineage was very clear. in his life, There are so many different phases childhood in the Pacific northwest from his sort of working class college and graduate school phase. to his bohemian phase - well, Um, the bohemian phase of the 1950s. and 1960s. The Zen immersion of the late '50s of the 1970s, Um, the reinhabitation phase where he decided to go - of the Sierra Nevada. deeply root himself in the foothills and '90s, The academic phase of the 1980s in a position at UC Davis. where he found himself reinvented himself Um, and, um, he's continually thoughtful, playful way, and done so in an imaginative, um, with a sort of seriousness, of a heaviness but not with a kind not without humor. or, you know, a thought that - what my wife Carole said about you? Did I ever tell you No. 'Is that Jim Harrison?' When she first met you she said, (Laughter) I said, 'yeah, that's Jim Harrison,'

on the Davis campus. as you're walking toward her 'He wrote Dalva?!' 'he's the guy who wrote Dalva.' 'Yeah,' I said, sensitivity to the woman.' 'I can't believe he has such ..a beast. She thought you were... Well, she just, she thought of female consciousness that you had captured a certain kind like nobody else had, and then seeing you threw her off. (Laughter)

It made her think twice about that. It's good for feminists to - The Practice of the Wild, 19 years ago, you sent me and you said, in the inscription, you probably do.' 'If anyone understands this stuff, rather faithfully for 43 years, Since I'd been reading you Cold Mountain. you know, since Riprap, to some wrong ideas about you. I, uh, wondering if it hadn't led me that's what we can discover. But I hope I'd like to find that out myself. Yes, of course. (Laughs) in a strong atheist family. I was brought up Oh, how interesting. Huh. wobbly types or... Were they populist, They were depression-era, grassroots, feminist socialists. labor-union-organising, Oh. And our neighbors were mostly Swedes. pretty far left. And the Swedes were all your parents had? Wasn't that a dairy farm a small dairy farm, yeah. Yeah, we had a small farm, Uh-huh. Depression era, you know, making due. fairly strictly in Texas, My mother had been brought up baptism or methodism, in, I don't know what, when she was about 12 years old. and she totally turned against it in anti-religious rhetoric. And then became very self-educated And secularism. for turning against it? What was her reason, do you think,

Uh-huh. Oh, didn't make any sense. to intellectual criticism. It didn't stand up

And she didn't like it. Uh-huh. in Buddhism, But when I became interested my mother, God bless her, said, isn't gonna help the people.' 'All that naval-gazing Yeah, that's wonderful. Yeah, right. 'The people.' In your early poetry, particularly, essential near-wildness of your work the poetry comes out of the and the rhythm of work. Like Riprap. and part of it was... Um, part of it was the work, I was really caught up at that time

of the - in looking for the simplicity in the English language. what simplicity I could find in graduate school at Berkeley. I'd been studying classical Chinese monosyllabic. Literary Chinese is strongly 'Well, A pre-Norman English, And so I thought, the English language the Germanic lineage of has a lot of monosyllables.' Uh-huh. And monosyllables are like rocks. with these rocks. And so, like, I was used to working with monosyllabic English, And I thought, 'I'm gonna try to work old-style vocabulary.' a little rock trail. Like I was building to read from this book ARCHIVE: The poems I'm going for the park service were written after I had been working of Yosemite National Park. on a trail crew in the high country Hay for the Horses. He had driven half the night From far down San Joaquin through Mariposa, up the dangerous mountain roads. And pulled in at 8:00am With his big truckload of hay behind the barn. GARY: With winch and ropes and hooks, We stacked the bales up clean To splintery redwood rafters High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa Whirling through shingle cracks of light. Itch of hay dust in the sweaty shirt and shoes. At lunchtime under black oak, Out in the hot corral. The old mare nosing lunch pails. Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds. 'I'm 68,' he said. I first bucked hay when I was 17. I thought, that day I started, 'I sure would hate to do this all my life. And, damn it, that's just what I've gone and done.' I'm wondering if you could recite that poem you used for your students. You know, how a poem comes. I could recite it, but I would probably change it. That doesn't matter, though. No, no. That was one of a series of little poems I wrote with the title 'How Poetry Comes to Me.' Yeah. Um, thinking about the ways that I perceive it as being there or as being accessible,

and that particular little poem was, I think, 'It stays frightened outside the circle of our campfire. I go to meet it at the edge of the light. You are in the ring of the firelight, and you go to meet the arriving poem at the edge of the darkness.

So the suggestion is that the dark is very rich too. True. And that came to me, actually, camping one night in the northern Sierra. And it actually happened the night that I went up that peak on the northern Sierra boundary line, the Matterhorn, with Jack Kerouac. Oh, goodness. Yeah. On your camping trip, the - We had to sleep one night on the trail. Uh-huh. So it was very cold. We started a fire. We had a big huge boulder behind us that was reflecting heat onto us too. That was nice, yeah. And as it got down below freezing I could hear animals - something, maybe deer - moving out in the edge of the darkness there. Uh-huh. So I walked step by step quietly out further and further from the heat and the light and more and more into the cold and the dark. Uh-huh! And I knew there were presences. Yes. And I said, 'Oh, yeah, this is like art.' Yes. Oh, goodness. Yeah, that's nice when a metaphor hits you over the head. Yeah, yeah. You know, I was thinking about that because I read that book The Dharma Bums and I was wondering how long was that actual trek in days? A couple of days or..? No, just two nights. Isn't it amazing? Well, that's what now belongs to - One night to the summit, back down to camp again. Second night, back to the car. 'Down valley, a smoke haze. Three days heat after five days rain. Pitch blows on the fir cones across rocks and meadows. Swarms of new flies. I cannot remember things I once read. A few friends, but they are in cities. Drinking cold snow water from a tin cup. Looking down for miles through high, still air.' At the Six Gallery reading Allen Ginsburg read Howl, a very famous poem. So... it is probably the most popular poem in the world today. And it was pro- all the things that it protested against are absolutely real. Uh, at the same time, and it caused a lot of stir in the press and caused a lot of stir in the public. That same evening, Gary Snyder read his very deep and important poem. It was the first... deep ecology, first poem of deep ecology I ever heard.

Matter of fact, it was, as far as I know, it was before the term 'deep ecology' was generally used, if used at all. I'm not sure of the exact... Anyway, it was the first poem of deep ecology I heard. And in that audience, many of the people who were terribly... moved by Howl

were even more moved by A Berry Feast by Gary Snyder. VOICE OVER: Gary Snyder is another poet identified with

the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, and Reed College. Snyder now lives in Kyoto, Japan, where hs is a student of Zen. But for part of 1965, he was a lecturer in the English department at the University of California at Berkeley. When asked to ad lib a biography, he gave his usual, direct answer. Well, I'd have to tell the truth. I was born in San Francisco, and at a very early age, I was moved to Seattle, where I grew up on a small farm just north of Seattle. Uh, later, about 12, we moved to Portland, Oregon. I went to college in Portland, Oregon. Uh, graduated from Reed College. Spent a little time at Indiana University, and then came back to the Bay area. I went here to Berkeley in the Oriental languages department for about three years, and then for the last eight years, I've almost constantly been living in Japan. This guy says to me - we're swimming in the cenote, those ocean pools that kind of - and I told you, he said, 'Look, if an anaconda comes up to you, don't worry, because he'll catch your scent and turn away.' And I said, 'Do you mind if I just go to the bar?' I'm not (Laughter) I am not quite ready for - I saw them in the zoo in Valladolid. You know, their heads are this big.

You know? I don't need an anaconda swimming up to me. Well, you know, there's a, uh, a stupa, a big, round dome, uh... cenotaph, uh, memorialising the Buddha in the city of Kathmandu, just on the outskirts. These are found here and there all over East Asia, with kind of a round, soft dome, and then a spire on top. Yeah, yeah. And a railing all around it. You know?

Uh, so when you go there in Kathmandu, people always go clockwise, sun-wise, circumambulating these, reciting little mantras, and it's all very, very good for your karma to do that. Uh, and these are herders and peasants and llamas and ordinary lay people going around it. Little light candles, oil lamps, going 24 hours. And lots of horses and yaks being led around as well. To get the spirit to...? Because the view is that there are not too many spiritual exercises that animals can do that will really work for them,

but circumambulating stupas is one of them. (Laughter) I love that! And so their owners take them around to improve their karma.

Yeah, why did you get onto that so early in your life? 'cause even when you were a college student, you were reading Chinese. You know, I got interested in Asia for the wrong reasons. (Laughs) You were attracted to the women? This is gonna get interesting, yeah. Uh, I was just a little kid growing up on a stump farm, uh, in the Depression, back in the woods. And, um, I was offended by my Lutheran Sunday school teacher. Now, that's the beginning of the story, not the end. Yeah. I was gonna say... Well, I was offended because we'd had a heifer on our dairy farm that had died, and I was really wrestling with metaphysical questions about death and animals and humans. Being a seven-year-old, yeah. Yeah. (Laughs)

So I - Age of reason. So in Sunday school, one of - I just had to raise the question, will I meet my heifer in heaven? Oh, that's so adorable. And the Sunday school teacher, you know, could have finessed the answer. If he had been a more sophisticated theologian. But what he said was, 'No. Animals don't go to heaven.' Well, I don't want to go there, then. That's exactly what I said. Our moral engagement with the non-human hit me very hard at that age. Uh-huh. And so that was the first thing to generate a certain interest in East Asia. So then later I was seeing Chinese landscape scrolls at the Seattle Art Museum, and then I was taking East Asian history courses. And of course I realised then this is - +these are heavy-duty civilizations with tremendous amounts of literacy. But the thought hit me - whether rightly or wrongly -

that maybe this is a case of the possibility of being highly civilised and also still respecting the non-human. (Shakuhachi flute plays) Well, here we are. Yes. Lot of country here. I know I'm not on the Upper East Side of New York, conclusively. My second wife, Joanne Kyger, when she came to Kyoto... Yeah. And she and I were talking about Buddhist practice. And she said, 'Well, what will happen if I do Buddhist practice?' I said, 'Well, maybe you'll lose yourself.' She says, 'Why would I want to do that? I just finally got a self.' Yes, right. Snyder left in February of '59, and I joined him a year later, uh, after I had, uh, I had run up a big bill at Macy's. I was living on my own in North Beach. And he said, 'Well, you can come after you've paid off your debts.' It was $1,000. So I went and lived at this place called the East-West House that was one of the first communal houses. And it was there for people who wanted to get ready to go to Japan. Did they really hang you over a cliff by your feet? Yeah. Jesus. That was just part of a beginning initiation ceremony. Just hold you by your ankles? Hold you by your ankles, yeah. Hold you way over this cliff.

I don't care for that. I'm vertiginous. And then they say, 'You have to answer our questions and tell the truth, or we'll drop you.' Ha! How kind of them. (Laughs) When I arrived there, I somehow weirdly thought I was gonna look out at a nation of pagodas. I said, 'This looks just like San Francisco.' 'We sat cross-legged in meditation a minimum of five hours a day. In the breaks, everyone did physical work - gardening, pickling, firewood cutting, cleaning the baths, taking turns in the kitchen. There were interviews with the teacher at least twice a day.' I thought, in my nickel-ante satories, I call them... (Chuckles) They're often - it comes from no effort, you know? It's a realisation. Yeah, finally. Emerging - well, finally. I suppose that's it. It's finally. Yeah, when you're not really finally working at it, it falls into your hand. 'Sleep was short. The food was meager. The rooms spare and unheeded. But this, in the '60s, was as true in the workers' or farmers' world as it was in the monastery.' The Zen knife cuts itself. Yeah. The old, uh, head monk at the Zen-do at Shao Kougaiji said that at a sesshin one year. Ah. He said, 'The perfect way is without difficulty. Strive hard!' (Laughs) Yeah, right. And I carried that around with me for years. I still do. Because both sides of it are true. 'Novices were told to leave their pasts behind them and to become one-pointed and unexceptional in all ways, except the intention to enter the narrow gate of concentration on their koan. When my brother died, who sort of became my father because my father died when I was a directionless 20-year-old. Then when my brother died several years ago, it was strange. I couldn't endure any reading except HaKohen. Uh-huh. It was so hard. Oh, god. You know there's nothing - in the experience of his death, there was nothing ameliorating. Ah.

I supposed you felt that way about Carol, huh? Ah... I stayed home and didn't see people for three months.

Uh-huh. It wasn't, you know, that I wanted to - I don't know what it was. I just didn't feel like seeing anybody. I wanted to feel things through and think things through. Uh-huh. And it wasn't even like suffering. It was like, 'this bears real reflection.' Uh-huh. Yeah. Uh-huh. I got a poem I want to read you about that. Yeah? That I'm not gonna show anybody else. Only one or two people. Soft rain squalls on the swells,

south of the Bonin Islands late at night. Light from the empty mess hall throws back bulky shadows of winch and fair lead

over the slanting fantail where I stand. But for men on watch in the engine room, the men at the wheel, the lookout in the bow, the crew sleeps in cots on deck or narrow iron bunks down drumming passageways below.

The ship burns with a furnace heart, steam veins and copper nerves. Quivers and slightly twists and always goes. Easy roll of the hull and deep vibrations of the turbines underfoot, bearing what all these crazed, hooked nations need - steel plate and long injections of pure oil. Another thing I was wondering about, because I read so many opposing views, just what you think of the idea of reincarnation. Oh, boy. Uh... I think it's a charming metaphor. Uh-huh. It's an 'as if' proposition. Uh-huh. Because that's all we can know anyway.

True. So take your... ..I mean, what I like to do is I got going on this when I was travelling and living in India. Yeah. OK. Let's say reincarnation is the world we're in. Yeah. Then how am I different? Uh-huh. A-ha. It means that I have done everything already. Yeah.

I've had every possible experience already. Uh-huh. I've been in every possible form. I've been a woman, I've been I've been a butterfly, I've been a mosquito. A tree. I like the idea of being a tree.

And so why be needy?

Why be looking for new experiences? Uh-huh, truly. Uh, let's settle in and see what we can really think about now. Uh-huh, true. It puts you in a different place. There's a kind of back and forth between the counterculture people from this country and some people in Japan. So he's heard stuff going on. When he comes back here, he's immediately plugged into the golden gate park be-in. He's immediately part of the San Francisco oracle culture. When they publish the big photograph of the gurus of the counterculture it's Tim Leary, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg. It's as if he's never been gone. He even has the right clothes, remember? You know, even is dressing like a hippie, even though he's come from Japan. I read that fascinating correspondence you had with Allen. Ginsberg. And I saw two things in there. I know you go out in public a reasonable amount, but he never stopped going out in public at all, did he? Ah, he lived a public life. Yeah, totally. Virtually, yeah. Yeah. And really quite at home in it. But you said that some people are very comfortable doing that. And others of us, uh, aren't. You know? I can hardly bear to do it at all anymore. Public life is like riding the subways in Tokyo. Yeah? You know, you dread it as you approach it.

The closer and closer you get to it, the more you dread it, till you actually go through the door, you get in the subway and ride - and then it's fine.

It's OK. I dreaded book tours so much that it was more unpleasant to dread them than to actually do them. Yeah. But Allen, you know, he followed a course of being a public figure, a public intellectual, a public gadfly and researcher. And supporter of certain values like the legalisation of drugs. Yeah. And, uh, opposition to war. And he never let up. So you don't feel that you're... inside yourself, that there's any kind of war between the public and private world? Uh, I don't do as much public as Allen ever did. No. And when I was traveling around with Allen many years ago,

I would have to stay at my pace,

which meant some days I'd say - Allen would say, 'Well, today, let's go there!' and I'd say, 'you go. I'm gonna stay here today and collect my wits.' Yeah, truly. Uh, which I always enjoyed doing, you know. Taking take a day off and meditate and catch up in my notebook. Yeah, truly. I don't know whenever Allen had time to do that. Snyder does not like to be called being called part of the beat generation, although it's become a real catch-all or cultural catch-all. Many of the positive things that the beats notably practiced have seeped into the general culture in a way that does not draw people to being influenced by them

or to studying them. They just - they're there. Like, I noticed 20 or 30 years ago when somebody asked me whatever happened to the beats - 'Whatever happened to you guys, anyway?' and I said, 'You're standing in front of me, kid. You're not calling me mister. You got long hair.

You're wearing Levis. You don't believe in war. You believe in... You... ..You idealise the female consciousness as well as the male. Uh... You are for the preservation of the planet. And there you are. Don't ask me where they went.' 'For those who would see directly into essential nature, the idea of the sacred is a delusion and an obstruction. Not only plum blossoms and clouds or lecturers and roshis, but chisels, bent nails, wheelbarrows, and squeaky doors are all teaching the truth of the way things are.' It always, I think it always made Gary nervous, the, um, potential... we wouldn't have then called it celebrityhood, but the celebrity culture, the hollowness of it, the temporary nature of it always troubled him. And remember, when he comes back to this country finally, he buys a piece of property in the foothills of the Sierras

and stays in town only for about six months before he goes up and begins to build a house at Kitkitdizze in a place with no electricity, um, no telephone, no access. And a very out-of-the-way homestead that he's bought with Dick Baker and Ginsberg, and he's the only one that goes directly up there and starts building. Gary, through his years of prolonged inhabitation of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada and his conscious efforts at reinhabitation to live responsibly in this place as if he were going to be there for thousands of years, as he's sometimes put it, that, has enabled him to really know that place and to, I think, reach toward the ideal of bioregionalism. I think he realize he wanted to get more into Japanese life and lifestyles, somehow the more, um... Farm community with the open, hearth in the middle and...

It really suited him. Which he, you know, later built up in Kitkitdizze. 'The rising hills, the slopes of statistics lie before us. The steep climb of everything going up, up, as we all go down. In the next century, or the one beyond that, they say, are valleys, pastures. We can meet there in peace... if we make it. To climb these coming crests, one word to you, to you and your children - stay together. Learn the flowers. Go light. Oh, you would like this quarrel I had with a copy editor, a fact checker. Mm-hmm. She said to me, 'that town you're talking about doesn't exist.' And I said, 'but I've been there.' And she says, 'I Googled it, and it's not there.' and I said, 'everything isn't, you know, in Google,' including the content of libraries. 'Oh, it's a little town in Nebraska on the Niobrara River. I selected it because it was the last... ..last of the battle of cultures.

The Lakota and us took place in that region. And it was amazing. 'cause we moved them three times at that time. You know, what did Philip Sheridan say, the old war monger? He admitted that an Indian reservation

is usually a worthless piece of land surrounded by scoundrels. That's what he said. You know. I don't know why we're laughing. It's still such a problem. No, it's a preposterously dark period, you know? You know, to go back a bit for a second to the practice of the wild, I find that it's hard to... People, including the environmentalists, have not taken well to the distinctions I tried to make there between nature, the wild, and wilderness. You know, I want to say again, the way I want to use the word nature would mean the whole physical universe. Truly. Yeah, like in physics. Yeah, right, exactly. So, not the outdoors. No, that's a false dichotomy. Yeah. Nature is what we're in.

If you want to try to figure out what's supernatural you can do that to. Uh-huh. (Both laugh) But you don't have to. And then the wild really simply refers to process

a process that's been going on. And wilderness is simply topos, it's areas where the process is dominant. Bio-regionalism is a social movement that emerged in the American west in the 1970s and basically it describes a type of political orientation that is local rather that global, that is nearby rather than far away. And it's based on the premise that if people pay attention to where they are and think responsibly about their interactions with the local environment +and with the local human community, they can do a better job, they are likely to do a better job managing their own affairs and their interactions with the natural environment than people who are located far away and who are less invested in that place. You know, I just want to interrupt to say something about all this conversation. It's a really North American conversation. OK. This is not something you can talk about in this way anymore in Europe or Asia. Maybe among hippies or, you know, I don't know. What do you mean? Because Europe and Asia are too humanised. Their populations are too large - Too urbanised.

Too urbanised, too agrarianized. Uh-huh. Interesting. Interesting. There's not enough habitat, there's not enough wildlife, there are not enough people left that are engaged with interacting with other creatures in those parts of the world. You would never hear of this conversation in Japan, except maybe in the remote parts of Hokkaido - Sure where people engage with the brown bears up there.

Or, you know - And is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Does that have any - Yeah, it's a good thing that we can still do it here. OK. And I'll tell you why. OK. Planetary normal. What would be a normal planet would have lots fewer people and lots more animals. And what we have now is an irregular, abnormal and dangerous condition. Of the human animal? Of all animals. OK. There are too many human animals. Too many humans. There's too many human animals and the habitat and the existence of too many other creatures is endangered, and we all need each other to be together. With sanity. It's a matter of planetary sanity. Balance. Nature always happens in a place. Yeah, truly. Ah, nature happens in a place and generally, whatever you see and learn you learn in a small place. Yeah. You learn to mushroom, you learn to flower. You learn to bird. You learn a slope, a canyon, a gulch, a grove of trees, a stand of trees... Uh-huh. place. And we all live in a place. Truly. Or we should. We live in particular.

Even if you're only there for a few months you're in a place. Uh-huh. So why not look around and see where you are? Gary's poetry is an infusion into our culture that's not sufficiently recognised for the power and the depth and the spread of it.

Introducing the term on an almost silly level - it's not silly at all - but on a very minor level, in a way, introducing the term, Turtle Island, to the country. Whoa! It's cool! Turtle Island was a book that in its time sold 100,000 copies and was a hugely influential book in the environmental movement in the Buddhist movement in the Native American movement in the Reinhabitation movement in the Bio-regional movement in the poetry movement

it was a book that won the Pulitzer. It won - not the National Book Critic Circle, but another major prize. It was and is a hugely influential book. Ah, to be alive, On a mid-September morn Fording a stream barefoot Pants rolled up, Holding boots Pack on, sunshine, Ice in the shallows High Sierra The rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters Stones turning underfoot Small and hard as toes Cold nose dripping Singing inside Creek music, heart music Smell of sun on gravel

I pledge allegiance to the soil Of Turtle Island, North America And to the beings who thereon dwell One ecosystem In diversity Under the sun

With joyful interpenetration for all We won't be white men 1,000 years from now.

We won't be white men 50 years from now, quite. And the whole society is going some place else. I feel this is one the most exciting works of poetry writing is to capture and to make contact with those areas of the unconscious that belong to the whole American continent, the non-white world. The world of mythology and intuitive insight that belongs with primitive cultures. And ultimately getting back in touch, not only with ourselves, but with the natural world, with nature, which we've been out of contact with for so long that we've almost destroyed the planet. Life in the world is not just eating berries in the sunlight. I like to imagine a depth-ecology that would go to the dark side of nature. The ball of crunched bones in a scat. The feathers in the snow.

The tails of insatiable appetite. It is also nocturnal. And aerobic. Cannibalistic. Microscopic. Digestive. Fermentative, cooking away in the warm dark. (Laughter) You guys mentioned reincarnation earlier today, and I'm just wondering do you actually believe in it then? Or you just think the idea's nice? Metaphor. It's charming to think about. Yeah. Yeah? And it's very poetic. And I like to think of walking the ghost trail. Walking the ghost trail in the stars. Yeah? Ah, I wouldn't count on it. I like the idea of being a tree, a tree that bends and dances in the wind, stuff like that, and has nests - bird nests in it. I just think that I would just love to be a tree for 100,000 years. Trees don't live that long, Jim. No, but a tree should generate - But a tree family does. A tree family? You'd like to be a species rather than an animal. But the idea of it coming... Gary is remarkable because Gary is 79 years old. And still, he can wear you out hiking, he can put away a lot of wood, he can handle a lot of work around the place. He complains that he's slowing down a little bit, but I sure can't see it. But above all else, he remains intensely curious.

So he's very much involved with the work of a few friends, and he tries to stay on top of their interests as well as his own. He's that kind of person - he'll go to Alaska, and all of a sudden what he wants to find out is, 'What is it about Halibut fishermen? Who are these guys and what do they do?' So, he's always filled with enthusiasms, and I think that's the secret of a long life, if you can remain enthusiastic and curious. Standing at the baggage, passing time Austin, Texas, airport My ride hasn't come yet My former wife is making websites from her home

One son is seldom seen The other one and his wife have a boy and girl of their own. My wife and stepdaughter are spending weekdays in town so she can get to high school My mother, 96, still lives alone, and she's in town too Always gets her sanity back just in time

My former former wife has become a unique poet Most of my work, such as it is,

is done Full moon was October 2nd this year I ate a moon cake, Slept out on the deck, White light beaming through the black boughs of the pine, Owl hoots and rattling antlers Castor and Pollux rising strong It's good to know that the pole star drifts That even our present night sky slips away Not that I'll see it Or maybe I will, much later, some far time, walking the spirit path in the sky,

that long walk of spirits where you fall right back into the narrow, painful passageway of the bardo, Squeeze your little skull,

and there you are again, waiting for your ride. I used to tell students, when they were being unpleasant,

the difference between poetry and you is you look in the mirror and say, 'I'm getting old,' right? But Shakespeare looks in the mirror and says, 'Devouring time, blunt thou thy lion's paws.' A travelling Zen monk - Yeah. On route from his home monastery back to his home temple, even today has a travelling bag that he wears around his neck. And sewed into it are some 10,000 yen notes. Those are to pay for his cremation if he somehow dies on the road. Wow. That's real - that's how not to be a bother.

Not to be a bother. I was hiking in the Sierra high country on scree and talus fields one time. Uh-huh. Looking, you know, at my feet. Yeah. And, uh, I noticed then, every rock was different. Sure. Yeah, there were no two little rocks the same. Huh. So, you know, there is no, maybe, no identity in the whole universe. Hah, that's an intriguing idea.

As the crickets' soft autumn hum is to us, so are we to the trees, as are they to the rocks and the hills. That was The Practice of the Wild, with one of the best known Beat poets, Gary Snyder. He's in conversation

with the great American writer and poet, Jim Harrison. The title of the film is drawn from a collection of Snyder's poems. Other collections of his poetry include Mountains and Rivers Without End, No Nature, New and Selected Poems, and the earlier Turtle Island, which won the Pulitzer for poetry. That's all in Big Ideas today, I'm Waleed Aly, see you next time.

Closed Captions by CSI

This Program is Captioned


Strange days indeed, the

Opposition sprints for the

doors but gets stuck with Craig

Thomson's vote. Lock the doors,

too late. The figures fail to

add up for a debt-stricken

add up for a debt-stricken

Melbourne college. It's

happened again, northern Italy

shaken by another damaging


TRANSLATION: We went in a panic

to the square, there were bits

of rubble falling. And a case

of the real estate agent, the

missing landlord and a mountain

of unclaimed rent. We hired a very well known private