My exploration of generally true patterns was inspired by a number of sources. Among the most important was Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946). A self-described “artist-naturalist,” Seton was a master wilderness explorer, educator and and social innovator.
His interests included an impressive array of subjects from history to art, from nature to childhood development, from sign language to world peace.
In my 2010 book about him, I wrote about his importance to the 20th century. He co-founded the wildlife conservation and worldwide Scouting movements. He helped lay the groundwork for radical environmentalism.
As a scientist, he published important works on birds and mammals, and established important concepts in ecology and ethology (animal behavior). He emerged by the early 1890s as the most important wildlife artist of his time. By the end of the decade he established himself as one of the best-selling authors of his generation.
Perhaps most significantly, he changed the consciousness of Western Civilization about the nature of animals. He rejected the Cartesian model of animals as mechanical things. Like Darwin (whose books he read) and Native Americans (with whom he lived and studied) he saw animals as our relations. Logically following from that premise was our moral responsibility to look after these relatives through the conservation movement. And to teach youth about all this through Scouting and his own Woodcraft League.
Seton is a good fit for this radical natural history blog, but a large enough historical subject for me to require a separate blog on Seton’s history, art and writings.
This new blog is part of the Seton Legacy Project, a program of the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We will open a new exhibition on August 12 this year, Lobo, King of Currumpaw. Accompanied by a graphic novel of the same name, it is the story of a historical wolf who lived in New Mexico in 1894. Pursued by Seton, Lobo represents a larger narrative about our relationship to nature. Get a free e-book with this story from Project Gutenberg.
The essays on my Seton blog will cover his life, his beliefs, and his influence. Please visit and share the word.