Miles explained that he hoped she might 'comment on attractiveness, ease of walking, clarity of the alignment and anything else she might find notable’. For the first time I realized that the crocodile was growling, as if angry. Part memoir, part collection of philosophical and eco-feminist essays, The Eye of the Crocodile contains Plumwood’s last pieces of writing – she was working on the draft when she died in 2008. I learned many lessons from the event, one of which is to know better when to turn back and to be more open to the sorts of warnings I had ignored that day. The idea of human prey threatens the dualistic vision of human mastery in which we humans manipulate nature from outside, as predators but never prey. Val Plumwood, Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason, Routledge, New York, 2001. Thirty-two years before a woman managed to shoo away a croc with her flip flop, Val Plumwood faced down a reptile in the same park in 1985. The trail departed from a tributary of the East Alligator River near the station. I didn’t see it for quite some time. The golden eyes glinted with interest. So I write a lot about that now. The National Museum of Australia acknowledges First Australians and recognises their continuous connection to country, community and culture. From the 1970s until her death in 2008, Plumwood worked to expose problematic attitudes towards the natural world that she identified within Western culture and thought. This proved to be extremely difficult. After what seemed like a long time, I heard the distant sound of a motor and saw a light moving on the swamp's far side. Before my foot even tripped the first branch, I had a blurred, incredulous vision of great toothed jaws bursting from the water. From the 1970s she played a central role in the development of radical ecosophy. As the pandemic rages now through the heartland, I’m trying hard to understand how so many people in this country can be so convinced that this coronavirus is not real—even some people who are dying of it. As in the repetition of a nightmare, when the dreamer is stuck fast in some monstrous pattern of destruction impervious to will or endeavor, the horror of my first escape attempt was exactly repeated. So important is the story and so deep the connection to others, carried through the narrative self, that it haunts even our final desperate moments. This website contains names, images and voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Sign in with your online account. Her knowledge of natural systems deepened through decades of close engagement with the vibrant rainforest biota of Plumwood Mountain, where she lived in southern New South Wales, and from which she took her name. In 1985 Val Plumwood visited Kakadu. Towards the end of her stay, Plumwood camped at the East Alligator ranger station where Greg Miles was planning a new walking trail. Although I was paddling to miss the crocodile, our paths were strangely convergent. She tried to jump from the canoe into a tree to escape the crocodile, but the crocodile jumped too. As a story that evoked the monster myth, mine was especially subject to masculinist appropriation. I turned back with a feeling of relief. Everything else is food for us, but we’re not food for anything else. But putting that insight into words can take years. It seems to me that in the human supremacist culture of the West there is a strong effort to deny that we humans are also animals positioned in the food chain. In ‘Being prey’, a landmark scholarly article published in 1996, Plumwood wrote about the dramatic events that unfolded: After exploring the channel, and with a growing sense of unease, Plumwood decided to return to her caravan at the East Alligator station: As I pulled the canoe out into the main current, the torrential rain and wind started up again; the swelling stream would carry me home the quicker, I thought. As my own narrative and the larger story in which it was embedded were ripped painfully apart, I glimpsed beyond my own realm a shockingly indifferent world of necessity in which I had no more significance than any other edible being. In despair, I grabbed the branch again. I prayed for a quick finish and decided to provoke it by attacking it with my free hands. I can't make it, I thought. And I think this has got a lot to do with why we don’t take account of the environmental crisis. What I could see was bad enough. I gripped the branch and pulled away, dodging around the back of the fig tree to avoid the forbidding mud bank, and tried once more to climb into the paperbark tree. Admittedly Plumwood is a kind of academic but the story of her surviving an attack by a crocodile leaves one with the impression that she knows. Then I was seized between the legs in a red-hot pincer grip and whirled into the suffocating wet darkness. Large predators like lions and crocodiles present an important test for us. I had not gone more than five or ten minutes down the channel when, rounding a bend, I saw in midstream what looked like a floating stick—one I did not recall passing on my way up. Not long ago, saltwater crocodiles were considered endangered, as virtually all mature animals in Australia's north were shot by commercial hunters. He had driven to the canoe launch site on a motorized trike and realized I had not returned. This forum talks about Plumwood’s work and how it helps us understand our place in the world. Then it is merely a question of holding the now feebly struggling prey under the water a while for an easy finish to the drowning job. Horror movies and stories also reflect this deep-seated dread of becoming food for other forms of life: Horror is the wormy corpse, vampires sucking blood, and alien monsters eating humans. At the same instant, the crocodile rushed up alongside the canoe, and its beautiful, flecked golden eyes looked straight into mine. I set off on a day trip in search of an Aboriginal rock art site across the lagoon and up a side channel. The reserve included most of the area that became Kakadu National Park in 1979. The rain and wind stopped with the onset of darkness, and it grew perfectly still. I was free. by Val Plumwood, from the book The Ultimate Journey | July-August 2000. The glow has slowly faded, but some of that new gratitude for life endures, even if I remain unsure whom I should thank. I am more than just food! Their cultural stories often express continuity and fluidity between humans and other life that enables a degree of transcendence of the individual's death. In her later work, Plumwood emphasised the vulnerability of modern, industrial society to the forceful effects of anthropogenic climate change and ecological degradation — a vulnerability produced by a widespread cultural failure to understand human dependence on dynamic and life-giving systems of nature. Edges are one of the crocodile's favorite food-capturing places. That's why I tried to minimize publicity and save the story for my friends alone. Val Plumwood & Friends: blog site set up for friends to share thoughts and information. In this essay, environmental philosopher and ecofeminist, Val Plumwood tells the story of how she survived a crocodile attack when canoeing in Kakadu National Park, Australia.Ironically, her actions as a conservationist contributed to the large numbers of crocodiles in the park and an unconsidered increased risk of human attacks: The terrifying experience of surviving a crocodile attack while canoeing alone in Kakadu National Park in the Top End of the Northern Territory in 1985 inspired Plumwood to explore philosophical ideas about death within an ecological context. “The Crocodile Story: Being Prey” by Val Plumwood “The unheard of was happening; the canoe was under attack! Miles knew that Plumwood was an experienced long distance bushwalker, and asked her to walk the proposed route and provide feedback. The crocodile then holds the feebly struggling prey underwater until it drowns. As I began my 13-hour journey to Darwin Hospital, my rescuers discussed going upriver the next day to shoot a crocodile. I spoke strongly against this plan: I was the intruder, and no good purpose could be served by random revenge. Adapted from The Ultimate Journey (Travelers’ Tales, 1999). Dingoes howled, and clouds of mosquitoes whined around my body. I was growing weaker, but I could see the crocodile taking a long time to kill me this way. This desperate delusion split apart as I hit the water. I went some distance before realizing with a sinking heart that I had crossed the swamp above the ranger station in the canoe and could not get back without it. Already a Member? It is, essentially, an experience beyond words of total terror. In the early wet season, Kakadu's paperbark wetlands are especially stunning, as the water lilies weave white, pink, and blue patterns of dreamlike beauty over the shining thunderclouds reflected in their still waters. I braced myself against the branch ready for another roll, but after a short time the crocodile’s jaws simply relaxed. The media machine headlined a garbled version anyway, and I came under great pressure, especially from the hospital authorities, whose phone lines had been jammed for days, to give a press interview. But putting that insight into words can take years. Plumwood recommended that creative communicators bring new ideas to our dying culture; stories that help us find our way home to the family of life. The left thigh hung open, with bits of fat, tendon, and muscle showing, and a sick, numb feeling suffused my entire body. Throughout the region, government agencies commonly issued canoes for staff to undertake official duties. The balanced rock suggests a link between my personal insensitivity and that of my culture. Towards the end of her stay, Plumwood camped at the East Alligator ranger station where Greg Miles was planning a new walking trail. I recall thinking with relief, as I struggled from the attack site, that I now had a good excuse for being late with an overdue article and a foolish but unusual story to tell a few friends. We act as if we live in a separate realm of culture in which we are never food, while other animals inhabit a different world of nature in which they are no more than food, and their lives can be utterly distorted in the service of this end. He had heard my faint call for help, and after some time, a rescue craft appeared. The crocodile dragged Val Plumwood out of a tree. Val Plumwood, who has died aged 68 from a stroke, was an eminent Australian environmental philosopher who lived life on her own terms, often in opposition to prevailing mores. I braced myself for another roll, but then its jaws simply relaxed; I was free. After a stint as visiting professor of women's studies at North Carolina State University, she has returned to Australia and is now ARC Fellow at the University of Sydney. They slid into warm, unresisting holes (which may have been the ears, or perhaps the nostrils), and the crocodile did not so much as flinch. Plumwood, originally known as Val Routley, took her adopted surname from a variety of tree near her wilderness home. And once again, after a time, I felt the crocodile jaws relax, and I pulled free. While exploring the East Alligator Lagoon and its backwaters in a canoe borrowed from the park service, Plumwood was attacked by a saltwater crocodile. During the attack, the pain from the injuries had not fully registered. I tensed for the jump and leapt. It provides a detailed discussion of the attack. The ranger had assured her that the saltwater crocodiles, notorious man … by Val Plumwood, from the book The Ultimate Journey, Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide, Functional Medicine for Autoimmune Diseases, Your Revolution at Home: Radical Fossil Fuel Divestment. The attack taught her to review the relationship she and other humans have with animals and nature. Val Plumwood was an eminent Australian environmental philosopher. I was close to it now but was not especially afraid; an encounter would add interest to the day. The wonder of being alive after being held—quite literally—in the jaws of death has never entirely left me. The grass tuft began to give way. I knew now that I must break the pattern. 15% off DVDs and more at Animal Planet Store* A quiet afternoon in a canoe is quickly interrupted by a hostile crocodile. I braced myself against the branch ready for another roll, but after a short time felt the crocodile's jaws suddenly relax. the attack), Val Plumwood was equipped to write an account which is much more than an adventure story, one which addresses the meaning of our lives and major philosophical issues of our time. In February 1985, Val Plumwood was having a lovely time canoeing by herself in Australia’s Kakadu National Park. I threw myself at it with all of my failing strength, scrabbling with my hands for a grip, failing, sliding, falling back to the bottom, to the waiting jaws of the crocodile. I was alive! "You can play about on the backwaters," the ranger had said, "but don't go onto the main river channel. When I pulled my canoe over in driving rain to a rock outcrop for a hasty, sodden lunch, I experienced the unfamiliar sensation of being watched. In Western thinking, in contrast, the human is set apart from nature as radically other. For the first year, the experience of existence as an unexpected blessing cast a golden glow over my life, despite the injuries and the pain. By the same token, the narrative self is threatened when its story is taken over by others and given an alien meaning. By Val Plumwood. Cultures differ in how well they provide for passing on their stories. A woman who survived a ferocious "death roll" crocodile attack in the wild has been killed after being bitten by a snake in her garden. In time, after the canoe had deteriorated in condition and was, for all purposes, abandoned by park management, Andrew rescued it from the dry dump for his children to use as play equipment. Thinking I had the eye sockets, I jabbed my thumbs into them with all my might. One especially striking rock formation—a single large rock balanced precariously on a much smaller one—held my gaze. In her 1996 essay "Being Prey", Plumwood described her near-death experience during the crocodile attack. Val Plumwood, who was a respected academic and environmentalist, was found dead on … In her 1996 paper ‘Being Prey’, Val Plumwood interpreted the crocodile attack in terms of the significant body of environmental philosophy that she’d developed over decades: [B]efore the event, I saw the whole universe as framed by my own narrative, as though the two were joined perfectly and seamlessly together. Val Plumwood (11 August 1939 – 29 February 2008) was an Australian philosopher and ecofeminist known for her work on anthropocentrism. An ecologist who survived a crocodile attack has been killed by a snake. As a solitary specimen of a major prey species of the saltwater crocodile, I was standing in one of the most dangerous places on earth. Unbeknownst to Plumwood and Miles, heavy rainfall upriver had begun to swell the East Alligator and the river was soon to flood. The thought, ‘This can’t be happening to me, I’m a human being not meat, I don’t deserve this fate!’ was one component of my terminal incredulity. For the first time I became aware of the low growling sound issuing from the crocodile's throat, as if it was very angry. Because we think we are so totally special and apart. Hi, thanks for stopping by. I tore up some clothing to bind the wounds and made a tourniquet for my bleeding thigh, then staggered on, still elated from my escape. This is what the mass media do in stereotyping and sensationalizing stories like mine—and when they digest and repackage the stories of indigenous peoples and other subordinated groups.
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