The Human Stain

Recently I enjoyed a beautiful hike in a state park that was quite raw in the sense that fallen trees had not been cleared away (for the most part) and we did not see a single soul over the course of two hours.

And yet there were some visually arresting moments…of the bad kind:


Upon seeing garbage in the middle of otherwise pristine woods, I was reminded of The Human Stain, a novel by Philip Roth.The Human Stain

The books is an exposition of the ugliness of humankind and ends with a vivid description of a frozen lake and the way in which it was formed over thousands of years, juxtaposed with the image of a nefarious man ice-fishing in the middle of this lake (the human stain on nature, in other words).


I am not anti-human at all and on the contrary feel that humankind is something to be celebrated despite all its flaws. However, I do understand the disgust that fueled Roth’s narrative and I felt the same disgust upon seeing trash in the forest.

What do people think and feel when they visit a place and then leave their garbage behind to rot?  Perhaps it is a moment of childish rebellion.  Or perhaps, even worse, it is devoid of any thought or intention at all — literally mindless.

What a depressing notion, and not one I relate to at all.


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