Almanack Contributor Marianne Patinelli-Dubay

Marianne Patinelli-Dubay


I am an environmental philosopher with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry'. My academic background in philosophy and interdisciplinary humanities includes a BA, MA and PhD (ABD) anticipated in 2013.

My dissertation research titled Long Suffering: The Great Experiment for Humanity focuses on a series of related questions beginning with a thesis on the socio-historical and philosophical reasons for the absence of African American communities in the Adirondack Park, followed by a discussion around how this demographic reality might be corrected for the two-fold benefit of excluded communities and regional conservation initiatives.

As a resident Adirondack philosopher working for a college of science and forestry I am naturally devoted to understanding the regional intersections of nature, culture, science and ethics. I approach this work through projects with an interdisciplinary reach in collaboration with institutions and organizations throughout NYS. These projects include teaching philosophy for children in the primary and secondary schools, seminars in a range of topics for college students, workshops for government and non-government professionals in applied ethics, public lectures and symposia open to the general public and seminars in ethics and morality designed for prisoner populations in the Adirondacks.



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Adirondack Philosophy: Indentity and Experience

Last month I considered how a condition of inter-subjectivity might be responsible for whether and how our surroundings influence who we are and what we create.  Picking up where I left off, this morning I’m turning over the question of how the lived-world draw us forth and how it is drawn into our creative process.  It seems to me that the world infuses us with its own being and we, who are being given the world, interpret and draw out its edge through our own lifework before we deliver it back into community as self-expression.  A tripartite process of what is given, literally what is submitted, what is received in » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spring Land Use, Ethics Symposium in Newcomb

The Adirondack Almanack has recently been enlivened by a series substantive of conversations around land use in the Adirondacks.  I invite anyone interested in continuing those conversations to participate in the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Interdisciplinary Scholarship in Land Use and Ethics 2nd Annual Symposium May 17–19, 2013 at the Newcomb campus.  On its best day, philosophy succeeds in sending “the conversation off in new directions.”

With a free exchange of ideas and a commitment to inquiry, philosophy as both catalyst and conveyor ought to “engender new normal discourses, new sciences, new philosophical research and thus new objective truths.” This project provides us with an opportunity to do » Continue Reading.



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Adirondack Philosophy: Coaxing the Muse

Over the past few months I’ve been considering what it means to be subjects in and subject to place.  I’ve wondered if this condition of inter-subjectivity is responsible for whether and how our surroundings influence who we are and what we create.

On the one hand, influence is explicit when we make representative art as in landscape painting or poetry and prose whose subject is Emerson’s lake water whipped



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Adirondack Philosophy: In Search of a Dwelling

My mind is full of questions and my heart follows, seeking in its own way.  Fortunately, the consolation of philosophy lies in the convergence of heart and mind deep within this process of inquiry born of struggle.  Coffee in hand to fortify me in the process and with a July mountain morning on the rise, my gaze wandered in the direction of a painting that my mother made many years ago.

Despite being obscured by the turned angle of his body and the quietly bent head, the subject of the painting would likely be known to anyone familiar enough to be in my home to see it.  The figure’s posture gives him away, more than » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Philosophy: Solitude And The New Age of Privacy

I wouldn’t call myself a “morning person” but I do like the way the day has a kind of endless feel when I get up with the sun.  This time of year the world around this little house is alive with the spring song of rushing brook water, birds, and that subtle sound of bloom rubbing against bloom that is quieted in winter.  So, I follow my cat’s lead and stretch into the day in response to the sounds of the outside waking up.  Click on NCPR, draw a dark roast, pour some granola, gather pen and paper, settle into a soft chair and begin.

It was on such a morning recently when a report came » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Adirondack Philosophy: A Cultural Forum

We understand who we are and we imagine who we want to become by telling stories through the interrelated mediums of art, prose, music and spirituality.  The shapes that these narratives take are influenced by the places where they, and we, are rooted.  Influence is a subtle and often implicit force.  It is the stuff beyond mere representation, or the explicit reference to particular geographies (this mountain or that stream).  Influence is ephemeral and as the poet Rilke wrote, it falls on me like moonlight on a window seat.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Adirondack Philosophy: The Landscape of Memory

My friend and I walked down a trail at the end of the afternoon, mindful that this day soon would slip from the present into memory. We had spent the last several hours on the side of a hill looking more often out at the Adirondacks in the distance, than at the near landscape where we whiled away.

In retrospect this was fitting since most of our recollections, all of our shared stories at least, had settled years ago between the rise of those mountains and the fall of their valleys. And here we were, older and perhaps better though surely in other » Continue Reading.



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Adirondack Philosophy as Field Work

What happens to philosophy when we liberate it from the Ivory Tower and from the confines of coursework, academic publications and specializations that can feel like falling head-long down the rabbit hole? What does a philosopher become when she isn’t simply a teacher of curriculum, evaluated and validated by measurable outcomes? What is to be done when the hand-wringing and concerned looks of parents and friends turn into real questions like how in the name of all the esoteric nonsense will the rent get paid? Or more to the point: what are you going to do with this training? Not to worry. When all else fails » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Philosophy: A New Vision for Old Woods

Something has had men heading for the interior, long before Henry David Thoreau publicly declared “I am leaving the city more and more, and withdrawing into the wilderness.” And as men of a certain tradition in 19th century America began to make their private pilgrimages public through written and artistic records, their excursions and revelations became canonized.

These meditations contributed to a change in national ideas about the value and fragility of nature and “man’s” place within it.

I understand the importance of reaching back into our histories to understand the cultural touchstones like these that have come to signify certain ideas and ideals, certain styles » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Philosophy: The Culture of Adirondack Lean-tos

It’s funny the questions people ask me these days. Earlier this week some colleagues were talking about whether or not to restore a dilapidated lean-to that sits on private land somewhat accessible from a new recreation corridor. The issue was debated around whether the lean-to would become an “attractive nuisance” encouraging travelers to camp at the site. If so, perhaps it should be left to go back to nature, as it were. As the conversation wore on someone turned to me and asked “why do people travel distances and sometimes even risk trespassing on private property just to stay in a lean-to, when they could simply » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adirondack Native, Local, Outsider or Stranger?

A few years ago I noticed a small sign taped to a cash register in a local store. It read “no checks from strangers.” Well, I reasoned, this is a quirky establishment so I smiled and went on my way. Sometime later I was talking with someone who asked me where I was from. I answered and she raised her chin, looked down and replied, “Oh, you’re an outsider.”

I live on a road that is closed this time of year but this morning the automated gate stood open in protest to the cold. Despite the impossible-to-miss “Road Closed” sign, a vehicle drove slowly through. When » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Philosophy: Aldo Leopold, Heresy and Prophecy

I was nineteen when I first considered what has become a personally recurrent theme: what is the role of the divine in an aesthetic life? Is a beautiful life animated by the poetic mysteries?

One etymological reading of “atheism” is to be abandoned by the gods, godless. And as if abandonment wasn’t enough to spur repentance, a beloved and deeply spiritual teacher once told me that to be an atheist is to declare a world without the divine. Why, I wondered, does that world seem as attractive as a strip mall, so terribly un-poetic and not at all like a reality that I want to » Continue Reading.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Adirondack Philosophy: What’s in a Blog?

Three times last week someone approached me in a crowd and asked, “Are you the Adirondack Philosopher?” Since I wasn’t wearing my customary toga, my chariot was parked some distance away and I wasn’t strolling through the square asking leading questions, I was at once pleased and caught off guard.

It is a testament to the popularity of the Adirondack Almanack that this happens as often as it does, and in the most unlikely places. Last week it happened while I was inside a medium security prison, it happened again at a planning meeting several towns away and again at a » Continue Reading.



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Join the Land Use and Ethics Conversation

You are invited to contribute to the discourse, re-interpret the topic and skew the pitch. Join in the process and take part in influencing the way we think about land use and ethics. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute invites submissions for its Symposium of Interdisciplinary Scholarship in Land Use and Ethics, to be held at the Adirondack Interpretive Center on Huntington Wildlife Forest in Newcomb. See full symposium details here.

On its best day, philosophy succeeds in sending “the conversation off in new directions.” With a free exchange of ideas and a commitment to inquiry, philosophy » Continue Reading.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Philosophy: Considering Diversity and Equality

A while back I asked why it matters whether women are represented in science? I was interested to know if we care about whether a variety of communities show up in fields, professions and pastimes, why do we care? Is it simply a matter of increasing the number of loyalists to our mission, or does it come from an openness to change the very system that stands resolute like Uncle Sam declaring “I want you!”



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Philosophy: Getting Busy, and Meaning It

In his poem The Adirondacks Ralph Waldo Emerson begins to describe an expedition into the Adirondack wilderness by noting that the travelers unburdened themselves from their day-to-day lives:

Happier as they Slipped off their pack of duties, leagues behind, At the first mounting of the giant stairs. No placard on these rocks warned to the polls, No door-bell heralded a visitor, No courier waits, no letter came or went, Nothing was ploughed, or reaped, or bought, or sold I can appreciate this imagery and the attraction of leaving it all behind for a holiday. But many of us reading the Almanack » Continue Reading.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Philosophy: Protest Poems and Adirondack Light

The first thing I noticed was how the light fidgeting on the water moved, like jazz. Usually, autumn Adirondack mornings have more of a classical come-on, in a way that brings Walt Whitman to mind with his longing recollections of halcyon seasons enough to conjure this jigsaw of ochre and red around the pond and up the mountains; this deep and satisfying breeze whispering shhhhhh.

Yet, this morning something about the landscape looked like Carl Sandburg’s poems feel when read aloud. Sandburg, with his 1916 Chicago cadence was on the wind making oozing trombones of those same trees, going husha-husha-hush. A » Continue Reading.



Saturday, September 17, 2011

Join the Land Use and Ethics Conversation

On its best day, philosophy succeeds in sending “the conversation off in new directions.” With a free exchange of ideas and a commitment to inquiry, philosophy as both catalyst and conveyor ought to “engender new normal discourses, new sciences, new philosophical research and thus new objective truths.”

In this spirit the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute invites submissions for its Symposium of Interdisciplinary Scholarship in Land Use and Ethics, to be held at the Adirondack Interpretive Center on Huntington Wildlife Forest in Newcomb. I envision this project as an opportunity to open up the dialog around » Continue Reading.



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Philosophy: Teaching Across Disciplines

Here is a recent exchange between me and a colleague:

Colleague: So, what do you do?

Me: I’m a philosopher, much of my work involves teaching.

Colleague: (Amused) like what, the philosophy of green?

Here’s another:

Colleague: So you’re here to do philosophy with the students.

Me: Yes, environmental philosophy.

Colleague: I think that’s great, because students come to me for content and they come to you for this kind of (gesturing as if wafting an unwelcome scent) experience.

Both of these exchanges, and rest assured I have enough of these for a night at the Improv, were with colleagues in » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Philosophy: Should Adk Professionals SpeakTheir Mind?

A few months back one of my colleagues here at the Almanack wrote a fine post that raised the question of whether or not it is feasible for New York State to acquire Follensby Pond and surrounding lands.

I had great fun weighing-in on an element of philosophical gamesmanship that Phil Brown touched on related to Aristotle’s notion of begging the question. A short while later, I was describing what I thought had been my clever contribution to a friend who asked “yes, but what was your position?” Well I never! No really, I never even considered entering the conversation » Continue Reading.



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