Peter Matthiessen (1927 - 2014) was an America novelist, naturalist, nature writer, and CIA agent.
"The wilderness itself is full of beauty and also a great mystery and a great silence, a very healing silence. I find it exhilarating, and sometimes it pushes me to the edge of depression. But most of us don't know what to do with it, so we build roads and airstrips into it," said Peter Matthiessen, whose life-long attraction to wilderness has led him on expeditions to South America, Africa, New Guinea, Nepal, and the Sudan, and has brought him into contact with peoples whose way of life precariously awaits the encroachment of modern life, and the threat of annihilation.
Matthiessen sees the frontier as the place where the American way was forged, and feels that the weaknesses and qualities of the frontier character operate long after the wilderness has been cleared. Matthiessen was keen to talk of the novel he is currently writing on this theme. "I'm interested in the violence of the American frontier and how the frontier developed. I hope the novel is a kind of reflection of ...the frontier mind, how it works, where it goes wrong and why this country goes so easily into violence. For we have a lot of violence."
Melinda Camber Porter speaks with Peter Matthiessen on Men's Lives, the spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, and Native Americans [PDF]