Mark Helprin describes how the concept of America was shaped in part by its land.
For without understanding nature’s metaphors of infinity, man looms far larger in his own eyes than he would in their insistent presence, and, as history shows, comes to believe not only that he is the measure of all things but the maker and judge of life, death, and everything in between. . . .
Man reacts in the presence of limitlessness. He is buoyed immensely on tides of freedom.