As an addendum to the discussion on “Natural” vs. “Artificial”, I was reminded of this quote that says what I was trying to get at:
It’s dangerous to think of ourselves as loathsome creatures or as perversions in the natural world. We need to see ourselves as having a rightful place. We take pictures of all kinds of natural scenes and often we try to avoid having a human being in them…In our society, we force ourselves into a greater and greater distance from the natural world by creating parks and wilderness areas where our only role is to go in and look…We lavish tremendous concern and care on scenery but we ignore the ravaging of environments from which our lives are drawn.” –Richard Nelson, as meta-quoted in The Sacred Earth, edited by Jason Gardner
This reminds me of Richard Louv’s Nature Deficit Disorder, the byproduct of children no longer having access to wild, open areas to simply explore in and play, but instead being increasingly hemmed in and protected.
In order to connect, we have to allow ourselves to be connected.
Yes. Cities are natural environments, and to pretend that they aren’t is to create a situation in which we think that we can do things to our cities that won’t have any effect on the rest of the world. Why worry about the immense amounts of sulfur dioxide we’re pouring into the air over our cities, since they aren’t part of the natural environment, right? Who cares about dumping mercury into the sewers, since they’re already artificial in the first place? We can do whatever we want to our artificial environments, because there is a disconnection between them and the natural ones.
Except, of course, for the other thing.
Yup. Cities are still bioregions, even if they’re greatly altered by our actions.
Yes…And this continued thing amongst many who say they’re animists, to the effect that there isn’t any energy or soul/spirit or anything of that sort in cities and “artificial” things, and that one has to go to a park or a tree or the grass in the sidewalk cracks. All those things are great, but there’s an ecosystem in the walls of many houses, not to mention in the main part of the house itself! And all of these things that are in cities, like wooden furniture, plastic things–all those came from (at some point) living hydrocarbons…!?!
Heck with that–the city is as alive as any place else!
Have you read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn? A good portion of that book is about the idea that the idea of humanity being fallen from nature is wrong and dangerous. That the situation isn’t human vs the rest of nature, but instead the problem is one branch of humanity that took over and spread dangerous memes.
Yup, you sent me a copy way back when 🙂
To admit that we are not separate from nature entails giving up the supposition that we are somehow “better than” or “above” it. I imagine giving up that superiority is terrifying for some people’s egos.
You raise a good point, I think. People are afraid, I think, to take down their boundaries that much and allow themselves to feel being a part of a bigger thing than they are as individuals.