Saturday, April 18, 2015

When 'nature' symbolizes life itself and human existence

"Nature is the common, universal language, understood by all," said Kathleen Raine.

Rene Dubos:

Sophisticated and civilized as we may be, we have retained from our distant ancestors the ability to derive profound satisfactions from the small happenings of daily life – when we eat, drink, and love; sing, dance, and laugh; dream, tell stories, or illustrate them in pictures, participate in events where we can be at the same time author, actor, and spectator. ... I also long for these simple but fundamental satisfactions which reflect what was best in the biological and social past of humankind.

* * *

The present world-wide effort to save the quality of the environment transcends the problems posed by pollution and by the depletion of natural resources. It constitutes rather the beginning of a crusade to recapture certain sensory and emotional values, the need for which is universal and immutable because it is inscribed in the genetic code of the human species.

The writer Edward Abbey – wrote Wendell Berry about him – "understands that to defend and conserve oneself as a human being in the fullest, truest sense, one must defend and conserve many others and much else."

John McPhee: "The conservation movement is a mystical and religious force, and possibly the reaction to dams is so violent because rivers are the ultimate metaphors of existence, and dams destroy rivers."

Petrus Severinus said: "Go, my sons, burn your books and buy yourselves stout shoes, climb the mountains, search the valleys, the deserts, the sea shores, and the deep recesses of the earth...Observe and experiment without ceasing, for in this way and no other will you arrive at a knowledge of the true nature of things."

Sources

Rene Dubos, Beast Or Angel?: Choices That Make Us Human, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974. pp 7, 149

Wendell Berry, introducing a collection of Edward Abbey's writings, The Serpents of Paradise, ed. John Macrae. New York: Henry Holt and Co., Inc., 1995. p xi.

John McPhee, Encounters with the Archdruid. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1971, 1992, p 159.

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