15 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2020
    1. “These are (1) a providential vision, in which the natural world has a purpose, to serve the human needs richly, but only if people do their part by filling it up with labor and development; (2) a Romantic vision, in which a key part of the world’s value is aesthetic and spiritual, found in the inspiration of mountain peaks, sheer canyon walls, and deep forests; (3) a utilitarian picture, in which nature is a storehouse of resources requiring expert management, especially by scientists and public officials; and (4) an ecological view of the world as being formed of complex and interpenetrating systems, in which both sustenance and poison may travel through air, water, and soil, and in and out of flesh, as each thing becomes something else.”


      In an interview with Landscape Architecture Magazine, Jedidiah Purdy discusses two statements in the preface of his book, This Land is Our Land. The first: "Land is perennially the thing we share that holds us apart." Second: "We have made a world that overmasters us." He explains in the interview, "Who people are on the land and how they can use it, what claims they have to it- is, in our history- the original way that people get sorted into different social fates. Do you own? Do you take the profit? Do you labor? Are you tied to the land?...That division is a way of sorting out and ranking interdependence. Together and apart are inseparable there"(LA MAG, July 2020). "It is the great achievement of human beings to build a world in which we have all these powers that we don't naturally have- we're so helpless- and yet that built world tells us how to live in it in a way that actually radically constrains and gives a very damaging form to our inhabiting the kind of larger living world" (LA MAG, July 2020). In this interview Purdy refers to the land as "...what determines circumstance of individuals' socioeconomic conditions; forming and modifying class, labor, economics, and value of the human race. In After Nature, Purdy describes human beings as what determines the formation of landscape according to what is valued and what is ignored. The two relationships described embody the definition of the Anthropocene era, which, according to Purdy in After Nature, is to emphasize what we think is most important in that relationship (between humans and nature)... Because we shape everything, from the upper atmosphere to the deep seas, there is no more nature that stands apart from human beings" (Purdy, 2015).

      RELATE: "A brief sampling might note the ill-fated hydrological reengineering of Tenochtitlan, the replacement of community forests by scientifically managed imperial woodlots, the substitution of Cartesian-grid, monocrop planting for native polycultures adapted to local soils and rains, the violent suppression of women's practical healing knowledge by an all-male elite, the new enclosures of landscapes and forests by today's agro-efficiency engineers and would-be "global" conservation organizations acting in the name of nature and the best interests of "humanity" (McAfee, 2016). In the era of the Anthropocene, both scarcity and abundance are caricatured into megaprivelege and megapoverty more than ever before. The impact of land and the reciprocated impact on the land is more obvious and more likely to be either addressed or ignored by the multiplicity of divisions within the human race, globally. Even if the changing landscape is ignored, the dependence human beings have on the land for natural resources, for space, and for inspiration is only increasing. The land, in response, relies on the honorable actions of human beings. The Anthropocene era defines the transition from reciprocity in relationship to toxic codependence.

      McAfee, Kathleen. “The Politics of Nature in the Anthropocene” In: “Whose Anthropocene? Revisiting Dipesh Chakrabarty’s ‘Four Theses,’” edited by Robert Emmett and Thomas Lekan, RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society 2016, no. 2, 65–72.

    1. I have never been able to believe that natural selection and our other brave and enormous generalities are the whole answer to the diversities and transformations of plant and animal life. There is something more. These endless experiments, this incredible creative pageant, is not wholly the invention of environment and the caprice of atoms


      "To assert the unnaturalness of so natural a place will no doubt seem absurd or even perverse to many readers, so let me hasten to add that the nonhuman world we encounter in wilderness is far from being merely our own invention. I celebrate with others who love wilderness the beauty and power of the things it contains. Each of us who has spent time there can conjure images and sensations that seem all the more hauntingly real for having engraved themselves so indelibly on our memories. Such memories may be uniquely our own, but they are also familiar enough be to be instantly recognizable to others. Remember this? The torrents of mist shoot out from the base of a great waterfall in the depths of a Sierra canyon, the tiny droplets cooling your face as you listen to the roar of the water and gaze up toward the sky through a rainbow that hovers just out of reach. Remember this too: looking out across a desert canyon in the evening air, the only sound a lone raven calling in the distance, the rock walls dropping away into a chasm so deep that its bottom all but vanishes as you squint into the amber light of the setting sun. And this: the moment beside the trail as you sit on a sandstone ledge, your boots damp with the morning dew while you take in the rich smell of the pines, and the small red fox—or maybe for you it was a raccoon or a coyote or a deer—that suddenly ambles across your path, stopping for a long moment to gaze in your direction with cautious indifference before continuing on its way. Remember the feelings of such moments, and you will know as well as I do that you were in the presence of something irreducibly nonhuman, something profoundly Other than yourself. Wilderness is made of that too" (Cronon, 1995). Melanie Simo’s early collection of essays intends to analyze the ideologies of American landscape ethic. She does not write a narrative of her own, but uses authorship of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century organized geographically to describe the spirit of the natural world, nonscientific or understandable. Simo’s work was greatly inspired by William Cronon as he descirbes the modern-day wild as the convergence of romanticism and post-frontier ideology. Cronon states that in order to best protect the wilderness it had to have been portrayed by culture as sacred and sublime by the Romantics.

      Cronon, William. Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, Trouble with Wilderness. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1995.


      And now it is time to lay out the actual art of Interpreting Nature. Though we believe that what we teach here is what is truest and most useful, still we do not say that it is absolutely essential (as if nothing could be done without it) or even totally complete. For it is our opinion that men could hit upon our form of interpretation simply by their own native force of intelligence, without any other art, if they had available a good history of nature and experience, and worked carefully on it, and were able to give themselves two commands: one, to lay aside received opinions and notions; the other, to restrain their minds for the time being from the most general principles and the next most general. For interpretation is the true and natural work of the mind once the obstacles are removed; but still everything will certainly be more in readiness because of our instructions, and much more secure. Yet we are not claiming that nothing could be added to them. On the contrary, we who look at the mind not only in its own native ability, but also in its union with things, must take the position that the art of discovery may improve with discoveries" (Bacon, 101). The selected passage from "Forest and Garden" was cut from Beston's original text either on Beston's own accord or by his editor in avoidance of offending scientists. Beston's idea of something more than scientific experimentation in the natural world contrasts greatly with the Baconian idea that security in the natural world can come through observation and experimentation. Beston argues that there is an ethereal element to creation that cannot be explained or even described. The importance in "the spirit of the place" described by Simo is undermined in scientific pursuit and in the proud stance that the qualities of Nature have to be understood even at all. Simo's compilation of authors illustrates the romanticism of the Natural mystique.

      Francis Bacon, VIS, and Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon: The New Organon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    1. but remove the art of printing, bring fresh hordes of barbarians to sweep over the civilized world, let them busy themselves with the task of destruction, and say then what traces of our works would remain on the face of the earth as monuments of our period.

      CONTEXTUALIZE: "These examples of Cooper's 1893 essay drawing on Rural Hours help us make meaning of her 1850 volume as a record of natural history and environmental change. Preservation was clearly a moral imperative for Cooper, not simply for utilitarian or even for eco-centric reasons, but reasons pertaining to America's cultural memory. As Margaret Welch has recently demonstrated, American natural history seems to have adapted in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to the rapidly changing American landscape by making lamentations for disappearing species a {43} staple of the genre; and we can see Cooper's lament for the trees as evidence of this shift in natural history. She turns her attention in Rural Hours repeatedly to disappearing life forms: in addition to lamenting trees, she writes about animal species that were locally extinct, about plant and animal species that were dwindling in her region, and about weeds and other indigenous plants that were giving way to nonnative species. Through her discussions of these subjects, she calls attention to the ways in which the landscape is being re-written and revised by European life forms. Cooper clearly felt the need to document what she seems to have realized was a quickly vanishing American landscape, and her documentation serves not as a means of sanctioning change or progress, but as a means of providing Americans ignorant of their environments -- as well as future Americans -- a record of their material world." Susan Fenimore Cooper focuses on process, interconnectedness, and change brought by humans to the natural world (addressing Second Nature, following First Nature (wild or pristine landscape untouched by humans).

      James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art, Papers from the 1999 Cooper Seminar (No. 12), The State University of New York College at Oneonta. Oneonta, New York. Hugh C. MacDougall, editor. (pp. 41-45)

      RELATE: Susan F. Cooper, in her ideology about the American pastoral landscape, believes that there is a place for progress/infrastructure/man and the preservation of land and history of a place. Cooper's overlap of sentimental fiction and environmentalism is similar to the writings of Wendell Berry- American novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. Both writers describe the tension between sentimental pastoral arcadia and rural agrarian life, and both desire to leave the industry behind and find balance with civilization and the natural world. For Berry, his perspective on the pastoral landscape is agrarian simplicity. For Cooper, pastoral America always includes man's effort, whether it be a road, a small chapel, or a homestead. Both authors idealize "the simple life." Berry is quoted saying in "Getting Along With Nature" in his book, Home Economics (1987), "What I am aiming at- because much evidence seems to point this way- is the probability that nature and human culture, wildness, and domesticity, are not opposed but are interdependent. An authentic experience of either will reveal the need of one for the other." Pastoral nature (in its ideals and land availability) depends on urban development within the United States and redefined suburban America. With little land availability and the common desire for quiet and community among some amount of nature, the suburbs are an easy way to attain common ground between pastoral landscape and American progress. Berry, as an agrarian activist, would likely despise the idea of suburbia, and Cooper would likely advocate for it as the idea of the American suburban neighborhood accomplishes all of her moral ideas about man and nature. Cooper's work was also rival to Thoreau's who focused heavily on the natural world in relationship to cultivation.

      Anderson, K. M., & Austin Water Center For Environmental Research. (n.d.). Pastoral Nature: Agrarianism and Rural America [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Water/CER/Pastoral_nature_rural_america_feb_2018.pdf

    1. The intensity of this process generated critical environmental degradation, in which the contrast between destructive dynamics and the natural environment of the tropics- fragile, complex, and unfamiliar to European eyes- was starkly clear.

      CONTEXTUALIZE: Prof. Dr. José Augusto Pádua compares historical patterns of deforestation and conservation of Brazil's Atlantic Forest to the Amazon Forest in his study at the Rachel Carson Center. He writes, "When the Europeans first arrived in what is now Brazilian territory in the sixteenth century, they found two major tropical forest complexes: the Atlantic Forest, originally measuring some 1,300,000 square kilometers, and the Amazon Forest, which at that time encompassed some 4,000,000 square kilometers. The different fates of these two forest complexes reveal a lot about the geography of Brazilian environmental history. Colonial and post-colonial economic activities were concentrated along the seaboard from the Northeast to the South of Brazil, the Atlantic Forest domain. Even today, approximately 70 percent of the Brazilian population remains concentrated in this area. In the twentieth century, with the strong growth of Brazilian population and economy—including activities like coffee plantations, timber production, the building of railways, urban construction, iron smelting and pulp production—a massive deforestation happened in the Atlantic Forest. The historical result is that only 13.3 percent of the original forest cover still exists. The Amazon forest was left in a different situation until quite recently. Until some 40 years ago, only 1 percent of the original forest had been destroyed. A main reason for such a phenomenon is an environmental one. The difficulties of accessing the Amazon region in the pre-industrial world, especially because of the size of its rivers, the abundance of wetlands in the areas of easier access, and the occurrence of diseases hampered more intense settlement of its lands. The massive economic settlement and destruction of the Amazon forest, thus, is a very recent phenomenon. From 1970 to the present time the remaining forest cover in the Brazilian Amazon has been reduced from around 99 percent to about 80 percent, which means the destruction of more than 700,000 square kilometers of tropical woods" (Padua, 2015).

      Padua, J. A. "Comparing the Historical Patterns of Deforestation and Conservation in the Brazilian Atlantic and Amazon Forests from 1930–2012." Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society - LMU Munich. Last modified 2015. https://www.carsoncenter.uni-muenchen.de/download/staff_and_fellows/projects/project_padua.pdf.

      The Amazon and the Atlantic forests are both parts of the land-occupation and territory building's lasting European colonization effects. He states that old forests are not separate from the modern-day environmental movement (Brazil Congress established protection over the remains of the Atlantic Forest in 2006) and the environmental movement in the 1970's and 80's (around the time of the Amazon's most intense amount of deforestation). Present-day advocacy for preservation, conservation, and opposition to deforestation on a global scale actually dates back to thoughts outside of the Eurocentric account of history. This particular selection is written about Brazilian political environmentalist intellectuals about the colonial economy (infrastructural aims altering landscape).

    2. Grove argues, based on a wealth of primary documents, the at the most intense and comprehensive perceptions of environmental degradation, specially since the 18th century, occurred in the European colonies located in the tropics.

      RELATE: In "The Colonizers Model of the World", J.M. Blaut writes, "But most diffusionists claim that only certain select communities are inventive." And later, "In fact, diffusionism was the most fully developed scientific (or pseudoscientific) rationale for the idea of Inside and Outside." Blaut dissects the Inside and the Outside community titles established by the Eurocentric perspective as the foundation for historical narratives that typically refer to a more civilized society and a more savage society; one, inventive, creative, and the other, dependent on the society building of the more civilized "Inside". Padua's work in environmental history illustrates a historical account of the inventiveness and thought from the "Outside"/savage civilization that challenges Eurocentric belief with the idea that Latin American civilization has been affected by European colonization and has responded with intellect, opposition, and plan of action. Blaut writes, "Diffusionism is grounded, as we saw, in two axioms: 1) Most human communities are uninventive. 2) A few human communities (or places, or cultures) are inventive and thus remain the permanent centers of culture change, of progress" (Blaut 14). Padua's account of Brazilian environmentalism disproves Eurocentric diffusionist's thought that Non-Europe does not change; non-Europe is "ahistorical." Considering the Brazilian thinkers' experiences in the 18th century, the intellect of "The Outside" actually set a foundation in approaching environmental decline as a more global issue (now including the Inside communities). Blaut, J. M. The Colonizer's Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History. New York/London: Guilford Press, 1993.

  2. Oct 2020
    1. In all things, the beginning and end are the most engaging.

      CONTEXTUALIZE: "Scholar Norinaga whose main goal was to point to and assert 'Japanese-ness' would not hesitate to agree that mono no aware is deeply connected to Japanese culture and thought. Mono no aware, he believes, constitutes a unique characteristic of the Japanese race, and it has deeply moved and shaped Japanese culture throughout the ages. The Man'yoshu, literally meaning 'the collection of ten thousand leaves,' is an eighth-century classic anthology of Japanese poetry, often cited as the oldest source where 'aware' is captured through the 'plaintive calling of birds and animals.' Insects, such as cicadas, known as the semi in Japanese, are considered both plaintively and seasonally symbolic in Japan for two main reasons. First, the different sounds or callings of cicadas announce the beginning and end of the hot, humid summer. Second, the cicadas' very life-cycle is illustrative of the evanescence and wistfulness that mono no aware is said to evoke. The short lifespan of cicadas living long enough for the female of their kind to sing their mating songs to attract their other half to complete the fertilization process can be seen as a metaphor of this complex feeling of transience." Chambers, G.. "The 'Mono no Aware' in Hanami: Re-reading its Festive, Aesthetic, and Contemporary Value." (2013). The passing of time can either cripple human life, henceforth the appreciation of plants, animals, and people in death. It can free the human heart to really revel in each living thing as we become aware of its living into its death. Because humans exist without knowledge of when the end will be, we can most easily engage with beings' conception or demise. Often, we do not even fully engage the beginning of things unless we have been informed that "it is the beginning," or one can literally see its birth. It takes effort to engage with each thing passing, especially in plant life, assuming it will return the following year. One does not consider that the flower born and dying this year will not return the following year. Instead, another flower on the same shrub or tree will return beside the prior's bud scar—Association of gratitude and spirituality partner with the observation and noticing of lifespan. To notice is to be grateful. To be grateful is to engage with. Which comes first, I do not know.

      RELATE: The concept of 'mono no aware' in its entirety is defined as "the feeling or sentiment that an object possesses, signifying the deep feeling or pathos of things, the powerful emotions that objects can evoke or instill in us. It is often associated with a poignant feeling of transience, a beautiful sadness in the passing of lives and objects." "Articles from The School of Life." Articles from The School of Life. Last modified July 4, 2018. https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/mono-no-aware/. Though the term 'objects' does not adequately describe living creatures or plants (and does not capture the ephemerality of the 'object' referred to as a definition), the definition given creates more of a parallel between the concept and Robert Irwin's work with light and scene-setting. Irwin's primary goal in much of his work was to evoke memory, emotion, or perspectival change. His work focused on bringing attention to passing (potentially seasonal due to natural light coming in at different directions at different times of the year) time, the ephemerality of a place, and the decision to engage. Irwin's work consists of accentuation or suppression of his artwork's context so that attention is drawn to what he has chosen to emphasize. If one were to suppress the surroundings of a changing, dying plant, or animal specimen, it would become all the more engaging. An intimate portrait of a single object definitely influences the depth of emotion in the human experiencing the natural world. It is hard to engage the frailty of time so intimately when there are many distractions in the surrounding landscape and in our societal context than if passing time were framed like Irwin's work. Weschler, Lawrence, and Robert Irwin. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin. Oakland: University of California Press, 1982.

    1. Those familiar with the hydrological or water cycle, which depicts the extended presence of water transitioning through states solid, liquid, and vapor, will understand this time to be a moment among many in the endless circulation of water.


      Water is seen as concrete in its linear form of the river. Across cultures, the form of a river is seen as certain and objective in depicting and narrative. The line that separates land from water is what is most often referred to, though the hydrological cycle consists of water's change in form, the transgression of time and realities. The movement of water is depicted as ephemeral and unattainable in the forms that do not sit within the floodplain's boundaries. "Through historical references and a contemporary case study, (Mathur and Cunha wrote), Sundarbans: A Space of Imagination. This journal piece addresses the "chasm between the incommensurable natures of earth and ocean." Tracing the term "ocean" back to the ancients, Mathur and da Cunha discover Oceanus, "the watery element that escapes the disciplines of geometry." A lyrical description of all rivers and seas' source is replaced by a map, an arrangement of points and lines. Using the Sundarbans at the mouth of the Ganges as an example, with its "field-like condition being far too complex to mark and hold with points and lines of geometry," the authors create a new design approach that considers "a temporal and material appreciation of ocean," including all the "states and cycles of hydrology." Societal civilization desires to quantify and direct time, resources, and morals within natural cycles, like the flow of a river and the ephemerality of the hydrological cycle out of human control. The technology involved in water control/ allocation engages the human mind and imagination about water in a "civilized" way, forbidding further engagement in the messy, powerful landscape that water can be.

      Cunha, D. (2019). Intro. The invention of rivers: Alexander's eye and Ganga's descent (pp. 39). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.


      Sarah Allan, in her book ''The Way of Water and Sprouts of Virtue,'' writes specifically about the language that water is depicted by and the weight it holds as a parallel to human psychology and natural order. ""Water, which provides life, gurgles up unbidden from the earth and moves of its own accord, becomes perfectly level and clears itself of sediment when still, takes the shape of any container, penetrates the tiniest opening, yields to pressure but wears down the hardest stone, becomes hard as ice and disperses as steam, was the model for philosophical ideas about the nature of the cosmos… Water, with its multiplicity of forms and extraordinary capacity for generating imagery, provided the primary model for conceptualizing general cosmic priniciples, principles to the behavior of people, as well as to the forces of nature"" (Allan, p.4). The importance of depiction ad metaphoric structures is the determination of man's relationship to what one considers "natural" and how man engages with it, relates to it, and advocates for it.

      Allan, Sarah. The Way of Water and Sprouts of Virtue. Albany: SUNY Press, 1997.

    1. The mechanistic view of nature provided the scientist with a world reassuringly predictable because it was devised by a rational mind and made to obey a strict set of laws; it gave the engineer confidence that his own contrivances were part of the divine plan and hence acceptable expressions of piety” (Worster, 28-29).

      CONTEXTUALIZE: “Human dominion over nature, an integral element of the Baconian program, was to be achieved through the experimental “disclo­sure of nature’s secrets.” Seventeenth-century scientists, reinforcing aggressive attitudes toward nature, spoke out in favor of “master­ing” and “managing” the earth. Descartes wrote in his Discourse on Method (1636) that through knowing the crafts of the artisans and the forces of bodies we could “render ourselves the masters and possessors of nature.”” Joseph Glanvill, the English philosopher who defended the Baconian program in his Plus Ultra of 1668 as­serted that the objective of natural philosophy was to “enlarge knowledge by observation and experiment … so that nature being known, it may be mastered, managed, and used in the services of humane life..." (Merchant, 172-173).

      Merchant, C. (1980). Dominion Over Nature. In The Death of Nature(pp. 172-173). Place of publication not identified: Wildwood House.

      In this passage, Carolyn Merchant quotes Francis Bacon's idea of a paradise created and managed by people, in order to provide for people and recover from experiencing nature's wilderness prior to the utopia's creation. Merchant references Bacon's scientific approach to a natural world needing to be tamed. Merchant also references Descartes' mechanistic view of nature- "...that animals are no more than machines, totally incapable of feeling pain of pleasure" (Worster, 40). David Worster, in the selected passage, references Francis Bacon's scientific ideology as extraction from Christian ideology. Bacon claimed that the world was meant for the Human Empire and objectified natural elements for his own experimentation. Worster writes that at the fall of spirituality in nature/paganism permitted scientific techniques and agricultural practice to take place. These mechanized ways of have taken advantage of a narrative created by men for men since the Christian faith was established. Nature's Economy in its entirety, develops perspectives on areas of thought within Anglo/American Christian or economic narrative. Merchant, in her works, emphasizes the extraction from the earth once seen by Arcadian and pagan religions as Mother Earth, now to be taken as man's own. She references women parallel to the earth, like mineral extraction from the earth's surface, man equates a woman's body to an extractive process. The Christian narrative makes both woman and earth pastoral, submissive, and useful. When it is used as justification for the existence of God or the success of theocracy. Worcestor describes the Christian view of pastoralism as finding the things man can capitalize on; which is another form of colonialism.

      RELATE: "Yet there is a seam of thought which has always de-animated nature and reduced the earth to a mere playground for the worst fantasies of human greed. Why is this? Such blind and destructive perception is often secretly driven by guilt in human beings. We even communicate guilt to our dogs" (O'Donohue, 20).

      John O'Donohue writes of the beauty in human discovery and includes in a passage prior to this that discovery transfigures some of the foresakenness of the world. This excitable perspective of discovery is similar to Linneaus's desire to reconcile the love of nature and the pursuit of human ambitions. Linnaeus differs from O'Donohue in their strategies of approaching nature. Linnaeus approaches nature with an underlying desire to find the Divine Creator within it, whereas O'Donohue lets nature guide human discovery. O'Donohue differs from the thinkers and economists mentioned by Worcester as a Celtic poet and pagan thinker. He approaches nature for neither profit or stability in belief system.

      O'Donohue, John. Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.

    1. Vicariously Through Impressio


      In addition to this passage from The Geography of Plants, Humboldt, in his book, Cosmos, references impressionist art, i.e., European landscape painting, poetry, and plant cultivation. He writes, "I regard it as one of the fairest fruits of general European civilization that it is now almost everywhere possible for men to obtain-by the cultivation of exotic plants, by the charm of landscape painting, and by the power of the inspiration of language,- some part, at least, of that enjoyment of nature, which, when pursued by long and dangerous journeys through the interior of continents, is afforded by her immediate contemplation" (Humboldt, 100).

      Humboldt, Alexander V. Cosmos, 7th ed. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1849.

      Both passages embody centralized globalization. Humboldt writes of cultural globalization specifically by describing exploration and translation of experience to an art form for the common man to experience. What is written of less is the concurrent economic and political globalization occurring as explorers (botanists included) extract people, plants, and animals from places of origin either literally or symbolically (in art) and colonizing or dominating the plant species Humboldt so lovingly mentions. Praise of impression of natural ephemeral qualities is especially interesting to read about in the current time of a pandemic when our only access to lands unbeknownst to us is through the image- rather written or seen, we are quite literally the man isolated in this passage.

      Jane Hutton refers to Humboldt's exploitation of the guano for the intention of scientific analysis in France in the early 1800s- like we have spoken of Francis Bacon's dissection/ research approach to the ecological phenomenon, Humboldt's "analysis" turning into globalized trade is another example of the evolution of human detachment and compartmentalization of the earth.

      Hutton, Jane. Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements. London: Routledge, 2019.


      E. O. Wilson was quoted in an interview with PBS, saying, "Children who learn about nature solely from television and computers are not developing fully', Wilson argues. 'They need to experience wildlife firsthand, like this child holding a snail." Wilson focuses on children's upbringing in the time of technology, suburbia, and "soccer moms." He compares children absorbed in technology to cattle in a feedlot. However, both species are content in their spaces; they are not fully the species that they have the potential to be. They are not in their most natural environment. He claims that this comparison is quite extreme. Wilson claims that children are perfectly content experiencing African wildlife or even dinosaurs from a computer screen where they cannot fully develop the sense of discovery and physiological euphoria experienced in the wild on their own. I see this thought translating not only to children but to all people, post-Globalization. One can go to an art museum or botanical garden and experience what they might imagine the actual wilderness may feel. We live now, more than ever, in an imaginative world that debilitates us from actually experiencing the earth.

      "A Conversation With E.O. Wilson." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Last modified April 1, 2008. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/conversation-eo-wilson/.

  3. Sep 2020
    1. "Carolyn Merchant explains that the 'rise of capitalism eroded the subsistence based farm and city workshop in which production was oriented toward use values and men and women were economic partners. The result was a capitalist economy dominated by men and a domestic sphere in which women's labor in the home was unpaid and subordinate to men's labor in the marketplace.' ("Feminist",103). Socialist ecofeminists have pointed out that under capitalist patriarchy, the earth, like women's labour, is exploited for the purpose of economic growth (103). Capitalist patriarchy allows men to dismiss the ideas of women. Their work is unpaid therefore it is inferior" (VanSickle, 63). Without romanticizing the treatment of women pre-industrialization, it is noted that there is significant shift in gender role's relationship to agrarian work and domestic work as society increases in production of machinery, urbanization, and capitalist society. I find that not only the nature of women but the bodies of women are plowed and cultivated into submission, giving birth and producing often not of their own will but of man's. I find this parallel of pastoral landscape to subordination of women so truthful as women have deep wilderness within themselves as longing; a desire for freedom and a literal connection to the earth that they walk on. The wilderness becomes pastoral landscape as the understory is eliminated, as the earth is burned and tilled, and as man manipulates the soil, fertilizing it and making it produce something he (man) desires, not necessarily what the earth would have naturally grown. Man takes on perspective (in order to cope with destruction caused by humankind) that they are doing good, producing something more desirable (a submissive woman giving birth to a child), when in reality, the earth is being conquered, raped, and overused. Efficiency and mechanization only propels and strengthens this concept, making man more dominant, suppressing the earth, and isolating women from their freedom outdoors as they are domestic, within the home, caring for the product of fertilization and cultivation that was not their own choice, but was of man's.

      VanSickle, V. L. (2007). Daughters of the land : an ecofeminist analysis of the relationships between female adolescent protagonists and landscape in three verse novels for children (Master's thesis). Retrieved from https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0100660


      "And then, within the vast workings of Western culture, this opposition of passivity and activity, of natural women and unnatural men, comes to appear as natural, the proper of the proper: the “order of nature,” as Jean-Jacques Rousseau called it. Rousseau believed that nature’s orders made woman innately “docile” and hence proscribed her education alongside men ([1762]1979, 358, 370). As Mary Wollstonecraft noted in A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Rousseau would have girls and women raised “not as part of the human species” but as “gentle, domestic brutes” ([1792] 1989, 73,89). The woman‐dog is tamed, restrained, made to sit still and keep quiet at the periphery of human society."

      Beeston, Alix. “The Watch‐Bitch Now: Reassessing the Natural Woman in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society 45, no. 3 (Spring 2020): 679. doi:10.1086/706472.

      This literary critique emphasizes the subjugated persona of women and animals synonymous to the pastoral landscape- that it is to be trodden on and manipulated by men. Women are to sit idly by. This critique uses sirens as an example- the form of woman and animal in one has no voice but a song that is a cry before she retreats back into the ocean. Women as animals are seen as fleeing. A woman in literature and art is portrayed as fragile with only the ability to either sit by and let man use and take advantage of her, or to flee. Ecofeminist authors since the 70's have used female madness as a protest against the domestication and passivity made of women, especially women in nature. Witches and herbalists, wild women of the forest become the protagonist in these authors' works, as they portray woman as wilderness- as active, loud, rebellious. Animal-like behavior in these characters is less like a docile domestic dog and more like a dangerous force to be reckoned with. In either portrayal, domestic or wild, if women are to be compared to animal species they are to be made extinct. In the Merchant piece, she cites the mineral extraction process that has been paralleled with the sexual intercourse of penetrating the woman’s vagina. As women are compared to the earth, the manipulation of the earth by mankind is also cited as a comparison to the cultivation and domestication that women receive as they are being ‘mastered’ by their male counterparts. The earth’s depletion of its natural abundance and fertility is similar to the quoted animal references. When this comparison is made it is implied that extinction of animal, natural resources, and the abundance of the earth also implies the mastering and elimination of women.

    1. we attempt to force a decidedly non-Western space to fit into categories that were not developed to describe it.

      CONTEXT: In 'The Garden As Paradise', when describing origins of the idea of a paradise garden in reference to Islamic gardens, it is stated, "One of the unfortunate consequences of the disciplinary separation of Islamic studies from studies of Jewish and Christian culture (and the methodological division of geography and knowledge into the invented categories of East and West) is that when scholars ask why certain forms and concepts arose in a given cultural context, they tend to look for the answers internally" (Ruggles, 89). This expression of an 'internal' i.e. 'Western' process of likening an alien concept to something of our own preexisting notions of things, could be called one form of colonization. The Meso-American gardens written about in the Aviles piece were cultivated for many uses, such as spiritual worship and cultivation of plants for botanical study or medicinal use. To equate such a robust space with many purposes to a Western idea of space used for purposes specific to the Western world, is similar to using a word in one language to describe an entire philosophy/idea/way of life from a different culture.

      Ruggles, D. F. Islamic Gardens and Landscapes. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.

      RELATE: In an article written on AIGA.org focusing on design and politics called 'What Does it Mean to Decolonize Design' the word for decolonization is defined as Western ideology embedded into society. Later in the article a professor in the research group Decolonizing Design mentions that decoloniality is breaking through the familiar. Categorization, language, and standards set according to European/US capitalist regime. Botanical gardens in the Western world may have initially existed for the sake of research and education. Modern day botanical gardens, however, might tend to focus on event, admission, retail, and restaurant. Though this description is similar to the term "pleasure garden" the paradise (intended to be based on natural space and process in the Aztec Empire) is by Western definition, caused by human behavior and concern for the well-being of the human race. Though this topic is widely discussed present-day, the issue of colonial categorization is present in throughout history. The Western tendency of retrofitting unfamiliar concept must be developed in order to enable garden-making to encompass more than our idea of a botanical garden.

      Khandwala, Anoushka. "Eye on Design; What Does It Mean to Decolonize Design?" AIGA.org. Last modified June 3, 2019. https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/what-does-it-mean-to-decolonize-design/.

      Sarah Allan focuses on the translation of idea between cultures in ‘Way of Water and Sprouts of Virtue’. Her understanding is that the human reactions and observations of the natural world may have a core belief that overlap, but our expression and configuration may be motivated by the state of culture at the time of expression, i.e. social class, geographic circumstances, resources available, and religion/spirituality. These factors are play significant roles in how a culture curates a language and expression about the natural world.

      Allan, Sarah. The Way of Water and Sprouts of Virtue. p. 23-24 Albany: SUNY Press, 1997.

    1. Thus, Confucius meditated upon water; and the Confucian Xunzi later attempted to systematize the relationship between water’s various forms and people’s moral qualities. This assumption of a correspondence between the principles which inform both water and human conduct was not limited to the Confucians; it was generally assumed in all early philosophical texts. Nor was the imagery the provenance of any particular school. For example, water which moves forward without force, giving life to everything, is described in Xunzi as ‘wuwei’ (without action) or (doing nothing) a term that is particularly associated with Daoism.

      CONTEXT: Shuen-fu Lin addresses "the sage", the person with the highest spiritual attainment who was first emulated and thought of in the Wei-Jin movement, following the Han Dynasty. The sage allows the innate tendencies and has all five of the human emotions addressed in the passage, but "...does not act, complies, and does not implement. He eliminates what leads things astray and gets rid of what confuses them." The sage is addressed as exhibiting qualities of both the Daoist way of life and the Confucianist way. The sage is like the image of water that is an unattainable, sage-like, presence and moral conduct, desired by both Daoist and Confucianist beliefs. "Gentlemen" look at water in awe, gazing upon the perfection of its inaction and lack of effort in attaining its intellect, beauty, and respect. The water has of "ziran", or perhaps, is "ziran" that humans are able to express communion with nature and nonpurposive action. This word is also described as spontaneously existing and being "so oneself" -nothing acting behind them. Water does not decide or dwell for too long, it just exists in movement and in detachment which I think human beings desire greatly.

      Cai, Zongqi. Chinese Aesthetics: The Ordering of Literature, the Arts, and the Universe in the Six Dynasties. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

      RELATE: In 'The Experience of Nature' by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, human action and thought is addressed as influenced by our setting/environment whether the setting require immediate responsive action or the response take place in a slower, observational method varies. The authors write, "People are particularly aware of information that is visual, that concerns what they see. That does not mean that people interpret the information in visual terms exclusively; rather, visual stimuli are effective in conjuring associated information. The sight of water provides information about potential opportunities which may or may not be visual in themselves" (Kaplan, 4). Reverie from observation that allows self reflection, thought free from distraction, and intuitive action is typically included in our broader categorization of landscape qualities when we discuss as landscape architects. Human reaction to landscape is so much bigger than the texture, color, or even kinesthetic feeling within the place and can be thought of as artwork in addition- prompting development of thought even subconsciously within the the one experiencing.

      Kaplan, Rachel, and Stephen Kaplan. The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

    1. “It remains for me to show, in coming finally to a conclusion, that all things in this world which men employ have been created and provided for the sake of men.


      In Carolyn Merchant's "Reinventing Eden" it is written that the distinction between nature and man became more severe as agricultural communities referred to a constant, unchanging God that is separate from nature and therefore legitimates potential human dominion over it. That humans must be fruitful and multiple OR they must sow and tend to the earth... Either mission reiterates that humans are the link between God and earth and that humans are to be provided for and that the earth must be tamed in some fashion for the sake of humanity's growth and expansion (whether it is called dominion or care). Agricultural practices in Ancient Mesopotamia lead to the first large scale environmental problems; Merchant writes, "...canals stretched from the Tigris to the Euphrates, bringing fertility to thousands of square miles of cropland, as irrigation waters evaporated, salts accumulated in the soils and reduced productivity"(Merchant, 26).

      Merchant, Carolyn. Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture. London: Psychology Press, 2004.

    2. “Then the earth, teeming with grain and vegetables of various kinds, which she pours forth in lavish abundance- does she appear to give birth to this produce for the sake of the wild beasts or for the sake of men? What shall I say of the vines and olives, whose bounteous and delightful fruits do not concern the lower animals at all? In fact the beasts of the field are entirely ignorant of the arts of sowing and cultivating, and of reaping and gathering the fruits of the earth in due season and storing them in garners; all these products are both enjoyed and tended by men.” (p. 275)


      In Reinventing Eden, it is also addressed that narratives are ideals that only address or include bits or biases. Religion and ethic give permission to address and exist with nature in different degrees of severity. (p. 36) Cicero writes in this second passage selected that the "lower animals" have no desire or concern for the harvested and cultivated. Perhaps it is the time at which he writes compared to my modern day perspective, but it seems as though this statement is avoidance of addressing the landscape these lower animals live and will continuing living on devoid of the natural resources humanity has depleted it of in production of the vines and the olives that are spoken of. Of course, just because the crop itself may be of no interest to animals, the land that the crop is being produced on is transformed and therefore affects the natural world in its entirety. It is the moral, the ethic, and the story we tell ourselves that permits us to act. It is as though we believe we are doing the right thing- which is evident especially current day.

      Merchant, Carolyn. Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture. London: Psychology Press, 2004.


      Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things (De Rerum Natura) (ca. 99-55 BCE)

      As for planting and grafting, the original pattern for these operations was provided by creative nature herself, since fallen berries and acorns in due time produced swarms of seedlings beneath the trees; and this gave people the idea of entrusting slips to branches and of planting young saplings in the earth all over the countryside. Then they kept on experimenting with new methods of cultivating the little plot of land they loved, and saw wild fruits improve in the ground in response to their kindly care and coaxing. And day by day they forced the forests to retreat farther and farther up the mountains and surrender the parts below to cultivation, so that on hills and plains they might have meadows, ponds, streams, crops, and exuberant vines, and so that the distinctive gray-green zone of olives might run between, spreading over down and dale and plain. They created landscapes such as we see today—landscapes rich in delightful variety, attractively dotted with sweet fruit trees and enclosed with luxuriant plantations.

      In mimicking the landscape we are able to produce and even regenerate with the hopes that our efforts can reinvent our idea of an original Eden. Lucretius' prose reminds me so much of the intimacy that is written in Carolyn Merchant's Reinventing Eden between woman and the earth, i.e. Eve and her curiosity in the serpent and in the ways and wonders of the earth. Cicero's description of agriculture seems respectful and observant of the earth in agricultural practice but never addresses the human tendency to cross the line between need and desire for more. Lucretius does, however address, human expansion for agricultural practice later in the prose which is ultimately paralleled to the fall of the Roman Empire- the overuse and the over-extraction of what Cicero is calling earth's "overabundance" in this passage.

      Lucretius Carus, Titus, J. S. Watson, and John Mason Good. 1901. Lucretius on the nature of things. London: G. Bell.

      These readings also remind me of my favorite book called Ishmael. Ishmael, a philosophical novel, by Daniel Quinn, was written in 1992 addressing the unspoken cultural/spiritual/ethical biases driving modern day progress, industrialization, and expansion. Quinn's book addresses the Green Belt Revolution so it is really fascinating to see how deeply rooted this battle between the ethical choice of humanity and earth is within our ancestry, or planet, and humankind in total- not just within the Western world.

  4. Aug 2020
    1. Universal Institutions of Humanity

      Contextualize: This passage is from a piece written (separate from but in reference) to reading the Epic of Gilgamesh. The work alludes to Gilgamesh's understanding of human fear of death puts fear into categories of institutions (generally religious tradition) that divides the order of man from nature itself. These traditions historically have either held a greater distance from the outer natural world or have centered around and incorporated it (indigenous peoples).

      Relate: Willemien Otten, in her book, 'Thinking Nature and the Nature of Thinking', approaches the division between nature and the institutions of man from a religious perspective, focusing mostly on the boundary of divinity written about in this passage (matrimony and burial as a part of a larger Divinity). She writes that religion has always "had trouble finding a proper role for nature" (therefore dividing it from human condition). She writes "...it seemed, as the order of nature, could only survive by repressing its more animal-like instinctual impulses. Otten describes human order as repressing nature, religion (Christianity) specifically, sought to tame nature in Genesis's divine imposition. Otten then states that in her more theophanic alternative view, nature will emerge not as rival to creation but as an anchor for it. Otten alludes to philospher, Eriugena's understanding of nature, describing 'natura' as dynamic and flexible- whereas, before, orthodox understanding of Divinity positioned God's providence over the spatiotemporal creation in which human history exists. In his work, Periphyseon, Eriugena gives emphasis enough to nature that it develops towards the divine, softening boundary between man and the natural.

      Eriugena seems to make the natural world into a more mental concept that allows man to incorporate it into religion (including matrimony and burial). This does not necessarily oppose the boundary between nature and man within Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh talks about the human condition as it is (all within the mind) and therefore either encourages relationship between man and earth or encourages a more fearful mindset.

      Though conceptualizing nature allows for destruction or neglect on beings that are not human, human ability to wrap one's mind around a force that is otherwise intimidating in actuality, may allow for coexistence despite the boundary.

      Otten later references Emerson's thought of nature is more so use of nature in human psychology to dissect the human soul.

      Otten, Willemien. Thinking Nature and the Nature of Thinking: From Eriugena to Emerson. Cultural Memory in the Present, 2020.