Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Beyond The Death/End Of Nature

Lance Kinseth, Infinite Reach, 48”x48, acrylic/gallery canvas

WE NEVER ESCAPE being “ecological.”   Bill McKibben [find his publications] says we are “post-natural,” essentially (1) removed from wildness (to be fair, not really from nature as we are inside the universe/multi-verse) and (2) having now impacted on all of the Earth so that prisine nature has ended.  Really?  Such a statement from a person who clambers about the world telling people what to do, what is wild, what is wrong, and it illustrates our eco-illiteracy at the higher levels, as people bow down, as if they have been given the very real current state of affairs.

In fact, all of our problematic “post-naturalism” is, in fact, a gut-level, core, practical eco-response from wild beings, still so very young in the Earth, but so naive that we unintentionally do many of the right things (as well as the wrong things) for this “post-modern” moment in time.  In these modern, “dark eco-ages,” there can be a sense  that we are doing something right, something so right for all of the negative consequences, that it far outdid all, All, yes, ALL, of the wondrous, kind, best-intended, most benevolent efforts of the most engaged eco-saviors.

All the introduction of the human on the landscape, from the Neolithic on, is au natural, not a dis-ease.  Cybernetics—“computer-ology”—seems so unnatural, but it is still quite primal. 

Instead of being apart from nature or, more focused, apart from wildness, we are finding ourselves to be ore deeply lost in it.  “Wilderness” was once something dangerous, then something nearly inanimate and banal needing our “use” to activate it, and now something extremely complex, likely beyond us, beyond our intellect, extremely intelligent, full of calculus without thinking, form the slime mold to the dog chasing a bone in the river, to the stars.

Bill McKibbin—shame on you for such limiting, separating, misleading metaphors.

Yes, urbanization can seem like the “end of nature” but it is so deep, so inside, and so responsive globally and dominantly with adaptive eco-features [that I was once wont to only credit the beautiful rivers and grasses as capable of actualizing].  We are doing some good work that we can build upon.  And the idea that we are moving in the wrong direction, just keeps us from it.  So much eco-work keeps us from it by envisioning ourselves as separate/apart.  We become our words.  Say “nature,” and you look out the window, and yet, you are lost inside the overriding wilderness of Earth and galaxy and universe and multi-verse].

Yes, still so very young in the history of the Earth, we do not understand how to integrate into the larger Earth community (as Thomas Berry admonishes us to do in his book, The Great Work, but are sort of doing it anyway, although folks like Bill would tell you otherwise).  It is apparent that our eco-literacy is still in its infancy, especially with regard to our sense of expressing nature.  Viewing Earthrise over moonscape in 1970, we are, at our very best, at the beginning of a renascent shift, perhaps more like Cimabue in the early Italian Renaissance—just intuitively reacting without really having a concise directive or language.

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