msb ~009 Fitting our oddness into the scheme of things

Fitting our oddness into the scheme of things

Nature Cure, by Richard Mabey; wood engravings by Jonathan Gibbs

A passage from one of my favourite ‘nature books’, Richard Mabey’s Nature Cure. Pondering the ‘opposition’ of nature and culture and the role of human language and imagination:

“It is odd that the gifts of image-making and language are so often seen as the attributes which irrevocably alienate us from nature, are the cause of our fall from grace. We will never know the state of self-consciousness of another species, but it’s a reasonable bet that most don’t use language in the way that we do, or think metaphorically, or meditate their vivid sense-experience through such a complex net of associations and references

“Yet why on earth should this ‘estrange’ us? The notion that going ‘back to nature’ — longed for or dreaded, depending on your point of view — must necessarily involve some equivalent retreat from self-awareness is absurd. We have evolved as talkers and dreamers. That is our niche in the world, something we can’t undo. But can’t we use those very skills as our way back…?”

Language and imagination are “the gateway to … fitting our oddness into the scheme of things.”

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