On the wild edge of what we know
Kathleen Jamie – renowned poet and also a great essayist, as her book Sightlines shows – joined forester Peter Wohlleben and others on today’s BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week. Together, they covered trees, air pollution, rewilding, language and other arenas of nature-culture.
It’s de-centring to confront Wohlleben’s evidence for the sensations and social liveliness of trees within their ‘wood wide web’; in host Andrew Marr’s words, this is “on the wild edge of what most of us know.” How are ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ so separated that these are such odd thoughts, immediately triggering fears of mysticism and anthropomorphism (both real enough risks)?
It’s only recently that I’ve found my own, invaluable, science-based scepticism being subtly retuned and reapplied. Now I wonder how science might have developed differently early on, might have kept us in better relationships with the world? Relationships all around us that science is now revealing and pointing us towards.
As Jamie says, “There is an awareness growing but can it grow quickly enough? We’ve got to dethrone ourselves.” This suggests an entirely new politics that “is thrilling in its way. It’s revolutionary. It’s exciting that it’s happening in our lifetimes, but it’s going to go to the wire.”