Quassù, la sensazione che la natura ha una sua presenza psichica è fortissima. A volte, quando tutto imbacuccato contro il freddo mi fermo ad osservare, seduto su un grotto, il primo raggio di sole che accende le vette dei ghiacciai e lentamente solleva il velo di oscurità, facendo emergere catene e catene di altre montagne dal fondo lattiginoso delle valli, un’aria di immensa gioia pervade il mondo ed io stesso mi ci sento avvolto, assieme agli alberi, gli uccelli, le formiche: sempre la stessa vita in tante diverse, magnifiche forme.
The supply of matter in the universe was never more tightly packed than it is now, or more widely spread out. For nothing is ever added to it or subtracted from it. It follows that the movement of atoms today is no different from what it was in bygone ages and always will be. So the things that have regularly come into being will continue to come into being in the same manner; they will be and grow and flourish so far as each is allowed by the laws of nature.
How can we distinguish what is biologically determined from what people merely try to justify through biological myths? A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, Culture forbids.’ Biology is willing to tolerate a very wide spectrum of possibilities. It’s culture that obliges people to realize some possibilities while forbidding others. Biology enables women to have children – some cultures oblige women to realize this possibility. Biology enables men to enjoy sex with one another – some cultures forbid them to realize this possibility. Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behavior, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist.
What we must think about is an agriculture with a human face. We must give standing to the new pioneers, the homecomers bent on the most important work for the next century – a massive salvage operation to save the vulnerable but necessary pieces of nature and culture and to keep the good and artful examples before us. It is time for a new breed of artists to enter front and center, for the point of art, after all, is to connect. This is the homecomer I have in mind: the scientist, the accountant who converses with nature, a true artist devoted to the building of agriculture and culture to match the scenery presented to those first European eyes.
During the Reformation and the Enlightenment, nature came to be understood in a mechanistic sense as bereft of any capacity for divine grace or revelation. We’ll explore this suggestion further in the next chapter. In order to appreciate the significance of this, we have to recognize that nature is a cultural construct. When we speak of nature, we are using language to describe the world around us with all its species, life-forms and landscapes. But nature is a concept whose meaning changes with different perceptions and ways of looking at the world. This means that supernatural is also a concept which has different meanings, for it refers to phenomena or experiences which do not seem to fit within our particular expectations of what nature is or should be. The term supernatural therefore depends on a certain concept of what natural is. For many people who are less determinately materialist than Dawkins, there may be an indeterminate region which is neither strictly natural nor strictly supernatural. A red rose may be natural, but when I am given one by the person I love, I experience a range of emotions, memories and associations which endow that rose with symbolic significance and make it, in some sense, supernatural. It transcends its natural biological functions to communicate something in the realms of beauty, hope and love.
Sophia and Grandmother sat down by the shore to discuss the matter further. It was a pretty day, and the sea was running a long, windless swell. It was on days just like this–dog days–that boats went sailing off all by themselves. Large, alien objects made their way in from sea, certain things sank and others rose, milk soured, and dragonflies danced in desperation. Lizards were not afraid. When the moon came up, red spiders mated on uninhabited skerries, where the rock became an unbroken carpet of tiny, ecstatic spiders.
Humans! They lived in a world where the grass continued to be green and the sun rose every day and flowers regularly turned into fruit, and what impressed them? Weeping statues. And wine made out of water! A mere quantum-mechanistic tunnel effect, that’d happen anyway if you were prepared to wait zillions of years. As if the turning of sunlight into wine, by means of vines and grapes and time and enzymes, wasn’t a thousand times more impressive and happened all the time…
I am drawn to a fourth alternative, natural teleology, or teleological bias, as an account of the existence of the biological possibilities on which natural selection can operate. I believe that teleology is a naturalistic alternative that is distinct from all three of the other candidate explanations: chance, creationism, and directionless physical law. To avoid the mistake that White finds in the hypothesis of nonintentional bias, teleology would have to be restrictive in what it makes likely, but without depending on intentions or motives. This would probably have to involve some conception of an increase in value through the expanded possibilities provided by the higher forms of organization toward which nature tends: not just any outcome could qualify as a telos. That would make value an explanatory end, but not one that is realized through the purposes or intentions of an agent. Teleology means that in addition to physical law of the familiar kind, there are other laws of nature that are “biased toward the marvelous”.
The blossoms seem unusually lovely this year. There were none of the scarlet-and-white-striped curtains that are set up among the blossoming trees so invariably that one has to come to think of them as the attire of cherry blossoms; there were no bustling tea-stalls, no holiday crowds of flower-viewers, no one hawking balloons and toy windmills; instead there were only the cherry trees blossoming undisturbed among the evergreens, making one feel as though he were seeing the naked bodies of the blossoms. Nature’s free bounty and useless extravagance had never appeared so fantastically beautiful as it did this spring. I had an uncomfortable suspicion that Nature had come to reconquer the earth for herself.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;Little we see in Nature that is ours;We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,The winds that will be howling at all hours,And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,For this, for everything, we are out of tune;It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather beA Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
What though the radiance which was once so brightBe now for ever taken from my sight,Though nothing can bring back the hourOf splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;We will grieve not, rather findStrength in what remains behind;In the primal sympathyWhich having been must ever be;In the soothing thoughts that springOut of human suffering;In the faith that looks through death,In years that bring the philosophic mind.
I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.
There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura Naturans. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fountain of action and of joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being…
[Science] dissipates errors born of ignorance about our true relations with nature, errors the more damaging in that the social order should rest only on those relations. TRUTH! JUSTICE! Those are the immutable laws. Let us banish the dangerous maxim that it is sometimes useful to depart from them and to deceive or enslave mankind to assure its happiness.
We ought to regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its antecedent state and as the cause of the state that is to follow. An intelligence knowing all the forces acting in nature at a given instant, as well as the momentary positions of all things in the universe, would be able to comprehend in one single formula the motions of the largest bodies as well as the lightest atoms in the world, provided that its intellect were sufficiently powerful to subject all data to analysis; to it nothing would be uncertain, the future as well as the past would be present to its eyes. The perfection that the human mind has been able to give to astronomy affords but a feeble outline of such an intelligence.
Might one not say that in the chance combination of nature’s production, since only those endowed with certain relations of suitability could survive, it is no cause for wonder that this suitability is found in all species that exist today? Chance, one might say, produced an innumerable multitude of individuals; a small number turned out to be constructed in such fashion that the parts of the animal could satisfy its needs; in another, infinitely greater number, there was neither suitability nor order: all of the later have perished; animals without a mouth could not live, others lacking organs for reproduction could not perpetuate themselves: the only ones to have remained are those in which were found order and suitability; and these species, which we see today, are only the smallest part of what blind fate produced.
We have got some very big problems confronting us and let us not make any mistake about it, human history in the future is fraught with tragedy … It’s only through people making a stand against that tragedy and being doggedly optimistic that we are going to win through. If you look at the plight of the human race it could well tip you into despair, so you have to be very strong.
Apparence de paixPas de carnage ici, pas de mise à mort.Les drames de l’histoire sont parfoiscomme une musique qui demeureau fond d’un champ où l’on marcheparmi le bruissement du maïs,aimanté par des oiseaux fousà l’orée du bois et sous un cielque strie la fumée blanche d’un avion— en haute altitude, des voyageurs sans doutesirotent l’apéro dans une carlinguequi les protège du froid absolu —mais ici-bas sous le vent tiède de septembrela terre joue sa partitionancienne, les enfant des fermess’en sont allés en sifflant dans l’herbeet des veuves inconsolables hantent toujoursles parages de la rivière que l’on ditparesseuse, à croire que le jour entierva refermer sur elle sa masse bleue,elles seront dans la caverne du temps,les années chanteront leur absenceet très haut, oiseaux et bolidesiront vers ailleurs en ignorant toutde leurs peines, leurs douleurs, leurs coffresremplis de robes d’un autre ge.
Naysayers at their polite best chided the rewilders for romanticizing the past; at their sniping worst, for tempting a ‘Jurassic Park’ disaster. To these the rewilders quietly voiced a sad and stinging reply. The most dangerous experiment is already underway. The future most to be feared is the one now dictated by the status quo. In vanquishing our most fearsome beasts from the modern world, we have released worse monsters from the compound. They come in disarmingly meek and insidious forms, in chewing plagues of hoofed beasts and sweeping hordes of rats and cats and second-order predators. They come in the form of denuded seascapes and barren forests, ruled by jellyfish and urchins, killer deer and sociopathic monkeys. They come as haunting demons of the human mind. In conquering the fearsome beasts, the conquerors had unwittingly orphaned themselves.
I love nature dearly and all creatures that contribute to make it what it is. I see the beauty in all expressions of life, and I see how blind so many of us still are. Our planet is remarkably abundant and there’s more than enough for us all.It is greed and shortsightedness that create the illusion of scarcity.
Feeling at home anywhere on earth, and a foreigner even in the country where I was born, I consider myself an earthling, a citizen of the world.I love nature dearly and all creatures that contribute to make it what it is. I see the beauty in all expressions of life, and I see how blind so many of us still are. Our planet is remarkably abundant and there’s more than enough for us all.It is greed and shortsightedness that create the illusion of scarcity. I have lived through tremendous adventures and survived only because other people risked their lives for me. Realising how interconnected and interdependent we all are, I am neither shy or embarrassed when it is time for me lean on another to ask for help. And when I have the opportunity to help another, I view it as my duty and privilege.
We did not make ourselves, nor did we fashion a world that could not work without pain, and great pain at that, with a little pleasure, very little, to string us along–a world where all organisms are inexorably pushed by pain throughout their lives to do that which will improve their chances to survive and create more of themselves. Left unchecked, this process will last as long as a single cell remains palpitating in this cesspool of the solar system, this toilet of the galaxy. So why not lend a hand in nature’s suicide? For want of a deity that could be held to account for a world in which there is terrible pain, let nature take the blame for our troubles. We did not create an environment uncongenial to our species, nature did. One would think that nature was trying to kill us off, or get us to suicide ourselves once the blunder of consciousness came upon us. What was nature thinking? We tried to anthropomorphize it, to romanticize it, to let it into our hearts. But nature kept its distance, leaving us to our own devices. So be it. Survival is a two-way street. Once we settle ourselves off-world, we can blow up this planet from outer space. It’s the only way to be sure its stench will not follow us. Let it save itself if it can–the condemned are known for the acrobatics they will execute to wriggle out of their sentences. But if it cannot destroy what it has made, and what could possibly unmake it, then may it perish along with every other living thing it has introduced to pain.
when we will unmake this world in which we are battered between long burden and brief delight, and will live in pleasure for all our days.” The belief in the possibility of long-lasting, high-flown pleasures is a deceptive but adaptive flimflam. It seems that nature did not make us to feel too good for too long, which would be no good for the survival of the species, but only to feel good enough for long enough to keep us from complaining that we do not feel good all the time.
Why I Am HappyNow has come, an easy time. I let it roll. There is a lake somewhere so blue and far nobody owns it. A wind comes by and a willow listens gracefully. I hear all this, every summer. I laugh and cry for every turn of the world, its terribly cold, innocent spin. That lake stays blue and free; it goes on and on. And I know where it is.
Every morning I was renewed, though. Air and light healed me, over and over. I got to where I depended on it. When I was feeling my worst, I would step out into the yard and put my hands on the branches of the little redbud. It made me feel like I was saying a prayer, to do this. I know that sounds like foolishness, but that little tree was like an altar for me. I stood there in the cold of early winter, wishing for the redbud to bear leaves so that I might put my face against them.
Frequently, I have been asked if an experiment I have planned is pure or applied science; to me it is more important to know if the experiment will yield new and probably enduring knowledge about nature. If it is likely to yield such knowledge, it is, in my opinion, good fundamental research; and this is more important than whether the motivation is purely aesthetic satisfaction on the part of the experimenter on the one hand or the improvement of the stability of a high-power transistor on the other.
The yard consisted of grass and a Russian Olive tree, which was about the only kind of tree able to survive on the high prairies. Its thin, grey leaves made it look as though it were on the verge of dying, thereby fooling the elements and the bad weather into thinking that they didn’t have to bother with something so spindly and bent, something so obviously on its last legs.
Your printers have made but one blunder,Correct it instanter, and then for the thunder!We’ll see in a jiffy if this Mr S[pencer]Has the ghost of a claim to be thought a good fencer.To my vision his merits have still seemed to dwindle,Since I have found him allied with the great Dr T[yndall]While I have, for my part, grown cockier and cockier,Since I found an ally in yourself, Mr L[ockyer]And am always, in consequence, thoroughly willin’,To perform in the pages of Nature’s M[acmillan].
In relation to the natural world, the pleasure of Americans can be destructive in the same way that their work has already proved to be. It is not, certainly, a conscious destructiveness. But in that very unconsciousness it becomes an aspect of one of our worst national failings: our refusal to admit the need to be conscious. Or to put it more meaningfully: our refusal to admit that unconsciousness, in our time, is almost inevitably destructive.
Once the creator was removed from the creation, divinity became only a remote abstraction, a social weapon in the hands of the religious institutions. This split in public values produced or was accompanied by, as it was bound to be, an equally artificial and ugly division in people’s lives, so that a man, while pursuing Heaven with the sublime appetite he thought of as his soul, could turn his heart against his neighbors and his hands against the world…Though Heaven is certainly more important than the earth if all they say about it is true, it is still morally incidental to it and dependent on it, and I can only imagine it and desire it in terms of what I know of the earth. (pg. 23, “A Native Hill”)
Until we understand what the land is, we are at odds with everything we touch. And to come to that understanding it is necessary, even now, to leave the regions of our conquest – the cleared fields, the towns and cities, the highways – and re-enter the woods. For only there can a man encounter the silence and the darkness of his own absence. Only in this silence and darkness can he recover the sense of the world’s longevity, of its ability to thrive without him, of his inferiority to it and his dependence on it. Perhaps then, having heard that silence and seen that darkness, he will grow humble before the place and begin to take it in – to learn from it what it is. As its sounds come into his hearing, and its lights and colors come into his vision, and its odors come into his nostrils, then he may come into its presence as he never has before, and he will arrive in his place and will want to remain. His life will grow out of the ground like the other lives of the place, and take its place among them. He will be with them – neither ignorant of them, nor indifferent to them, nor against them – and so at last he will grow to be native-born. That is, he must reenter the silence and the darkness, and be born again.(pg. 27, “A Native Hill”)
If we are to have a culture as resilient and competent in the face of necessity as it needs to be, then it must somehow involve within itself a ceremonious generosity toward the wilderness of natural force and instinct. The farm must yield a place to the forest, not as a wood lot, or even as a necessary agricultural principle but as a sacred grove – a place where the Creation is let alone, to serve as instruction, example, refuge; a place for people to go, free of work and presumption, to let themselves alone. (pg. 125, The Body and the Earth)
The paramount doctrine of the economic and technological euphoria of recent decades has been that everything depends on innovation. It was understood as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on from one technological innovation to the next, which would cause the economy to “grow” and make everything better and better. This of course implied at every point a hatred of the past, of all things inherited and free. All things superceded in our progress of innovations, whatever their value might have been, were discounted as of no value at all.
We do not need to plan or devise a “world of the future”; if we take care of the world of the present, the future will have received full justice from us. A good future is implicit in the soils, forests, grasslands, marshes, deserts, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans that we have now, and in the good things of human culture that we have now; the only valid “futurology” available to us is to take care of those things. We have no need to contrive and dabble at “the future of the human race”; we have the same pressing need that we have always had – to love, care for, and teach our children.(pg. 73, “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine”)
While the government is “studying” and funding and organizing its Big Thought, nothing is being done. But the citizen who is willing to Think Little, and, accepting the discipline of that, to go ahead on his own, is already solving the problem. A man who is trying to live as a neighbor to his neighbors will have a lively and practical understanding of the work of peace and brotherhood, and let there be no mistake about it – he is doing that work…A man who is willing to undertake the discipline and the difficulty of mending his own ways is worth more to the conservation movement than a hundred who are insisting merely that the government and the industries mend their ways.(pg.87, “Think Little”)
We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us. We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behavior toward the world – to the incalculable disadvantage of the world and every living thing in it. And now, perhaps very close to too late, our great error has become clear. It is not only our own creativity – our own capacity for life – that is stifled by our arrogant assumption; the creation itself is stifled.We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it. (pg. 20, “A Native Hill”)
It’s too short,’ she said, ‘ever so much too short.’ Never did anybody look so sad. Bitter and black, half-way down, in the darkness, in the shaft which ran from the sunlight to the depths, perhaps a tear formed; a tear fell; the waters swayed this way and that, received it, and were at rest. Never did anybody look so sad.
The fact that a cloud from a minor volcanic eruption in Iceland—a small disturbance in the complex mechanism of life on the Earth—can bring to a standstill the aerial traffic over an entire continent is a reminder of how, with all its power to transform nature, humankind remains just another species on the planet Earth.
I thus found that the student who wishes for a shelter can obtain one for a lifetime at an expense not greater than the rent which he now pays annually. If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself; and my shortcomings and inconsistencies do not affect the truth of my statement.
The nature of atheism merits clarification on two further points which involve less common ideas about theism. The first involves the idea of ‘God’ which is metaphorical — for example, a theist who believes in ‘God’ as a principle of conscience or morality. This ‘God’ exists in a person’s mind and it is not something which atheists will dispute. Atheists agree that gods exist as ideas in people’s minds; the disagreement lies over whether any gods actually exist independently of human beliefs. Those are the gods which atheists disbelieve in or deny.The second type of theism involves gods that exist as physical objects: stones, trees, rivers, or even the universe itself. Believers treat these objects are their gods, but do atheists reject their existence? Of course not — but how do they then remain atheists? The point of disagreement here is whether the label ‘god’ communicates any information beyond the more common label of ‘stone,’ ‘tree,’ or ‘universe.’ If not, then as far as atheists are concerned, those objects don’t merit the extra label ‘god’ and they remain atheists.
It is one of the greatest Curses visited upon Mankind, he told me, that they shall fear where no Fear is: this astrological and superstitious Humour disarms men’s Hearts, it breaks their Courage, it makes them help to bring such Calamities on themselves. Then he stopped short and looked at me, but my Measure was not yet fill’d up so I begg’ d him to go on, go on. And he continued: First, they fancy that such ill Accidents must come to pass, and so they render themselves fit Subjects to be wrought upon; it is a Disgrace to the Reason and Honour of Mankind that every fantasticall Humourist can presume to interpret the Skies (here he grew Hot and put down his Dish) and to expound the Time and Seasons and Fates of Empires, assigning the Causes of Plagues and Fires to the Sins of Men or the Judgements of God. This weakens the Constancy of Humane Actions, and affects Men with Fears, Doubts, Irresolutions and Terrours.I was afraid of your Moving Picture, I said without thought, and that was why I left.It was only Clock-work, Nick.But what of the vast Machine of the World, in which Men move by Rote but in which nothing is free from Danger?Nature yields to the Froward and the Bold.It does not yield, it devours: You cannot master or manage Nature.But, Nick, our Age can at least take up the Rubbidge and lay the Foundacions: that is why we must study the principles of Nature, for they are our best Draught.No, sir, you must study the Humours and Natures of Men: they are corrupt, and therefore your best Guides to understand Corrupcion.The things of the Earth must be understood by the sentient Faculties, not by the Understanding. There was a Silence between us now until Sir Chris. says, Is your Boy in the Kitchin? I am mighty Hungry.
A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shadows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.
I paused to listen to the silence. My breath, crystallized as it passed my cheeks, drifted on a breeze gentler than a whisper. The wind vane pointed toward the South Pole. Presently the wind cups ceased their gentle turning as the cold killed the breeze. My frozen breath hung like a cloud overhead. The day was dying, the night being born — but with great peace. Here were the imponderable processes and forces of the cosmos, harmonious and soundless. Harmony, that was it! That was what came out of the silence — a gentle rhythm, the strain of a perfect chord, the music of the spheres, perhaps.It was enough to catch that rhythm, momentarily to be myself a part of it. In that instant I could feel no doubt of man’s oneness with the universe. The conviction came that the rhythm was too orderly, too harmonious, too perfect to be a product of blind chance — that, therefore, there must be purpose in the whole and that man was part of that whole and not an accidental offshoot. It was a feeling that transcended reason; that went to the heart of man’s despair and found it groundless. The universe was a cosmos, not a chaos; man was rightfully a part of that cosmos as were the day and night.
Sometimes, your future is already set, and there is nothing you can about it. there are somethings you just can’t change, no matter how hard you work. Unfair, don’t you think? It isn’t an easy fact to accept, and I’m not telling you to, but that’s just how life is. UnfairBut no matter how hard i think about it, i just believe everything in this world is beautiful. The sky, birds, bugs,frogs,flowers and even rocks. Nature is really awesome, because, if God created this world, could there really be anything dirty and ugly in it?
[W]e cease to be soldiers in the army of the upright; we become deserters. They march to battle. We float with the sticks on the stream; helter-skelter with the dead leaves on the lawn, irresponsible and disinterested and able, perhaps for the first time for years, to look round, to look up—to look, for example, at the sky.
I stopped in front of a florist’s window. Behind me, the screeching and throbbing boulevard vanished. Gone, too, were the voices of newspaper vendors selling their daily poisoned flowers. Facing me, behind the glass curtain, a fairyland. Shining, plump carnations, with the pink voluptuousness of women about to reach maturity, poised for the first step of a sprightly dance; shamelessly lascivious gladioli; virginal branches of white lilac; roses lost in pure meditation, undecided between the metaphysical white and the unreal yellow of a sky after the rain.
Could I but acquaint the world with Robert G. Ingersoll’s humanity, with his ideas and his sentiments of love, patience and understanding, a renascence would automatically take place that would give life and living on this little earth of ours some semblance of what we call paradise.And this great and wonderful man had to die!I do not know the purpose of life, nor do I understand why death should come to all that is; but this I do know — that when Robert G. Ingersoll died, on July 21, 1899, then you and I, and the whole world, suffered a mortal blow.When the mighty heart, of his mighty body, that supplied the blood to his mighty brain, burst, never again was there to fall from his eloquent lips the pearls of thought that had been so wondrously formed in his brain.The mightiest voice in all the world was silenced, forever. No wonder the people wept when they heard that Ingersoll was dead.He was the greatest of the Great — the Mightiest of the Mighty. He was ‘as constant as the Northern Star whose true fixed and resting quality there is no fellow in the firmament.’ He was the indistinguishable star whose brilliance never dimmed.When Robert G. Ingersoll died, his death was ‘the ruins of the noblest man that ever lived in the tide of time … When shall we ever see another?’When Robert G. Ingersoll died, the sky should have been rent asunder, and Nature should have gone into mourning.When this man died, Nature’s masterpiece was destroyed, and hot tears of grief should have fallen from the heavens.Robert G. Ingersoll no longer belongs to his family;He no longer belongs to his friends;He no longer belongs to his country;Robert G. Ingersoll now belongs to all the world — the whole universe –He is immortal and eternal.Among the galaxies of Nature’s masterpieces, none shine with a greater brilliance than the babe who was born in this house 121 years ago today, and named Robert Green Ingersoll.
The cloudless day is richer at its close;A golden glory settles on the lea;Soft, stealing shadows hint of cool reposeTo mellowing landscape, and to calming sea.And in that nobler, gentler, lovelier light,The soul to sweeter, loftier bliss inclines;Freed form the noonday glare, the favour’d sightIncreasing grace in earth and sky divines.But ere the purest radiance crowns the green,Or fairest lustre fills th’ expectant grove,The twilight thickens, and the fleeting sceneLeaves but a hallow’d memory of love!
As I sit, my back leaning against a damp, moss-covered tree trunk, my eyes sweeping the canopy above, my ears straining to catch the crack of a distant branch that betrays an orangutan moving in the treetops, I think about how we humans search for God. The tropical rain forest is the most complex thing an ordinary human can experience on this planet. A walk in the rain forest is a walk into the mind of God.
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,Stuffed with the stuff that is course, and stuffed with the stuff that is fine, one of the nation, of many nations, the smallest the same and the the largest
The poet dreams of the mountainSometimes I grow weary of the days, with all their fits and starts.I want to climb some old gray mountains, slowly, takingThe rest of my lifetime to do it, resting often, sleepingUnder the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks.I want to see how many stars are still in the skyThat we have smothered for years now, a century at least.I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all,And peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only.I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.
Enmerson’s interest is in the workshop phase, the birthing stage of art, not the museum moment, the embalming phase. Poetry mimics Creation and is therefore sacred. More precisely, just as God may indeed be a verb (as Mary Daly insists), poetry is the act of creating. The process of poetry also mimics the process of nature. ‘This expression or naming is not art, but a second nature, grown out of the first, as a leaf out of a tree. What we call nature is a certain self-regulated motion or change.’ Another aspect of nature is genius, which, as Emerson observes, ‘is the activity which repairs the decays of things.
He tousled Baby’s hair, then looked up at Tiger Lily. “The woods have rules.” He put Baby down gingerly in his trough with his bottle. “But the rules are ugly.””It’s nature,” she said, thoughtfully.”I have a lot of disagreements with nature,” he said, looking confused, and his downy brow wrinkled over his eyes.
Once when I looked up, I happened to see a sea eagle poised on magisterial wings above the knurled summit of the mountain behind my tent. It was a scene of peerless tranquility, tossed out in Nature’s devil-may-care way, which says: Just open your eyes, my friend, and I’ll astonish you every minute of your life.
The old school of thought would have you believe that you’d be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn’t what being in nature is all about. Rather, it’s about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us.
So, that was Nature’s way. The mosquito felt pain and panic but the dragonfly knew nothing of cruelty. Humans would call it evil, the big dragonfly destroying the mosquito and ignoring the little insects suffering. Yet humans hated mosquitoes too, calling them vicious and bloodthirsty. All these words, words like ‘evil’ and ‘vicious’, they meant nothing to Nature. Yes, evil was a human invention.
In Antartica, The Wright and half a dozen other valleys in the Central Transantarctic Mountains are collectively referred to as the dry valleys. It has not rained here in two million years. No animal abides, no plant grows. A persistent, sometimes ferocious wind has stripped the country to stone and gravel, to streamers of sand. The huge valleys stand stark as empty fjords. You look in vain for any conventional sign of human history- the vestige of a protective wall, a bit of charcoal, a discarded arrowhead. Nothing. There is no history, until you bore into the layers of rock or until the balls of your fingertips run the rim of a partially exposed fossil. At the height of the austral summer, in December, you smell nothing but the sunbeaten stone. In a silence dense as water, your eye picks up no movement but the sloughing of sand, seeking its angle of repose. On the flight in from New Zealand it had occurred to me, from what I had read and heard, that Antarctica retained Earth’s primitive link, however tenuous, with space, with the void that stretched out to Jupiter and Uranus. At the seabird rookeries of the Canadian Arctic or on the grasslands of the Serengeti, you can feel the vitality of the original creation; in the dry valleys you sense sharply what came before. The Archeozoic is like fresh spoor here.