Farming and Art: Ancient Sisters

I was walking along the old water canal the other day, and then up the ravine and along the coyote track across the top of the vineyard, and I saw this…

P1360254Industrial Plantations, Bella Vista

Those are apples in the background and grapes up front.

I realized in a flash that this technology, the one I came to light in on this earth, is not farming. It is an industrial process. These are factories. So many changes have occurred, slow step by slow step, to the ancient art and intellectual traditions of agriculture, and have become so swept up by new scientific metaphors, that it has been easy to confuse this new technical activity with the old traditions it replaced, or even to insist on a continuum with ancient practices, just now with better tech. That has been a mistake. This is not farming. These are plants arranged to meet the needs of machinery.


Don’t get me wrong: this is not farming either, over in the ravine…

P1360234November Choke Cherries that the Bear Forgot

So many times it is said today that farming is the human activity with the greatest impact on the planet, and then the argument is dismissed because of the necessity of farming for contemporary food supply networks. That, too, is an error. This is not farming …


… but it is the production of food. The two things are not the same. Here’s a thought. You know the beauty of skeletons, right, the bones in perfect proportions, the exquisite physics at play?


Cat and Skeleton Source

Notice the beautiful tension caught in Its hind legs and the perfect arc of its front ones.

This is a story told as science, and is often used to explain evolutionary processes as solving technical problems the most efficiently. Fine enough, but, well, what if they were not  technical processes per se, but artistic ones?

easterhorseIcelandic Horse on Easter Morning

A perfect creature of the grasslands, or an artwork?

Well, both at the same time, I expect. A separation between art and technical usefulness is precious and given the state of the Earth, self-indulgent. Might it not be that when humans find the art in land use again, farming will re-surface from the ruins? For instance, is this light a random act, based upon the angles of the hills and of no consequence …

P1320637… or it is an unbalanced photograph of the land that leads to apples without sugars, which must be industrially marketed instead of celebrated with the joy that life and food from the earth brings to human bodies, because no one would accept them otherwise? And to think, I was just walking along the ravine one day, when it stopped me in my tracks, step by step. First, this…

P1360237Red Delicious Apple Seedling Making a Break for It

A note on that tree: if men from the government find this tree, they will cut it down, because it might harbour pests that could damage the industrial viability of the food factories next door. You can only get to that point of arrogance if you believe that life is a random event, much like light spilling over a hill and showing us the way. So much of the contemporary world is like that now: what has been forgotten is described as random, and dismissed. No, it’s not random. It is only unknown. What there is is only a failure of language. There are, still, old words for it: farming, for one. Art for another. In this context, an artistic or literary education is of immense practical use. A technical one can be used to bring art forward over the  hundred years of its neglect.

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