Becoming the Garden

There’s music, mathematics, and this:

Three things that are one, yet are culturally separate.

It is left for poets, I suppose, to bring them together in temporary assemblages, but that seems to be an instance of humans reading themselves upon the world. We could also say some fine cultural stuff, such as “the water brings the clouds and trees together,” or “it is an illusion of light,” or some such thing, but look:

It is not an aesthetic effect. It is a human capacity to allow the world to write itself upon human awareness and to be in this moment of writing.

In fact, it’s primary. Cities are also this writing upon the human body. One “lives” within them. This “living” is the moment of writing I mentioned above.

Kelowna the Bold, the Great Settler Colonial City 

One other piece of contemporary culture is that life within these spaces belongs to individuals, not the spaces, and that human bodies and souls are impervious to the effects of these environments. This is a beautiful, apocalyptic, Christian-based gothic romanticism, that I know from the orchards of my childhood. Here we are in the Similkameen back in the early 1970s, for example.

The Pear Block at Fairview Orchards

Hardy Sprayer with its own 3 cylinder engine and aircraft propeller to really spew those chemicals out.


We figured that human skin was impervious to chemicals back then. You could just wash the WWII nerve agents off. Nerve agents? Sadly. No-one wore a mask or protective clothing. The farmer across the road even smoked a cigarette, or chewed on it, rather, while spraying. It is an example of human hubris, and folly and ignorance, even, but it’s also a culturally-central image that reads the human body as separate, even magically so, from the world, embedded in the belief that humans make the world, rather than the other way around. Well, today, the idea of the anthropocene has captured the world’s imagination, especially in the context of the burning of the Amazon and the clearing of the world’s forests:

Source: dpa/Marcelo Sayao

Humans are writing themselves upon the world, big time, but make no mistake, the environment created in the above clearing in the Amazon, for example, is writing itself upon people just as rapidly as people are writing themselves upon it. By changing the environment, humans change themselves, and not in an aesthetic sense. And it’s not as simple as going out to nature, re-creating oneself, and returning to the city, and one’s life, because even that contains and strengthens the separation. Better, perhaps, to plant something, let it go its own way, and live in it.

The enjoyment of my front garden is that it is not for me. Slowly, it changes me into a garden. The process is enjoyable.


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