This is the first in what will be a series of twice-weekly posts in which, using both composition and poetry, I’ll question the possibility, explore the difficulty, and argue for the mobilization potential, of understanding the systems of Nature on a personal level.
If it is true, as many of us believe in our hearts, that Love of Nature (the victim) is a better guide than Fear for Humanity (the agent of harm) to lead us out of the extractivist nightmare we currently find ourselves in; and if it is also true, as indigenous cultures and this website take for granted, that our relationship with (and love for) the Natural world must furthermore be ‘personal’ (whether we wish to live ‘as one with’ Nature or ‘together with’ Nature); then it is a matter of the gravest urgency that we seek to bring this love to a brilliant focus within ourselves and others on the short timeline of the global warming and species extinction emergency.
Or to determine that we can’t, and redirect our efforts accordingly.
The view that Earth is our Mother underpins the choices of all hunter-gatherer cultures even today — that is, when their choices aren’t forced by contact with, and exploitation by, corporate interests from ‘outside’. And I’m sure we can all agree that this is the kind of love — for family, best friends, even sexual ‘love’ as the first bodily trigger for a passionate blending of selfhoods — that we’re thinking about when we say a love is personal.
But personal love, unlike love of philosophy, science, and other conceptual ‘ideas’, is also complicated. So how does a burgeoning global population of humans, who live mostly in cities now, transpose this personal level of passion to the whole of Life on Earth? To Nature, as a ‘system’? I think these more restricted experiences of love, or rather the ‘restricting of experiences’ — as when the sexual impulse ‘loses touch’ altogether with its youthful romantic affections — have confused many of us adults who now hold the fate of the Earth in our hands. And when we are required to look beyond the ‘persons’ in our immediate family or tribal group, we sometimes lose sight of love altogether. In a culture of ‘rugged individualism’ love might even be reduced to love of power, selfish pleasures, or possessions, and perhaps this is why the most passionate — or at least the loudest — aspiration in this final stage of Humanity’s ‘extractivist disease’ might be expressed by the words: “The individual with the most toys wins!” Did this collapsed shell of passion that’s feeding the climate-change and species extinction crises consuming our planet today come about in a McLuhanesque way? Because it can be argued convincingly that the love of material things, and the passion for personal power, have been gaining in ecocidal virulence since fifty-thousand years of verbal traditions steadily unraveled in the confusion of broader, and so-less-personal, media. The least that can be said is that we became human in a far less object-ified world, a world of exploring, vibrating, intimate contact; in other words, in an animal world.
But explaining our present circumstances in terms of history, or even mapping the road from here in socioeconomic details, is not the object of this exercise. Our quest will concern itself only with the engagement, and with the transposition, of passion itself.
If we are going to make this transformation, if Love of Nature really has the power to save us, then I suggest we must start in the only way we can: from where we are. We must stand in the most passionate place, even if it’s a narrow place, that we can imagine, and then we must take a journey from here: a journey outward, until we can finally see the vast cultural, biological, and cosmic expanses whence we came. For only then can we let go of our self-serving assumptions. Only from this vantage point can we know what Nature is; understand in Nature’s terms who we truly are; and envision, with whole-hearted open-handed coordination, where we might be going.
Such a Rising (or Love Lets Go) Such a rising of sensation To the presence of a woman In the silence. Such a blossoming of stories For the body to tell. Image, scent, movement, And invention. Oh what if? I watch From a very little distance. It doesn’t take much, if any distance Is disconnection. But I am connected by distance, By this reverential framing Of a person, Of myself, In another story, place, relationship. Desire blossoms, Awareness makes room, And love lets go.