Thursday, April 30, 2009

Healing Nature

It is man's destiny to clear-cut every forest he bumps into. The reason is quite simple: Forests are not sylvan temples where we go to worship nature; they are dark and evil places where ogres, trolls, witches, flesh-devouring wolves and property owning bears dwell. They are places where human life is sucked dry and enfolded into the forest floor.

Hansel and Gretel didn’t meet the witch at Williams-Sonoma; they met her in the forest! The wolf didn’t hit on Little Red Riding Hood at the mall; he hit on her in the forest:

The only way to grow a crop in the forest is to destroy it; the only way to make a profit is to pave it. You chop down the smaller trees, gird the big ones and wait for them to die. It is not until they are gone and only a barren field is left that life as we know it can begin.

Conrad Richter’s novel The Fields follows the life of a late eighteenth century family’s battle against the forest as they clear a small field in which they plant their crops. He is how one character reacts to the forest:

All around, you could feel the woods swarming and crowding, butt to butt, with branches matted and braided, all shrouded with moss, older than the wild bulls’ trail and dark as midnight, running on and on a slew of miles you couldn’t count, over hills and bottoms and soft oozy swamps, north to the English Lakes and west to the big prairies. That was the power of woods at night to feel around you.

It was good to come out in her own clearing where it still had some light left and to tramp clear of the trees. The only thing left of the big butts in here was their stumps, and that was the best part, for the stumps couldn’t shut you in, and you could grow life-giving crops around them. ..They made a pleasing sight to a settler; for the best way such liked the trees was down, with their arms slashed off and ready for burning. The sweetest sound to a human deep in these woods was the hard whack of the axe, cutting or splitting, trimming or hewing, ringing a long ways through the timber until all the trees around knew what was coming.

Nature is a fucking mess and it is our destiny to scrub her clean and sanitize her until she is fit for human habitation. Nature is where disease grows, where the stench of rotting death fills the air, and where evil mists hug the hollows as the night air warms. Nature is an orgy of life that stifles human progress and ingenuity. It is a place “red in tooth and claw” where human domination is the only possible road to peace and stability.

We must wring order out of nature even if it leads to our extinction, for it is far better to die a glorious extinction in the name of progress then to lead a life of sloth and indolence fed by nature’s harvest.

--Belacqua Jones

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