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7th September 2014

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On intentionality in natural systems

[S]ystems, and especially a system as vast as Gaia, are all but impossible to discuss without employing purposive language. One asks why something behaves as it does within a system, and the answer automatically comes out “in order to.” The parts within a system act as if they had a sense of the whole. We have no other intelligible way to discuss such matters. Critics might argue that we are committing the empathic fallacy by reading intentionality into nature. They overlook the possibility that, first of all, nature has read intentionality into us. We see what it was given to us to see.

Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology (1992)

Tagged: booksnatureecologysystemssystems theoryGaiaphilosophyecophilosophyTheodore Roszak

4th June 2014

Post reblogged from lol my thesis with 167 notes

Terrence Malick films have a lot of trees in them


Film, University of Southampton

Philosophising Through Film: Reflections on Nature and Humanity in the Films of Terrence Malick

Tagged: treesnaturefilmsfilmmakingmoviesTerrence Malick

1st May 2014

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The goshawk takes a bath

Gos cocked his head on one side and stared at the water. Odd, he was saying to himself, probably dangerous, but yet I like it. What is it? He put in his beak, leaning forward with every precaution, to see what it tasted of. (Hawks were one of the few creatures which did not regularly drink water except as a laxative: none needed to be provided for them in the mews.) It did not taste of anything, so he put in his beak again. Curious. He looked over his shoulder at the bigger bit of the stuff behind him, roused his feathers with a rattle, inspected the reeds, the landing stage, me motionless. He thought of flying to the landing stage, less than a yard away, and then gave up the idea. He walked down the slope of the plank into the water. All the time I did not know whether he would accept a bath or not.

T. H. White, The Goshawk (1951)

Tagged: bookswritingbirdshawksfalconrywaternatureanimalsliteraturenature writingT. H. White

12th April 2014

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The brutes and the vegetables

If you put God outside and set him vis-à-vis his creation and if you have the idea that you are created in his image, you will logically and naturally see yourself as outside and against the things around you. And as you arrogate all mind to yourself, you will see the world around you as mindless and therefore not entitled to moral or ethical consideration. The environment will seem to be yours to exploit. Your survival unit will be you and your folks or conspecifics against the environment of other social units, other races and the brutes and the vegetables.

If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your chances of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic by-products of your own hate, or simply, of over population and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.

If I am right, the whole of our thinking about what we are and what other people are has got to be restructured. This is not funny, and I do not know how long we have to do it in.

Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972

Tagged: booksecologynaturesurvivalfuturismphilosophyGregory Batesonenvironment

20th March 2014


Such a pretty hen

On the edge of the road, a small, plump hen walked purposefully along, her head extended and her feet clambering over the stones. She was such a pretty hen, her plumage edged in white, as though she’d powdered herself before she’d stepped out of the house. She hopped down onto the grassy verge and, without looking left or right, raced across the road, then stopped, re-adjusted her wings, and made a clear line for the cliff.

Claire Keegan, Walk the Blue Fields (Faber & Faber, 2007)

Tagged: booksbirdsnaturehensIrelandClaire KeeganIrish literatureshort stories

24th February 2014

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The flutter of leaves

There was an overall smell but you could separate them out the way a prism separated light. There was a smell of bark, of green branches, of nettles, of dung, of fresh earth, and stinking earth, of fungi and the Elder flower that grew profusely and was one of the chief components for the home-made wine…

The flutter of the leaves brought on your trance. Hundreds of thousands of sycamore leaves all obeying the same wind, their wide green palms opening then tightening, letting in and keeping out the light changing the prospect from indoor to outdoor to indoor, forever altering. It was the most lonesome hour just before dusk with all the colours going, all the streamers, the pinks and reds, and violets and indigoes and blues, the lovely laneways of vanquishing light.

Edna O’Brien, A Pagan Place (1970). One of the best novels about childhood (and memory, and Ireland) that I’ve ever read.

Tagged: booksreadingIrelandIrish literatureliteratureEdna O'Briennaturetreessmelllight

17th February 2014

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An old folk belief in Ireland held that there were 12 different winds and each had a different colour. (Also, pigs can see the wind, and it’s red.)

Tagged: IrelandfolklorewindnaturepigscolourIrish folklore

22nd January 2014

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Owls have many names in Irish, including:

ceann cait – “cat head”
coileach oidhche – “night cock”
scréachán reilge – “graveyard screecher”

Tagged: owlsbirdstranslationIrishIrelandGaeilgenaturelanguage

18th December 2013

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Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Robert Frost

Tagged: poetrypoemscrowbirdsnature poetrynatureRobert Frostsnowtree

28th November 2013

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An egg is a pleasant thing to contemplate

In Ireland a woman could raise hens and sell the eggs. Of course there were fights. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law disputing control of the hens, and some of those disputes were vicious; but still an egg is a pleasant thing to contemplate, warm in a straw nest, carrying all that power and history.

Angela Bourke, ‘Le Soleil et le Vent’, in By Salt Water

Tagged: writingbooksstoriesnaturefarmingeggsAngela BourkeIrish literatureshort stories