Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cultivation and Reduxion....

The San Francisco Chronicle aka has a pair of articles that work well together. The first is an article about Stanford Professor Robert Pogue Harrison (ever notice that some people just have cool middle names that work -- and they have to be distinct to work) laments in a new book "Gardens: An essay on the Human Condition" where he laments on the rise of consumerism is destroying the ethic of cultivation, something that gardens bring out in people the true source of human happiness. To quote:

"We live in a kind of frenzy of consumerism which forgets that the true source of human happiness is not in the consuming but in the cultivation, in seeing something grow, or caring for something that is not yourself. And I don't know how much we teach the young this ethic of caring for something that is not yourself. Or even caring for things such as an object or a plant. Consumption and cultivation are at war with each other.

I think RPH is onto something, but I think he misses it by focusing on gardens and cultivation. I think there is something more in the act of creation. I may not be a gardener, but I do enjoy cooking almost as much as going out to eat. The act of creation or cultivation involves an implicit knowledge that there are wrong turns involved in ones efforts and that those wrong turns are part of our experience and knowledge. Consumerism focuses on the product and neglects the importance the process. When we focus on the final product, the instantaneous satisfaction of our desire, we deny ourselves the joyful tension of anticipation. The courting is as much of the experience as the consummation. Which is a family friendly way of leading into the other article in SFGate, and that is a column titled "Stay home, read, have sex: Will insane gas prices finally pummel us into evolving? How bad will it get?" by Mike Morford.

Morford wonders about the transformation of the way we live as a result of the end of cheap oil. While he doesn't explicitly say it, will it force us back onto the process of creation instead of the act of consumption. The words of the column are great, but the plethora of links embedded in the article make it a fantastic survey of the oil crunch.

Will the environment (that's with a little e, the place we live in) force a change for the Environment (big E)? Will the death of the instant lead to reflection, humility and compassion or instead lead to frustration, violence and anger. It can go either way, it really can.


At 10:56 AM , Blogger Dianna Miguez said...

i think this is why there has been such an upswing in DIY and crafting, because the average person no longer gets the satisfaction of creation and production in their normal lives. think of how many people never cook from scratch; bake a loaf of bread from scratch and bring it into the office, people will respond like you have a mysterious magical ability.


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