River Otter Portrait
1 week ago
A discussion of poetic, ecological, synthetic, holistic world views - or lack thereof. In a world of fragmentation, isolation, and overindividualized pursuits, this is a place for the web of being.
"Our standard of living is better now than ever before, but technological progress comes with a dark underbelly. Human beings were not designed for this poorly nourished, sedentary, indoor, sleep-deprived, socially isolated, frenzied pace of life. So depression continues its relentless march."Although I have never suffered from clinical depression - that slough of despond into which no one wants to fall - I have been melancholic, low, blue, and even in despair many, many times. I have always resisted medication, primarily because I knew from my teens that if bad feelings can be triggered by certain environmental factors (darkness, isolation, stress), then they can be similarly alleviated by others. Ilardi is saying basically the same thing. Strangely enough, he cites the very things I have been using myself, and counselling others to use: a good diet, rich in omega-3 fatty acids (for the nerve cells, especially in the brain itself); sufficient sleep; the company of good people; satisfying activities for "flow" and just plain distraction from bad thoughts; and outdoor activity (sunshine, exercise).
Along with possible early abuse or genetic and biological components, Lockwood also spoke of the frequent association between environment and acts of violence, how poverty often creates the sense of persecution and injustice that makes some people feel justified in striking back in order to gain the sense of power and control they otherwise lack.Nobody in their right mind needs to be told that severe conditions (neglect, abuse, hunger, toxic and understimulating surroundings) tend to give rise to severe children. But it seems to be one of those items of common knowledge that no one wants to admit - if admitting means addressing it and fixing it. It means admitting to horrible living conditions in otherwise rich cities. It means admitting systemic cracks in certain cultures within cultures. For example, many poor boys join gangs because they have no fathers around to give them direction, no job prospects, and often no one to love them or accept them except gang members. But gang membership is a cruel kind of acceptance, involving the crushing of any innate empathy - as empathy is equated with weakness.
One thing is everythingI chose the blogspot name "poetryandecology" for a good reason. Both poetry & ecology are realms of connection. Ecology sees the interconnection of all life - from a relatively simple food web to certain complex genomic elements shared by many or most species. Poetry uses metaphors and symbols to form connection between ideas and images.
all things are One.
If you know only this, then
don't worry about attaining perfect knowledge
- Master Seng-ts'an
But we are not meant to be alone: The private events inside the brain depend, in larger part, on where we are and who we are with. It reminds me of something Nicholas Christakis, who studies human social networks along with James Fowler, recently told me: "The story of modern science is the story of studying ever smaller bits of nature, like atoms and neurons," he said. "But people aren't just the sum of their parts. I see this research as an attempt to put human beings back together again."Amen.
Dismissing the exinction crisis on the grounds that exinction is natural would be like dismissing genocide on the grounds that death is the natural fate of all humans.It is a crisis. And while some of the losses may indeed be "natural" (I will not hazard a proper definition of that here), most are the direct consequence of the actions of most adaptable and single-minded species on the planet, Homo sapiens. Our need to simplify the environment before we can inhabit it has led to deforestation, drained swamps, irrigated deserts, cleared mountains, introduced species of plants (e.g., crops or gardens) and animals (livestock, pets), and urbanization. If our numbers had remained small - the total human population didn't reach one billion until around the year 1800! - these "adjustments" would hardly show. But we have grown to an unsustainable size, and spread into almost every nook and cranny, changing as we go. The rest of the millions of species with which we share this finite space, and on which we depend, have to accommodate us. Adapt or perish. When are enough people going to wake up and see the connections?