Arne Næss was a Swedish philosopher who helped launch the Deep Ecology movement, a system of understanding the inter-relatedness of all things not unlike the Tibetan sense of intervidualization, where an entity can be seen as a piece of a large system, a person taking an important diminished role in a larger ecosystem. You look at a tangerine and know the farmer, who knew the soils, which fell from stars, and so on, mingled with flowing waters, time and gravity.
A rock, a breeze, a person, perception arises spontaneously and adequately as the simple joy of recognizing the shape of a sea shore, while at the same time, the cocooning mythologies and symbols within which our environment are abstracted are reflection within which humans communicate. If we can use real, spontaneously arising, naturally occurring things as symbols, while removing the anthropomorphic imperative – that these things are here because of us, as extensions of pragmatic desire – then the contrast between the mineral, the flowering, the breathing, the semantic kingdoms of our world arise in greater harmony.
It is not enough that the sea meet the land? It is not enough that the dust settles upon the mountains, that the smile plays across the face of a child nestled within a beautiful woodland area, among bees in the meadow? Is the joyful awareness of a sense of harmony in the natural world enough?
Arne Næss tried to helped the world move towards this “deep ecology”, as John Muir did, as “environmentalists” did and Polly Higgins continues to do today. People who act as the voice the natural world speak to people who were then and are still now inclined to abstract nature as a form and extension of the ego. Pragmatic and self-centered, Western philosophy tends to view the person as the center of the whole. The universe revolved around them. The king was needy of power. Indeed, God-in-man demanded an egocentric relationship with the world. Such emptiness, according to particle physicists, is what everything primarily is, and ecocide is the promise of emptiness, of entropy. I think this emptiness (what’s the body but a donut torsoid with a anus/mouth hole?) bothers people, gets them worked up and makes them want to rearrange the world according to the inner landscapes of the imagination that promise a sense of order and satiety that one loses when the ontological shift from living in a natural world shifts to living in a world of abstracted meaning projected upon the environment. What is the purpose of a rock? Does it need a purpose? Do I need a purpose, or may I be human and alive? If I find joy in that, may I share it? What’s the point in hoarding it away? If I’m connected to everything why on earth would I assume such a thing were possible?
But such work, to transform the world into an artifice that reflects this astonishing lack of understanding. Our monuments, our squares and heaps of forgotten empires, why?
For example, look at the suburban lawn. Like a hologram, I see the ecocide of the planet within the confines of the manipulated environment of the suburban lawn, atomized, a prime example. People would clear their land of all but grass, but not for any use. It’s just for looks. Dandelions, wild onions gone. Those are edible, nutritious plants, but they’re removed. Smooth, featureless, reduced to an aesthetic feature, a color. Cutting the land away from you…cutting the grass itself is a cutting of the world. And weeds? Too lazy to pull them from their soils, from their origins? Poisons, industry invites in a substantial technological force to maintain this crucial blindness. And then put a fence up, place your genetically-bred weirdly disorganized ornamentation, gimpy plants and sneezing, shitting sad housepets upon the grass. Under the sun, the daystar, our hubris for all to see. Cutting your lawn is an ontological separation. The rest of the world is hiding in that cut grass. In that featureless surface lurks the need for the metal for the lawnmower, the need to feed the petrol employees digging the crude from ocean beds, disturbing vast natural habitats so that you may walk (watch the fresh turds from your house animals) to the edge of your lawn and compare its relative “order” to that of the neighbor, who is compelled to do the same useless, senseless task upon the ground called property. The earth trembles in the vast emptiness of space. It’s ridiculous. Lou Reed mentioned if we colonized Mars, we’d put parking lots there. How banal and sad to think of getting a parking ticket on Mars.
Repeat this like a cancer. Repeat this in the market. This is not necessarily our destiny, to want to place all our weeping upon the tired backs of our lesser stocks, to “change the world”. It is this antithesis to the natural world which, in our passion to critique our own aesthetic desires, that we have allowed to grow a need to perpetuate a system that is out-of-balance and dispassionately removed from reality and responsibility.
The flower, the breeze, the dust on the mountain, the lullaby of the sea, are consolations to our loneliness. In nature, no one is truly alone. At night, when the sheltering sky’s blue light scatters away and the deeper “world” of our existence is revealed, I often feel as though I’m holding on to reality like a bat, gripped by gravity’s toes thrust up through my spirit, and I may fly away, in a gentle way, into the deeper aether.
When I go running, when I paint, I am in accord with inspiration which animate my tissue. I feel sometimes the cellular unity of my tissues is an expression of this intervidualization, that greater sense of unity arises from deeper ecologies within me, the flora in my gut, the organization of my substance into functions, organs, liquids and crystals are expressions of this accord.
We don’t need to destroy the world, to interfere with the root of our world. To do so is cowardice, to hide from our required stewardship.
Anyways, Arne Næss helped place Greenpeace into our collective mind for a reason. He was answering a Call to the Mountain. And apparently he also worked for the Swedish counter-intelligence group XU and fought the Nazis, which was pretty cool. The Nazis thrived upon ignorance and cowardice. Life is more playful, more joyful than that. Diversity, inclusiveness and deeper love of the natural world is to realize poverty in nature is the only fiction, and should be a bad time to pass through, gracefully if possible.
Out of this need to be big, to do something significant… has come tromping with heavy boots all our sadness and struggle arisen, tromping and stomping through the ages, through the Age of Discovery (seriously, is there any other age?). Who discovered who? But there is a difference when you realize the mountain is great not because it is a heap of minerals, but that it is, like a root, a beginning of the waters of life, a place where Shiva’s trident may rake the earth with power, and not rake leaves to be bagged within the polymerized carcasses of the trees’ ancestry. The mountain is great because it is empty, and the ocean carries all mountains away, in every drop of rain.
Germany makes money, incidentally, by importing garbage from other countries. That is the zeitgeist of the age, to reverse this trashing of our hearts. I miss Germany, my German friends. Just saying. No disresepct. I don’t like cutting my grass on a deeper level. I’d rather let it live.
One Reply to “Call of the Mountain”
Fantastic! Thanks for sharing!