Nature and what she does for “us”…

I have a long-standing fascination with how “nature” gets invoked, how the idea is mobilised to defend whatever people want to defend. First really really started thinking about this (I think) after reading the following quote by Julian Rathbone, from his novel “Zdt”

Wrong. Nature in the Middle Ages was a hierarchy, a chain of being, a pyramid from the many at the base to the One at the top. A description that mirrored the society that described it. For the first industrialists and the Age of Reason it was a machine, an engine, a thing of many distinct parts held together by checks and balances like the American Constitution, and expected to work like a clock or a factory. For Charles Darwin Junior, for AFI, Nature is a state of war, of endless ruthless competition between the strong, and repression and exploitation of the weak by the strong. But what is she really? An endlessly, incomprehensibly complex web of interactions, of dependencies in which the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of the parts, and where no parts are intrinsically more important than any of the others. Is that really what she is? Or is that Nature the way a socialist society might want to see her? Deep thoughts, and, of course, because of them, I lost the way…
page 290 of Zdt by Julian Rathbone

Well, here’s more, from the wonderful Alison Lurie, from her 1979 novel “Only Children,” set in 1935. Already the pathetic fallacy thing, of weather/nature reflecting moral climates is at play (is Lurie talking about the 70s as well?!)

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