A Home Before the End of the World

ligozziA Marmot with a Branch of Plums, Jacopo Ligozzi  (1547–1627)

from an essay by Adelheid Fischer

‘Does it matter that so many of the stories we tell take place in some ecological make-believe, where plants and animals are treated as little more than the living wallpaper of a stage set for human actions or as interchangeable ciphers for conveying life lessons?

Theresa Smith, an ethnographer of the northern tribe of Ojibwe Indians, writes that native people “observed the natural world with great care and precision because an accurate understanding of one’s environment was essential to one’s very survival. These people were neither vague nor romantic in their descriptions of the world, and their complex understanding of natural phenomena is reflected in their language.”

In an essay on naming, Paul Gruchow writes that we are “at precisely that moment in our history when we fear that our very lives may depend upon how well we understand nature and our own responsibilities and limits within it.”

Names are the alphabetic fragments with which we build a language of knowing. And knowing opens up the possibility of caring, the root of which is the Old English cearu, which means to guard or watch, “to trouble oneself.” In the face of the planetary holocaust, troubling ourselves is nothing short of an ethical charge  … It means swearing a pledge of allegiance to the particulars of the world …’   ….



“Just as language has no longer anything in common with the thing it names, so the movements of most of the people who live in cities have lost their connexion with the earth; they hang, as it were, in the air, hover in all directions, and find no place where they can settle.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

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