Our Story

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

TS Eliot, Little Gidding

In the beginning, after the big bang and the formation of the earth and living beings, human beings emerged embedded in the dream of nature. There was no differentiation.

Gradually there emerged language and groupings of people.

There were some societies where the connection with nature remained strong, where language worked in consort with the one, where men and women each brought their own strengths to that cooperation with others and with the one. They developed wonderful creativity in their cave paintings, and a wonderful science that enabled them to comprehend and relate to the cosmos through great stone constructions. They told stories that passed through the generations, passing on archetypal knowledge, lessons of experience to each new generation.

With the coming of written language, some feared that the knowledge of connection would be lost. They wrote it down, hidden away for when ignorant barbarians came, which surely they did.Read More »

Taking Appearance Seriously

The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought

by Henri Bortoft

taking appearance seriouslyThis challenging book explains where Western thinking went wrong, and points the way towards the revolution in thinking that is needed to get back on track.

I read it on Kindle some time ago, probably not wise for such an erudite work, but it did make it easy to recall a lot of key points by downloading my highlights.

Almost by definition, this is difficult reading, because it does not ‘come from’ the place where Western thinking habitually does these days.

Henri Bortoft has a good shot at making this understandable to such as myself, with an interest in philosophy but no great training or professional expertise. It is of course inspired by the thinking of Goethe, one of the giants of our intellectual history.

I’ve included my edited notes in the following, which may help to give an appreciation of the staggering scope of this book and of Goethe’s thinking. But there is no escape from the effort of reading the book itself if you want to understand its quite revolutionary message.Read More »

The Environment

The language we use shows what we care about. When we talk about the natural world, notably in the media, there is that psychological distancing by using the term ‘the environment’, as if it were something out there to be exploited and controlled. People who care about the natural world and point to facets of the natural world that are being degraded, polluted, driven to extinction and so on are disparagingly referred to as ‘environmentalists’, as if they were somehow inexplicable activists for some impossible ideal state.

It is only the logical left brain that can act in this way. When right brain is engaged we cannot but help be in connection and empathy with the natural world, so that it really matters, just as much as our human artifacts, jobs, economies and so on.

The Paris climate accord was a left brain agreement which concluded that something must be done to stop the threat posed by global warming to this great left brain civilisation.

Thus, the species extinctions, increasing denatured environments, desertification and pollution are only treated seriously when perceived to be a threat to this left brain world. Otherwise, species and ecological communities can go hang, just like the dodo. Only the right brain grieves.

The need is clear. We are a part of nature, we are nature. We know that when we engage full faculties. There is no separate ‘environment’ – we are the natural world, we are it and slowly, in our technological trance, we are setting about trashing ourselves and our future.

It’s time to wake.

To quote Christopher Fry from a different context:

But will you wake for pity’s sake!

Featured image including dodo by Sir Thomas Herbert (d. 1682), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons