Part not Apart.

All snuffly and foggy and groggy with a cold, I have a question. Or two.

When did we begin to see ourselves as separate from nature?


I don’t have the answer.

Although I do have a wish. A wish that we find our way home.

And because tonight, I can’t quite seem to find words with which to answer such a big question, I’ll leave you with T.S. Eliot and come back to this in a little while.

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.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

P.S. If anyone has any thoughts on this,  I’d really love to hear from you.

6 thoughts on “Part not Apart.

  1. Thanks Fabian! This is great. The connection to Renaissance art is because – as I understand it – linear and mathematical perspective as devised during that period.

  2. The world works in mysterious ways and coincidentally, last night I started to write a blog piece last night on the ‘Fall from Eden’ (in light of thoughts about Amy Winehouse and addiction – but that’s another story) however it all felt a bit too, well, ‘Big’. As I refreshed my memory about the story of Adam and Eve and remembered that taking a bite out of the apple meant that Adam & Eve were banned from Eden and the Tree of Life which could provide them immortality etc etc etc. Big questions KL, of consciousness, awareness, language and the power of myth. Rich food for thought. Catch up for a cup of chai, and to continue this conversation in person, soon?

  3. In one culture, this moment has been mythologized as the Fall from Eden. When the obtaining of knowledge gave us the ability to judge one thing as good and another as bad & therefore things as separate. Until then, according to this myth, we were one with nature and lived in Eden. So what happened in actuality when metaphorically we ate the apple of the tree of knowledge? Was this the beginning of language? The ability to name a thing and therefore separate it out? Or self awareness? In the West, much of our relationship to nature – as something to control or dominate – comes from judeo-Christian worldview.

    Would write more, but am on my iPhone 🙂

  4. Hmm, I’m not sure if I really get the connection to renaissance art (I feel there’s something to it, but I cannot really pin it down)… but the shift of perspective to “inside looking out” instantly reminded me of a couple of posts by David of Raptitude about Douglas Harding. I haven’t read Harding’s work yet, but he discussed this problem quite thoroughly, it seems. Here is a link, if you’re interested:

  5. Ah, Fabian the Friendly Anarchist, many thanks for taking the time to think about this and to respond.

    Yes, of course, I’m sure there are cultures – particularly indigenous ones – that are much more connected to nature than most of the world. And I’m interested in your comment about separating out the divine. Whether that results in an inevitable separation from nature. I will gives some thought to that.

    Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about Renaissance (and pre-Renaissance art) and perspective. And the point at which we were able to accurately illustrate or represent something from the perspective of the outside looking in. The outside looking in. I wonder how it would feel, if we were to shift our perspective and find our place on the inside, looking out…

    Glad you enjoyed the poem 🙂

  6. I wouldn’t say this perception is universal, and it happened/happens at different places and at different times. There are still indigenous cultures that perceive themselves as part of the Earth, and the Earth as their highest Goddess.

    This would suggest that once we separate the divine from the human sphere, we might also separate the human sphere from nature. And this is, of course, a process of differentiation that’s thousands of years old.

    But, as I said, monistic/pantheistic/animistic points of view have been living on. Without being an expert, some hinduistic traditions could probably provide a good example.

    Anyway, this would definitely take some more time for me to think about. In the meantime, thanks for sharing this post and the wonderful poem! 🙂

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