Thursday, September 27, 2012

Evolutionary Alienation

What do you mean by that? you ask. Crudely put, we evolved in a world surrounded by plants and animals. We’re now headed pell-mell into cities where plants and animals are largely absent. And so we no longer fell at home. We’re alienated. We miss our friends and companions.

And we’re not going to find them by cruising the web or watching CGI movies.

Do you actually believe that? you ask. How the hell would I know? says I, I just thought of it.

What made you think of it?

Two things: cartoons and community gardens.

How so?

Cartoons because they emerged in the USofA just when people were rushing from the country-side to the cities and they were full of funny animals up through the 50s and into the 60s. In 1900 60% of the population was rural; it had dropped to 25% by 1980. On the correlation with funny animal cartoons, see Akira Lippit, Electric Animal, and Paul Wells, The Animated Bestiary. I’ve also discussed this in some of my posts on Dumbo.

As for gardens, I’m thinking of the garden where I volunteer, The Lafayette Community Learning Garden, and my own response to it and the responses of others. I’m also thinking about the proliferation of such gardens across the nation. I’m also thinking of studies—no citations at had, sorry—that have shown that people in the hospital get well more quickly if they can see greenery out the window.

So, maybe not “evolutionary alienation,” not quite, not like that. But if you start there and look at cartoons, gardens, and lots of other things, you’ll come up with something interesting.


  1. In a Landscape

    In a landscape that is nearly totally urban, just by the freeway, a pond, rushes, a wild duck, small trees. Those who pass on the road feel at that sight a kind of relief, though they would not be able to name it.

    -- Czeslaw Milosz