Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Notes for a commonplace book (20)

Robin Wall Kimmerer:
I am trying to understand what it means to own a thing, especially a wild and living being. To have exclusive rights to its fate? To dispose of it at will? To deny others its use? Ownership seems a uniquely human behavior, a social contract validating the desire for purposeless possession and control.

To destroy a wild thing for pride seems a potent act of domination. Wildness cannot be collected and still remain wild. Its nature is lost the moment it is separated from its origins. By the very act of owning, the thing becomes an object, no longer itself.
Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses

(Kimmerer, a biologist who specializes in the ecology of mosses, describes in the chapter from which the above is taken how she was commissioned by an unnamed wealthy landowner to consult on an "ecosystem restoration project" on his estate, an undertaking that turned out to involve more vandalism of nature than restoration of it.)

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