Alan Watts: “What IS the essential difference between the world of nature and the world of man?”

It starts . . .

Nature is wiggly! Everything wiggles! . . . And for some reason or other we find wiggly things very difficult to “keep track of.” And we say, “Let’s get this straightened out.” And then somehow we think we understand things when we have translated them into straight lines and squares. Maybe that’s why they call rigid people “squares.”

But it doesn’t fit Nature.

. . .

When you see a flower in a field. It’s really the whole field flowering, not just the flower. Just so, I feel myself as a peopling of the whole universe. Like everything else, I feel myself as a center, a sort of aperture through which the whole universe is conscious of itself.

Every leaf, every weed, exists in the way it does only because everything else around it does. There’s a relationship between the center and the circumference. Without one, not the other.

. . .

Our failure to feel at home in the world is the result of an initial mistake in our thinking about the world. We are really too simple-minded to understand what we’re doing when we interfere with the natural world strongly, at scale. We are understanding it in terms of language, numbers, and a logic which is too simple, too crude for the job.

. . .

We go along in a single track. We have lamentably, one-track minds in an infinite-track universe. We may have to come to the conclusion that the universe is smarter than we are.


I mean, duh! Or, to paraphrase: “the map is NOT the territory,” and never will be; there’s no way we can identify and track every single teensy bit and piece wiggling in concert with all the others — not to mention all the frequency and atmospheric fields that appear to hold them together; we can’t identify “the” so-called “god-particle,” no matter how powerful our microscopes and telescopes. We have no idea how many dimensions intersect or run parallel and squish together with this one. All the “boundaries” we draw between one “thing” and another “thing” are artificial, man-made, constructed by pattern-seeking minds that constantly try, and fail, to squish the interwoven, interconnected, ever-changing squiggling plethora of plenitude.

Which is why, BTW, I see all talk prognosticating with “models” showing X number of “variables” about the future in terms of “climate change” — or anything else — as more or less imaginative fiction.

As Watts goes on to say, “we’re going to have learn how to leave Nature alone” — she knows what she’s doing. We don’t.

Which is why we permaculturists who attempt to mimic nature must at least subscribe to the first principle of permaculture: Observe (before you interact).

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0 Responses to Alan Watts: “What IS the essential difference between the world of nature and the world of man?”

  1. John Isaacs-Young says:

    Nature with a capital ‘N’ includes so much more than the vision of say, the deep green ecologists with their ‘web of life’ that reduces higher mind to biology.

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