Tag Archives: anthrozoology

B is for biophilia

Biophilia is an idea that the classic Harvard biologist Edward O Wilson wrote about in the 80s. He described biophilia as our instinctive affinity for “nature”; a panhuman, subconscious yearning to return to our roots. I try to be careful using the word nature, because of course we are, in fact, of nature, and being unseparated from it makes it impossible to bend towards it.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

So like modernist poetry snapped out of traditional rules for verse, there’s a sort of self governing system suggested in the biophilia hypothesis: that things disturbed try to go back to their natural state. Ecostruck theories in the 70s about self governing “vegetative” communities didn’t really work in practice, though – systems didn’t return to their “balanced” states. There wasn’t a “balance” to begin with. And commune projects in the California deserts were failing badly at the same time – because a few individuals wrested power over the group. People inevitably get pissed off with each other. We need space, not systems. Please watch this.

Someone I read recently, and I’m unfortunately damned if I can remember who, wrote that we’re eventually more entropomorphic than anthropomorphic – our nature is to scatter, “to move through the environment like animals in the jungle..[Wolfgang Haug]. We animals are not like crystals that organise themselves perfectly every time. Living things are complex and chaotic, mutable not immutable.

Biophilia is also an interactive multimedia project by Bjork. It’s an app built out of a 10-track album, with video and stuff that you can recreate. This made me think about biophilia vs technophilia, and whether interacting with our computers all the time will eventually remove us from “nature” entirely. What do you think? You getting enough lols in your room, or do you want to go jungle?

This is excellent: Biophilia &Technophilia: Examining the Nature/Culture Split in Design Theory

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A is for animism

Animism is a belief system (ontology) based on the completely outlandish notion that human animals and nonhuman animals have shared ancestry.

Outlandish huh. OK. In another way, animism is believing that your grandmother was a bear. Or that all bears are your grandparents.

Some people believe that all things, even rocks, rivers and clouds, have a spirit. They believe that humans are not the only people. Anything can be a person if it has a self or soul.

I have been trained as a scientist, and while I am not a great scientist, my training, and my postdomestic way of being means I am unable to fathom certain ways of thinking. Even as a child I would never have imagined that my gran could be a bear. I have also never had semiconscious conversations with animals. People in pre-domestic societies claim this happens all the time.


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