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79 13 Nature When we go to the sequoia forests, the Andes in Patagonia, the Amazon jungles, the ice continent of Antarctica, when we dive the oceans and visit briefly the coral fish, when we soar on paragliders the winds and the sky, we go to visit realms unmarked by human hands, whose condensations , fault lines, membranes, and veins are not so many categories and relations constructed by us or by our culture. We look upon what is visible to the forty-five hundred species of mammals, ten thousand species of birds, twenty thousand species of fish, the between two and thirty million species of insects that are born and grow by themselves. We look at them and they look at us and we see something of what they see and how. Nature is seething, creeping, crawling, scuttling, swarming. A hectare of tropical jungle contains one hundred to three hundred species of trees;1 storms crash upon climax forests in never-logged jungles uprooting vast swaths of root-entangled trees; sunken ships are soon broken apart by underwater storms and encrusted with corals and gorgonians, the continental plates drift and collide. Millions of microorganisms are swarming past us in the transparent air. To go to nature is to leave stabilized and sedentary existence and enter into movement. Moving with the falling leaves in the autumn winds, ascending the mountains with the mists, drifting down the rivers under the wandering or gathering clouds. Moving with the herds of wildebeests , zebras, and impalas in the Serengeti. Not swimming, only steering with our fins in the ocean surge with the coral fish. To go to nature is to produce nothing, to manipulate nothing, to collect nothing. It is to greet the oryx and platypuses and hummingbirds and moths with passionate kisses of parting. Our minds no longer grasp, collate, appropriate , legislate; they become rushes and rhythms and flows. They join the birds in the sky. “Our own ideas move through the velvet cranial spaces as unpredictably as the passage of herons or the brief flash of a startled deer at twilight,” Paul Shephard wrote. “They flit through consciousness , . . . are attended to momentarily, and in a flash are gone.”2 ...


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