222222 Saddest Music in the World is a project conceived in October 2009 as a consequence of a massive land expropriation imposed by the state (Lombardy region) to the land owners and land inhabitants.
The expropriation is a long and painful bureaucratic process that not just takes away forever the natural home of plants animals and humans but also modifies and destroys in a irreversible way the native landscape with all its particular and unique geological aspects. In this transitory environment a group of artists realized a specific project as a manifestation of dissent, as a reaction to an unwanted situation. All the gestures are a “mise en scene” of the relation between man and his environment, the natural and the artificial merge into a series of visions. Each art practice generates ideas and dreams, raises new possibilities for confrontation and the understanding of humans.

222222

THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD e' un luogo temporaneo fatto di ambienti suburbani e situazioni relazionali periferiche. Uno spazio ibrido dove il mix di pratiche epressive si inserisce nei luoghi della devastante politica del territorio.

Archivio blog

FAKING THE LANDSCAPE

CON TEMPORARY HILLS

http://www.exposedproject.net/en/serena-porraticon-temporary-hills

A similar case/Un caso simile INCENDIO GRIGIO http://www.exposedproject.net/incendio-grigio/

Ambiguo è lo sfruttamento del territorio ed ambigua è la storia di questa strada di 6 corsie lungo un nastro d’asfalto di 32 chilometri, 70 mila veicoli al giorno e 37 chilometri di strade secondarie tra Ipermercati, nuovi zone residenziali, capanonni abbandonati e capannoni nuovi di zecca, la crisi che porta alla delocalizzazione della logistica e alla riconsiderazione urbana. i dati pubblici e poco studiati dai media affermano che la lombardia sia già una delle regioni più inquinate al mondo, Intorno alla metropoli è già presente una dotazione autostradale paragonabile alle grandi metropoli europee, la regione metropolitana di londra, l’ile de france o la ruhur, mentre e agli posti per estensioni ferroviara . le montagne favoriscono la concentrazione di inquinanti e nella sola pianura padana, 7000 persone perdono la vita ogni anno per gli inquinanti. Mentre dagli ospedali pubblici del milanese arrivano notizie drammatiche , di aumenti di malattie auto immuni che raggiungono picchi del 30 % , negli under trenta. Ma si continua a costruire perchè 2 miliardi di euro fanno gola ai soliti noti, e soprattutto tra quelli che non sono già ad aspettare le arancie. I cantieri, caduta la resistenza, ora sono più o meno accessibili, ” vota bossi” gridano gli operai. Gli insospettabili ora sono forti , l’opera porta lavoro, l’opera porta pogresso e a modo suo ci porta dritti nel cuore del europa. E la censura della retorica colpisce il pensiero critico, tramortisce innocenti che ritrovano la propria abitazione in mezzo a cantieri perenni, suggerisce ad agricoltori di cambiare la propria produzione in più redittizi autogrill.

Un nuovo spirito del tempo


Che razza di mondo festeggerà il millesimo
anniversario della Magna Carta,
il documento sui diritti dei cittadini
d’Inghilterra che re Giovanni Senza
Terra dovette firmare nel 1215? Dipenderà
da ciò che facciamo oggi. E le
prospettive non sono buone. La prima edizione critica
della Magna Carta fu pubblicata nel 1759 dal giurista
inglese William Blackstone, la cui opera costituì la fonte
del diritto costituzionale degli Stati
Uniti d’America. Si intitolava The Great
Charter and the Charter of the Forest, La
Magna Carta e la Carta della Foresta.
Entrambi i documenti hanno ancora
oggi grande rilevanza. Il primo, cioè la
carta della libertà, è la pietra miliare dei
diritti fondamentali dei popoli di lingua
inglese, cioè – nella de!nizione di Winston
Churchill – “la carta di ogni uomo
che si rispetti in ogni paese e in ogni tempo”.
Nel 1679 la Magna Carta venne integrata
dalla legge sull’habeas corpus, la
“legge per meglio garantire la libertà del suddito e per
prevenire l’incarcerazione oltremare”. La sua versione
moderna, più aspra, è la rendition, cioè il rapimento a
!ni di tortura praticato in questi anni dal governo degli
Stati Uniti.
Anche il principio fondamentale della “presunzione
di innocenza” ha ricevuto recentemente un’interpretazione
originale. Nei calcoli e"ettuati per redigere
la kill list di terroristi voluta dal presidente Barack Obama,
“tutti i maschi da servizio militare presenti in una
zona di attacco” sono conteggiati come combattenti
“a meno che informazioni esplicite non dimostrino in
via postuma la loro innocenza”. Oggi per salvaguardare
il sacro principio basta questa dimostrazione d’innocenza
postuma. Ecco il migliore esempio dello
smantellamento della “carta di ogni uomo che si rispetti”.
L’altro documento, la Carta della Foresta, è forse
oggi ancora più importante. La Carta invocava la protezione
dei commons, o beni comuni, da ogni potere
esterno. I commons erano la fonte di sostentamento
della popolazione, il suo combustibile, il suo cibo, il
suo materiale da costruzione. Ma la foresta non era un
deserto: era coltivata e curata in comune; le sue ricchezze
erano a disposizione di tutti e venivano tutelate
per le generazioni future. Ma nel diciassettesimo secolo
la Carta della Foresta era ormai caduta vittima
dell’economia mercantile. Non più protetti per un uso
cooperativo, i beni comuni furono limitati a ciò che
non poteva essere privatizzato, e questa de!nizione si
restringe ogni giorno sotto i nostri occhi. Il mese scorso
la Banca mondiale ha stabilito che la multinazionale
mineraria Paci!c Rim può portare avanti il suo procedimento
contro il Salvador che ha tentato di difendere
terre e comunità dall’attività estrattiva dell’oro,
che è molto distruttiva. La tutela dell’ambiente impedirebbe
alla multinazionale di realizzare pro!tti in futuro,
e questo è un crimine contro i diritti dell’investitore,
erroneamente chiamati “libero mercato”. Questo
è solo un esempio delle lotte in corso in
gran parte del mondo.
Elinor Ostrom aveva vinto il Nobel
per l’economia nel 2009 con la sua opera
in cui ha dimostrato la superiorità dei
beni comuni gestiti dai loro utenti. Ma lo
smantellamento della Carta della Foresta
e dell’idea di bene comune è stato
accompagnato in questi secoli dall’idea
che gli esseri umani siano ciecamente
animati da ciò che all’alba della rivoluzione
industriale i lavoratori statunitensi
chiamavano “il nuovo spirito del tempo,
conquistare ricchezze dimenticando tutto salvo se
stessi”. Da allora sono stati fatti sforzi enormi per instillare
quel nuovo spirito del tempo. Ci sono interi
settori del marketing dediti a quella che Thorstein Veblen,
il grande studioso di economia politica, chiamava
“induzione di bisogni”: indirizzare le persone verso
le “cose super!ciali” della vita. In tal modo le persone
sono spinte a ricercare solo il vantaggio personale, e
distolte dal pericoloso tentativo di pensare con la loro
testa, agire insieme e s!dare l’autorità.
Alla testa del movimento per a"rontare la crisi ambientale
globale e la distruzione dei beni comuni sono,
in tutto il mondo, le comunità indigene. La posizione
più forte è quella assunta dall’unico paese in cui sono
al governo, la Bolivia, la nazione più povera del Sudamerica
e vittima da secoli della distruzione delle sue
ricche risorse da parte dell’occidente.
Dopo il vergognoso fallimento del vertice di Copenaghen
del 2009 sui cambiamenti climatici globali, la
Bolivia ha organizzato un vertice dei popoli al quale
hanno partecipato 35mila persone provenienti da 140
paesi. La conferenza ha chiesto una drastica riduzione
delle emissioni e una Dichiarazione universale dei diritti
della Madre Terra. È una richiesta cruciale delle
comunità indigene di tutto il mondo, che è stata messa
in ridicolo dai ra#nati occidentali.
Eppure se non riusciremo a fare nostra almeno in
parte la sensibilità delle comunità indigene, è probabile
che saranno loro a ridere per ultime. E sarà una risata
di cupa disperazione.
Noam Chomsky 
"Un nuovo spirito del tempo"
L'internazionale Luglio 2012

NOi non siamo di Qui

The phytolacca series

Broadly distributed in fields and waste places, and usually found in edge habitats. The seeds are dispersed by berry-feeding birds. Adapted to coarse or fine soils with moderate moisture, high calcium tolerance but low salinity tolerance, pH tolerance from 4.7-8. 
Grows well in sun or shade and readily survives fire due to its ability to resprout from the roots. In recent years the plant appears to have increased in populated places. 


























When the wood is cut, the land is invaded by Phytolacca. Phytolacca produces ink. 

Geographic disorientation: approaching and landing at the wrong airport.

A sudden landscape modification can cause disorientation


Geographic disorientation in aviation operations results from the failure of an aircrew to recognize and/or maintain the desired position relative to the external ground and airspace environment. Becoming lost during flight, intruding inadvertently into unauthorized airspace, selecting a wrong airway, landing on the wrong runway, and approaching the wrong airport--with or without actual landing--are some examples of inflight geographic disorientation. This is a relatively common phenomenon that can be experienced by any pilot, regardless of experience level and the type of pilot certification. This paper analyzes 75 cases of geographic disorientation that occurred among air carrier pilots plus 16 cases among general aviation pilots between 1982 and 1987. Inflight geographic disorientation can result from a variety of aeromedical and human factors (aircrew, operational, environmental) which, interacting with each other, create the ideal conditions for the occurrence of this phenomenon. The adverse consequences of geographic disorientation for the aircrew, passengers and aircraft are delineated along with specific preventive measures.

video
 
CARGO CULT SCIENCE by Richard Feynman
 
Adapted from the Caltech commencement address given in 1974.
 
During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such
as that a piece of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a
method was discovered for separating the ideas--which was to try
one to see if it worked, and if it didn't work, to eliminate it.
This method became organized, of course, into science. And it
developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It
is such a scientific age, in fact that we have difficulty in
understanding how witch doctors could ever have existed, when
nothing that they proposed ever really worked--or very little of
it did.
 
But even today I meet lots of people who sooner or later get me
into a conversation about UFOS, or astrology, or some form of
mysticism, expanded consciousness, new types of awareness, ESP, and
so forth. And I've concluded that it's not a scientific world.
 
Most people believe so many wonderful things that I decided to
investigate why they did. And what has been referred to as my
curiosity for investigation has landed me in a difficulty where I
found so much junk that I'm overwhelmed. First I started out by
investigating various ideas of mysticism, and mystic experiences.
I went into isolation tanks and got many hours of hallucinations,
so I know something about that. Then I went to Esalen, which is a
hotbed of this kind of thought (it's a wonderful place; you should
go visit there). Then I became overwhelmed. I didn't realize how
much there was.
 
At Esalen there are some large baths fed by hot springs situated
on a ledge about thirty feet above the ocean. One of my most
pleasurable experiences has been to sit in one of those baths and
watch the waves crashing onto the rocky shore below, to gaze into
the clear blue sky above, and to study a beautiful nude as she
quietly appears and settles into the bath with me.
 
One time I sat down in a bath where there was a beautiful girl
sitting with a guy who didn't seem to know her. Right away I began
thinking, "Gee! How am I gonna get started talking to this
beautiful nude babe?"
 
I'm trying to figure out what to say, when the guy says to her,
I'm, uh, studying massage. Could I practice on you?"
 
"Sure," she says. They get out of the bath and she lies down on a
massage table nearby.
 
I think to myself, "What a nifty line! I can never think of
anything like that!" He starts to rub her big toe. "I think I feel
it, "he says. "I feel a kind of dent--is that the pituitary?"
 
I blurt out, "You're a helluva long way from the pituitary, man!"
 
They looked at me, horrified--I had blown my cover--and said, "It's
reflexology!"
 
I quickly closed my eyes and appeared to be meditating.
 
That's just an example of the kind of things that overwhelm me. I
also looked into extrasensory perception and PSI phenomena, and the
latest craze there was Uri Geller, a man who is supposed to be able
to bend keys by rubbing them with his finger. So I went to his
hotel room, on his invitation, to see a demonstration of both
mindreading and bending keys. He didn't do any mindreading that
succeeded; nobody can read my mind, I guess. And my boy held a key
and Geller rubbed it, and nothing happened. Then he told us it
works better under water, and so you can picture all of us standing
in the bathroom with the water turned on and the key under it, and
him rubbing the key with his finger. Nothing happened. So I was
unable to investigate that phenomenon.
 
But then I began to think, what else is there that we believe? (And
I thought then about the witch doctors, and how easy it would have
been to cheek on them by noticing that nothing really worked.) So
I found things that even more people believe, such as that we have
some knowledge of how to educate. There are big schools of reading
methods and mathematics methods, and so forth, but if you notice,
you'll see the reading scores keep going down--or hardly going up
in spite of the fact that we continually use these same people to
improve the methods. There's a witch doctor remedy that doesn't
work. It ought to be looked into; how do they know that their
method should work? Another example is how to treat criminals. We
obviously have made no progress--lots of theory, but no progress--
in decreasing the amount of crime by the method that we use to
handle criminals.
 
Yet these things are said to be scientific. We study them. And I
think ordinary people with commonsense ideas are intimidated by
this pseudoscience. A teacher who has some good idea of how to
teach her children to read is forced by the school system to do it
some other way--or is even fooled by the school system into
thinking that her method is not necessarily a good one. Or a parent
of bad boys, after disciplining them in one way or another, feels
guilty for the rest of her life because she didn't do "the right
thing," according to the experts.
 
So we really ought to look into theories that don't work, and
science that isn't science.
 
I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are
examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the
South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw
airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same
thing to happen now. So they've arranged to imitate things like
runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a
wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head
like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas--he's
the controller--and they wait for the airplanes to land. They're
doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the
way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land. So
I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the
apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but
they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land.
 
Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they're missing.
But it would be just about as difficult to explain to the South Sea
Islanders how they have to arrange things so that they get some
wealth in their system. It is not something simple like telling
them how to improve the shapes of the earphones. But there is one
feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science.
That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying
science in school--we never explicitly say what this is, but just
hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific
investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now
and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity,
a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of
utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if
you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you
think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right about
it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and
things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other
experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow can
tell they have been eliminated.
 
Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be
given, if you know them. You must do the best you can--if you know
anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong--to explain it. If you
make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then
you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well
as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem.
When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate
theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that
those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea
for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else
come out right, in addition.
 
In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to
help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the
information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or
another.
 
The easiest way to explain this idea is to contrast it, for
example, with advertising. Last night I heard that Wesson oil
doesn't soak through food. Well, that's true. It's not dishonest;
but the thing I'm talking about is not just a matter of not being
dishonest, it's a matter of scientific integrity, which is another
level. The fact that should be added to that advertising statement
is that no oils soak through food, if operated at a certain
temperature. If operated at another temperature, they all will--
including Wesson oil. So it's the implication which has been
conveyed, not the fact, which is true, and the difference is what
we have to deal with.
 
We've learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other
experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you
were wrong or right. Nature's phenomena will agree or they'll
disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some
temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation
as a scientist if you haven't tried to be very careful in this kind
of work. And it's this type of integrity, this kind of care not to
fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the
research in cargo cult science.
 
A great deal of their difficulty is, of course, the difficulty of
the subject and the inapplicability of the scientific method to the
subject.  Nevertheless it should be remarked that this is not the
only difficulty.  That's why the planes didn't land--but they don't
land.
 
We have learned a lot from experience about how to handle some of
the ways we fool ourselves. One example: Millikan measured the
charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops, and
got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It's a
little bit off, because he had the incorrect value for the
viscosity of air. It's interesting to look at the history of
measurements of the charge of the electron, after Millikan. If you
plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a little
bigger than Millikan's, and the next one's a little bit bigger than
that, and the next one's a little bit bigger than that, until
finally they settle down to a number which is higher.
 
Why didn't they discover that the new number was higher right away?
It's a thing that scientists are ashamed of--this history--because
it's apparent that people did things like this: When they got a
number that was too high above Millikan's, they thought something
must be wrong--and they would look for and find a reason why
something might be wrong. When they got a number closer to
Millikan's value they didn't look so hard. And so they eliminated
the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that.
We've learned those tricks nowadays, and now we don't have that
kind of a disease.
 
But this long history of learning how not to fool ourselves--of
having utter scientific integrity--is, I'm sorry to say, something
that we haven't specifically included in any particular course that
I know of. We just hope you've caught on by osmosis.
 
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself--and you are
the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about
that. After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool other
scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after
that.
 
I would like to add something that's not essential to the science,
but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool
the layman when you're talking as a scientist. I am not trying to
tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your
girlfriend, or something like that, when you're not trying to be
a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We'll
leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I'm talking about
a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending
over backwards to show how you are maybe wrong, that you ought to
have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as
scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.
 
For example, I was a little surprised when I was talking to a
friend who was going to go on the radio. He does work on cosmology
and astronomy, and he wondered how he would explain what the
applications of this work were. "Well," I said, "there aren't any."
He said, "Yes, but then we won't get support for more research of
this kind." I think that's kind of dishonest. If you're
representing yourself as a scientist, then you should explain to
the layman what you're doing--and if they don't want to support you
under those circumstances, then that's their decision.
 
One example of the principle is this: If you've made up your mind
to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should
always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out. If we only
publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look
good. We must publish both kinds of results.
 
I say that's also important in giving certain types of government
advice. Supposing a senator asked you for advice about whether
drilling a hole should be done in his state; and you decide it
would be better in some other state. If you don't publish such a
result, it seems to me you're not giving scientific advice. You're
being used. If your answer happens to come out in the direction the
government or the politicians like, they can use it as an argument
in their favor; if it comes out the other way, they don't publish
it at all. That's not giving scientific advice.
 
Other kinds of errors are more characteristic of poor science. When
I was at Cornell, I often talked to the people in the psychology
department. One of the students told me she wanted to do an
experiment that went something like this--it had been found by
others that under certain circumstances, X, rats did something, A.
She was curious as to whether, if she changed the circumstances to
Y, they would still do A. So her proposal was to do the experiment
under circumstances Y and see if they still did A.
 
I explained to her that it was necessary first to repeat in her
laboratory the experiment of the other person--to do it under
condition X to see if she could also get result A, and then change
to Y and see if A changed. Then she would know that the real
difference was the thing she thought she had under control.
 
She was very delighted with this new idea, and went to her
professor. And his reply was, no, you cannot do that, because the
experiment has already been done and you would be wasting time.
This was in about 1947 or so, and it seems to have been the general
policy then to not try to repeat psychological experiments, but
only to change the conditions and see what happens.
 
Nowadays there's a certain danger of the same thing happening, even
in the famous (?) field of physics. I was shocked to hear of an
experiment done at the big accelerator at the National Accelerator
Laboratory, where a person used deuterium. In order to compare his
heavy hydrogen results to what might happen with light hydrogen"
he had to use data from someone else's experiment on light
hydrogen, which was done on different apparatus. When asked why,
he said it was because he couldn't get time on the program (because
there's so little time and it's such expensive apparatus) to do the
experiment with light hydrogen on this apparatus because there
wouldn't be any new result. And so the men in charge of programs
at NAL are so anxious for new results, in order to get more money
to keep the thing going for public relations purposes, they are
destroying--possibly--the value of the experiments themselves,
which is the whole purpose of the thing. It is often hard for the
experimenters there to complete their work as their scientific
integrity demands.
 
All experiments in psychology are not of this type, however. For
example, there have been many experiments running rats through all
kinds of mazes, and so on--with little clear result. But in 1937
a man named Young did a very interesting one. He had a long
corridor with doors all along one side where the rats came in, and
doors along the other side where the food was. He wanted to see if
he could train the rats to go in at the third door down from
wherever he started them off. No. The rats went immediately to the
door where the food had been the time before.
 
The question was, how did the rats know, because the corridor was
so beautifully built and so uniform, that this was the same door
as before? Obviously there was something about the door that was
different from the other doors. So he painted the doors very
carefully, arranging the textures on the faces of the doors exactly
the same. Still the rats could tell. Then he thought maybe the rats
were smelling the food, so he used chemicals to change the smell
after each run. Still the rats could tell. Then he realized the
rats might be able to tell by seeing the lights and the arrangement
in the laboratory like any commonsense person. So he covered the
corridor, and still the rats could tell.
 
He finally found that they could tell by the way the floor sounded
when they ran over it. And he could only fix that by putting his
corridor in sand. So he covered one after another of all possible
clues and finally was able to fool the rats so that they had to
learn to go in the third door. If he relaxed any of his conditions,
the rats could tell.
 
Now, from a scientific standpoint, that is an A-number-one
experiment. That is the experiment that makes rat-running
experiments sensible, because it uncovers the clues that the rat
is really using--not what you think it's using. And that is the
experiment that tells exactly what conditions you have to use in
order to be careful and control everything in an experiment with
rat-running.
 
I looked into the subsequent history of this research. The next
experiment, and the one after that, never referred to Mr. Young.
They never used any of his criteria of putting the corridor on
sand, or being very careful. They just went right on running rats
in the same old way, and paid no attention to the great discoveries
of Mr. Young, and his papers are not referred to, because he didn't
discover anything about the rats. In fact, he discovered all the
things you have to do to discover something about rats. But not
paying attention to experiments like that is a characteristic of
cargo cult science.
 
Another example is the ESP experiments of Mr. Rhine, and other
people. As various people have made criticisms--and they themselves
have made criticisms of their own experiments--they improve the
techniques so that the effects are smaller, and smaller, and
smaller until they gradually disappear. All the parapsychologists
are looking for some experiment that can be repeated--that you can
do again and get the same effect--statistically, even. They run a
million rats no, it's people this time they do a lot of things and
get a certain statistical effect. Next time they try it they don't
get it any more. And now you find a man saying that it is an
irrelevant demand to expect a repeatable experiment. This is
science?
 
This man also speaks about a new institution, in a talk in which
he was resigning as Director of the Institute of Parapsychology.
And, in telling people what to do next, he says that one of the
things they have to do is be sure they only train students who have
shown their ability to get PSI results to an acceptable extent--
not to waste their time on those ambitious and interested students
who get only chance results. It is very dangerous to have such a
policy in teaching--to teach students only how to get certain
results, rather than how to do an experiment with scientific
integrity.
 
So I have just one wish for you--the good luck to be somewhere
where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have
described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain
your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on,
to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.

DECEMBER 2011



Fake signs has been added to confuse the bulldozers operators that will cut the wood.

WHAT IS NATURE? CULTURAL CONCEPTS, LOCAL REPRESENTATIONS, CONSTRUCTION, DECONSTRUCTION, POLITICAL AND MARKETING STRATEGIES OF HUMANITY'S OLDEST QUESTION.


Marcella Schmidt di Friedberg
Historic-Geographical Department,
University of Pavia, Italy


The title I’m presenting here was meant as a proposal for a session. The session got lost
in the meanders of global communication, in the web-links between the Mediterranean
and the Far East, namely Italy and Taegu.
The title is a quote from Kate Soper and the purpose was to investigate, in both
conceptual and political terms, the meaning of the "natural" in contemporary society.
The topics I considered ranged from the construction of artificial/natural environments
(bio-parks, protected areas, museums of nature); to the politics of environmentalism; to
the consumption, marketing and conservation of nature nowadays and in the past; to the
change of attitude towards the non-human world and the definition of nature in ethical,
aesthetic and historical categories. The idea was to confront case studies on different
concepts of nature, and especially here in Korea, ideas of nature in East Asian thought.
Just from the reality of a mosaic of case studies we can grasp the ”unparalleled field of
difference”, in Harvey’s words, of nature’s meanings.
To condense now, in a single paper, such a wide and complex subject seems to me
preposterous. I will just consider here an example, adding then some more general
comments.
The human-nature relationship is one of the oldest and much-discussed multidisciplinary
themes, backed up by a huge literature. Nature’s idea ambiguity comes out
just by trying to define it: in the words of Torsten Haegerstrand, nature is:
"The world to which our bodies belong, (….) in which hundreds of specialised
sciences have identified millions of items, phenomena and relationships,
rendered in a confusion of tongues. How can any sane person dare to confess a
hope that he can say something about how to view Nature as a wholeness?"
(Haegerstrand, 1976, p.329).
Nowadays the problem present itself in discursive terms, embedded in the difficulty of
situating precisely the border between the natural and the artificial and in the new
emphasis on nature-cultural heritage in conservation. As Harvey observes:
“The contemporary battleground over words like “nature” and the
“environment” is a leading edge of political conflict, precisely because of the
“incompletely explicit assumptions, or more or less unconscious mental
habits,” which surround them. And it is, of course, primarily in the realms of
ideology and discourse where “we become conscious of political matters and
fight them out” (Harvey, 1996, p.118)
Nature’s concepts are never politically or socially neutral. Neil Smith comments:
“It is in the production of nature that use-value and exchange value, and space
and society are fused together” (Smith, 1990, p.32).
To take just one example, we can consider the institution of National Parks, often seen
both as a prerequisite and a solution for the sustainable development of our planet. If we
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accept the idea that nature is socially constructed, protected areas express a complex of
traditions, myths and beliefs, as well as an ecological balance.
All conservation policies, in fact, imply a perspective on the relations between humans
and nature, though this perspective is seldom explicitly identified: rarely are the
questions 'What is to be preserved?' 'Why?' and 'For whom?' raised in any serious way.
The U.S. world National parks system, - probably the most famous - is mainly the
expression of a North American concept, based on a conflicting relationship between
nature and people. The extraordinary potential of public use of the concept of nature,
inspired by American civic improvers such as Frederick Olmstead, became lost at the
very start of the development of the National Park idea. Olmstead was charged with the
implementation of New York's Central Park, authorized in 1853. Ten years later, he
applied the same principles to the management of Yosemite Valley, granted by
Congress to the state of California as a public park in 1864.
National Parks reflect the array of political, cultural, social and technological forces that
have shaped American national history. Foresta argues that the US National Parks
System was not invented but rather was fortuitous.
“The reality beneath the image is that neither the national parks nor their
keepers stand apart from their times; they are very much subject to the
problems and dilemmas of modern American life” (Foresta, 1984, p.2)
The result is a very unsystematic System. In addition to National Parks, it includes at
least a dozen other categories, from the “crown jewels”, Yellowstone and Yosemite, to
The Capitol in Washington D.C., to the National Battlefields, with a total of some 357
areas.
Each unit of the system embodies a definition (or idealization) of nature. Each relates to
a set of social values (Benton, Short, 1999). Management policies assume that the
ecology of a particular moment in the past can be 'frozen' in the present, ignoring social
and power relationships, and the dynamic nature of human society. This is particularly
reflected in implied concepts of 'wilderness' and the 'natural'.
For those two fundamental aspects, the Mediterranean concept of National Parks
contrasts with the US ideal. The ‘wilderness myth’ clashes with the biblical idea of
human dominion over nature and of the well-kept Mediterranean garden (White, 1967).
For example, if we study, a map of the distribution of the National Parks in the
Mediterranean area, we will notice that very few of them are coastal or marine parks.
More often, they are situated in mountain areas, as Corsica’s extensive park, where
tourist demand is not so heavy. In Greece, only 8% of national parks is
“Mediterranean”; the equivalent Greek term to park means “deciduous oak forest” and
protection strategies, imported from Bavarian architects, considered, at first “real forests
only”, ignoring all Mediterranean type vegetation (Margaris, 1991, p.406).
In Japan, National Parks are often cultural landscapes of great beauty, managed and
modified by humans from ancient times: temples are enshrined harmonically in the
wilderness; protected areas correspond mostly with sacred spaces, centers of
nature/culture dialectics.
The consequence, for those “imported –structures” – as Richez has defined National
Parks in Europe or in Asia and Africa - is often an absence or confusion of purpose and
a lack of effectiveness in management.
Protected areas are often seen as an end in themselves, as “wilderness islands”, created
and defined to compensate for the exploitation of land, landscape and nature, outside
their boundaries. National Parks originated in a definite time and space. They mainly
4
reflect a spatial concept of nature conservation: to circumscribe an area of untouched
wilderness, “other” in respect to the human, and to preserve it for the enjoyment of
future generations.
This philosophy dominates policies and nature management strategies all over the world,
yet it often fails. It does not respond to the mosaic of differences of other cultural and
historical contexts. In ancient historical regions, landscape is the product of centuries of
human-nature interrelations. A different model of conservation could be assumed: a
temporal concept, where not only wilderness is preserved, but also the long and
indissoluble history of nature-human relations, the continuity of rural life and of
traditional life with/in nature.
I would just like now to add some comments on one particular point, which looks
particularly challenging to me, and which I would have liked to discuss here.
If we are living in “new global times”, in Taylor, Watts and Johnston definition,
“qualitatively different from the past” (Taylor, Watts and Johnston, 1990, p.6-7) how
are changing nature concepts, in the “great vortex” of globalization?
Are we heading towards “the end of nature”, as in Mc Kibben millenaristic threat, or
are we “nature’s keepers” according to the more positive view of species – like horses
and deer - are considered more valuable than others – like rats or insects - with local
changing preferences. All over the world, ecological science is full of cases of nature’s
complex dynamics, dominated by Budiansky, or we are, ourselves, part of nature
evolutionary process?
Our experience of nature, our conception of nature, are always mediated by culture. As
Edgar Morin has put it:
All that speaks of nature speaks of society. The ‘conquest of mature’, the
‘return to nature’ are the most social of social ideas (Morin, 1980, p.130).
Major environmental concerns, however, often have seemingly straightforward
technical solutions, based on science. Nature management always implies a choice,
mediated by culture. It is always a question of what to save what to put back, what to
take apart.
Humans, as modifying agents in Marsh terms, had always been selectively choosing and
constructing their environments under the pressure of need, or of market and fashion.
All ecosystems imply an always-changing balance of human intervention and of natural
processes. Some parts of nature and some species –like horses and deer- are considered
more valuable than other –like rats or insects – with local changing preferences. Al over
the world, ecological science is full of cases of nature complex dynamics, dominated by
human preferences. In the English countryside, reports Budiansky, rabbits, an invading
species, are maintaining the low prairies of wild thymian, the ideal habitat of the rare
blue butterfly, in extinction. What is more natural: to leave the rabbits, or eliminate
them, consenting the growth of vegetation, but threatening the survival of the
butterflies? In our time, the role of human intervention is accelerating and becoming
more extensive, with generally not foreseeable consequences, like habitat destruction
and pollution, and loss of bio-diversity.
Urban and technological society had, not only selected but, de facto, excluded the
animal and vegetable world from its daily experiences and rhythms.
What kind of relationship can we establish, nowadays, with wildlife, with forests and
wolves, when, thanks to conservation politics, they become again our often tedious and
uncomfortable neighbors?
5
The preferences of the society of tomorrow, in fact, could be oriented, also in esthetical
terms, towards the artificial, more then the natural: cityscapes, theme parks, videogames
and virtual reality demonstrate it. The disquieting setting of a world without
nature is provocatively presented by Donna Haraway, inspired by life in North
American suburban areas: we are all becoming cyborgs, hybrids of organisms and
machines (Haraway, 1995, p.41).
The extraordinary tourist success of theme parks and of bio-domes, seems to confirm
this preference and to deny the easy blame of phony-environments, in the name of a
past golden age of ecological balance. Nature has just to be purified from diseases,
violence and insects and beautified.
“in this sense, writes Kate Soper, nature may be viewed as a register of
changing conceptions as to who qualify, and why, for full membership of the
human community; and thus also to some extent as a register of Western
civilization’s anxieties and divisions about its own qualities, activities and
achievements” (Soper, 1995, p.74).
“Natural living” becomes hence a highly appreciated goal for affluent societies, and has
a consistent market value and promotion. „Green cities“, green tourism, ecodevelopment
are the key words. The aim is to obtain a better quality of living from the
blend of nature and technology.
"I don't think we should kid ourselves. We haven't re-created the past here. The
past is gone. It can never be re-created. What we've done is reconstruct the
past - or at least a version of the past. And I'm saying we can make a better
version."(Crichton, 1990, p.123)1.
- we read in Michel Crichton‘s best-seller Jurassic Park.
The cultural challenge of the oxymoronic “artificial-nature” was accepted already in the
early Seventy’s by Martin Krieger’s provoking article What 's Wrong with Plastic
Trees?
"It is likely - writes Krieger - that we shall want to apply our technology to the
creation of artificial environments. …. Finally, we may want to create proxy
environments by means of substitution and simulation. .... What's wrong with
plastic trees? My guess is that there is very little wrong with them. Much more
can be done with plastic trees and the like to give most people the feeling that
they are experiencing nature (Krieger, 1973, p.433)
To end up:
"We are perhaps justifiably, afraid of what the prime objects of the future will
be. We prefer natural environments to synthesized ones because we are
familiar with techniques of managing the natural ones and know what the
effects of such management are. Plastic trees are frightening" (Krieger, 1973,
p.450).
There is no necessary contradiction between acknowledging the fact that 'nature' has
been universally affected (and to a very large extent created) by humans or that our
notion of nature is historically specific and culturally mediated. On the contrary, it is
6
probably precisely because of this mediation (which can vary greatly from place to
place and culture to culture) that we can, so genuinely, individually and collectively,
love, value and feel spiritually moved by 'nature'. More, that appreciation and what is
appreciated may itself take different forms - arguably it is the more rounded individual
who can enjoy and be moved by both the urban park and the remote 'wilderness' than
the individual for whom only the one or the other has any meaning.
Adams points out the unique quality of “otherness” of nature, impossible to reproduce,
either with the more advanced techniques. He writes:
"Nature is of enormous value, because of its role as a cultural archive, a record
of human endeavour and husbandry, and because nature has a wild non human
otherness that stands apart from human values" (Adams, 1997, p. 106).
And concludes:
" We have to rebuild contact with nature, and re-establish a place for nature in
popular culture. We can do it gradually, by accretion and by attraction. It is
no good arguing that the flea-ridden wild hedgehog in the garden is better
than its virtual- reality cousin in the megadrive, but we can argue that it is
different, and important: alive, and quite different from ourselves" (Adams,
1997, p. 113).
Our feelings towards the “otherness” of nature, are related with the longing for a “reenchantment”
with the world, in Harvey’s words; the sensation of nostalgia and emotion
in front of untouched wilderness, like sunsets, waterfalls, or the ocean, opens wide
unanswerable questions. It could just be the nostalgic memory of an ancient past, when
humans lived closer to nature, in community with non-humans beings.
Or we can remember, on the other hand, the image of the Earth sustained by two hands
and the famous declaration of Elisée Reclus - "L’homme est la nature prenant
conscience d’elle -meme” (Reclus, 1982, p.106).
The exact words of Reclus - -"humanity is nature becoming conscious of itself" - are
reported in the conclusion of The idea of Wilderness of Oelschlaeger, one of the
paladins of deep ecology.
Whether we accept those deep implications or not, in the margin of scientific discourse,
anyhow, remains a sensation of lost and a feeling of belonging, connected with the
esthetics of nature. I will finish with a last quote which displays this uneasiness with
abstract nature interpretations, also in the words of a so-called “pure scientist”, not
chargeable with romanticism, namely Arthur G.Tansley, the ecologist who coined the
term „ecosystem“2:
"When I'm commenting the merits of a proposed nature reserve, after
describing the scientific merits of its flora and fauna, I often find it hard to
resist bringing in the scenic beauty of the landscape or the attractiveness of
the vegetation, though my allusion to those takes on an almost pathetic tone. It
is as if I were trying to say 'and of course, the place is really beautiful as well,
though perhaps I ought not to mention the fact"
(Tansley, in Adams, 1997, p.93).
2A.G.Tansley, "The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts and Terms", Ecology, 16, n.3,
1935, pp.284-307.



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