“To shut ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rub our sense of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human”
If you are not interested in having a tight relationship with nature, you will not care about nature’s future. If you do not care about it, you will not defend it.
Such tight relationship could certainly takes various shapes, yet it always seems to hold the crucial need of being somehow in contact with the non-human life. This relationship is tight to cycles and layers; it is tight to a wider range of aliveness.
* * *
A few weeks ago I heard for the first time the concept NIMBY in one of my classes. On that occasion I was taught that it refers to the sentence “not in my back yard” as a way to denominate people’s behavior when even tough apparently advocating for a cause, they do not want to have any kind of giving away because of it. The concept shows a weird but yet common paradox. How many time we agree on something, but we are not quiet sure that we want to make a personal effort so to make it work? It is a natural-human-behavior, I guess.
I thought then about the plan to build the huge hydroelectric power plant call Hidroaysén. This megaproject is ambitioned to be built right in the beautiful land of Patagonia (Chile). It would certainly destroy not just its sublime view, but also –which is even worse– the way the land needs to behave. The ones that advocate for building the hydroelectric say that it would be one of the great sources to generate all the energy we would need in the future. They apparently talk on behalf of human beings. The ones that refuse its construction talk on behalf of nature.
But I believe that to talk on behalf on nature is actually to talk on behalf of us, human beings. What happens to the Earth happens to us as well. The Earth is falling apart, and we are falling upon it. It is crucial then to reconnect with the sense of place. Non-human life is still life. Because we need nature, because nature is what holds us. We are guests here.
So, if we think deeper through it, the notion of NIMBY does not work in this context. First, there is not such a think as the propriety conception of “my back yard”; we do not really own anything about nature. But even if that were possible, the back yard does not truly exists neither. Nature is all over; we are a little part of it.
Hunderwasser’s theory about The Five Skins is beautifully connected with this.He said that us, human beings, have five skins. The first skin, the one we came with, the epidermis, is considered by him to be the original truth created by nature.The second skin, the clothing is proposed as the opportunity to designthe own and not uniformed fashion. The third skin, the house, is the place we dwell as unique individuals. The fourth skin, the social environment and identity, represents the scope where unconformity is invited, along with the connectivity with the social environment. Finally, the fifth skin is where the harmony with the Earth happens. Where mankind acknowledge the laws of nature.
I like to think that we wear all of these layers and that, at the same time, they wear us. Even though these five layers are different moments in which human beings behave respectively different, they occur all at the same time. Like a liquid that is both filling us and covering us.
* * *
Maybe we have disconnected ourselves from the Earth because it is too painful to see what have we done with it. Maybe. It could be a good explanation to think that if nature is being destroyed, we have untied ourselves from it, because we do not want to be destroyed too. Maybe.
But that does not make any sense. If we are untied to nature, we are untied to ourselves. It is frustrating then to see that the nonsense of productivity is what reign our behavior. There is no other place to live. Not right now al least.
* * *
I wonder if the need to positioned the human being as the main character in the Earth is just a response to the fear of the unknown. I guess that what is beyond our understanding regarding nature’s law make us feel uncomfortable. In nature, not all the things happen in a fast manner, neither are predictable. As human being we have surrender more and more to productivity and disposable machinery. We have isolated ourselves from a richer contact with things that are not products, but part of the natural cycle of life.
We may think that to be human is to exercise both our will and our reasoning. We may think that to be human is to wear clothes and to build houses. We may think many things…
I rather think that to be a human is to be aware of where we are. To use our brain but not just to invent new technology, but also to be able to better distribute the place we share. Our home is this planet.
“Does the human intellect, or “reason”, really spring us free from our inherence in the depths of this wild proliferation of forms? Or on the contrary, is the human intellect rooted in, and secretly borne by, our forgotten contact with the multiple nonhuman shapes that surround us?”
To know more about Hunderwasser’s beautiful work, please visit here
 David Abraham, The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world [New York: Vintage Books, 1997] page 22
 For more information please visit https://glacierchange.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/glacier-nef-retreat-rio-baker-chile/
 David Abraham, The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world [New York: Vintage Books, 1997] page 49