Monday, March 9, 2009

Nature Always Wins

I was once a vegetarian, because the more I watched animals, the less I thought that humans were very special. Then I would watch the news and think that actually humans are a lot worse than animals, destructive to each other, to the planet and of course to any other creatures that gets in our way. After craving a steak for 3 years though, I gave in to the temptation to eat meat again, and now continue to live life as a hypocrite, talking about how nice animals are, and then cooking them with a port wine sauce. In the self justification for this, I have also been known to fall back on an old rationalization about why we humans are unique, and that is our ability to create art. Art is all of the things that we think it is. It enriches us, provokes us and allows us to understand something which rational means cannot. Even this notion that only we create art is perhaps a little questionable. The architecture of the beaver for example is both beautiful and utilitarian, though they wisely may not care how the lodge looks. After all, the main hall at MoMa always leaked, and never stayed warm, even though it is beautiful. The beaver lodge near our home in the Catskills may not have that same problem. Anyway, I do tend to think that art is importantly, mostly uniquely human. So this last weekend I found myself pondering a question that people must have been asking for centuries: who does better art or nature? I was sitting in a friend’s living room on the beach looking at the Atlantic, when off to my left there was an amazing painting of ocean water. I looked back and forth at them, and wondered why I would bother to look at the painting when I could look at the real thing. It then occurred to me that it is the artist, and the art lover who use art to understand nature. The investigation of nature for an artist, not unlike a scientist, is to probe. So in fact creating art is indeed as natural as the waves of the ocean itself.


  1. That is why I said to you at the jazz gig during the Science festival that I felt there is a connection between artists and scientists. They both study nature in there own way. As a painter you try to understand and then capture nature, which is really exciting and frustrating at the same time because all you ever manage is an impression. Nature does always win, as much as we humans like to create, we are never going to create anything more beautiful than nature itself (does)

  2. Thanks for the comment Esther. whether nature or art is in the end more profound is interesting, but I respect most those people, like yourself who try to live in nature and express it. I just read "Thus Spake Zarathustra", and though this is over 100 years old, I was blown away by it, and how relevant it is to the modern condition, especially as we relate to nature. You likely read it, as you are a part of the good European Educational system, but us Americans have to discover Philosophy on our own. Thanks again. i enjoy reading your ideas. Keep them coming!


Please feel free to comment. It helps me with ideas, and to start a discussion.