All posts tagged: Culture

Content exploring culture.

Princess Mononoke Hayao Miyazaki's environmental epic

Before Cameron’s Avatar: Princess Mononoke

“In ancient times, the land lay covered in forests, where from ages long past, dwelt the spirits of the gods. Back then, man and beast lived in harmony, but as time went by, most of the great forests were destroyed. Those that remained were guarded by gigantic beasts who owed their allegiances to the Great Forest Spirit, for those were the days of gods and of demons…” – Introduction of Princess Mononoke I consider Princess Mononoke, a film by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, to be one of the best environmental movie in history. Inspired by the tumultuous Muromachi era in Japanese history, Princess Mononoke explores the relationship between humans and nature in all its complex and tragic facets. Unlike many other environmental films but like so many of Miyazaki’s works, Mononoke does away with clear-cut dichotomies of good and bad; characters act with understandable motivations. Most of them are capable of change and in some cases, even redemption. The film’s unusual conclusion stresses the need for acceptance, integration, and reconciliation, even in the face of horrifying, …

Michael Pollan Second Nature: A Gardener's Education Word Cloud 2

Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, Part 2

Welcome to part two of the analysis on Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: a Gardener’s Education. In this entry, I’ll focus on my two favourite chapters of the book: Planting a Tree and The Idea of a Garden. The Meaning of a Tree In Planting a Tree, Pollan explores the fascinating and ever-changing cultural significance of a tree. Once again, his reflections come out of his horticultural adventures; the chapter chronicles his thoughts as he decides on the right tree for his yard. The act of tree planting prompts Pollan to delve deep into American history to explore the meanings people have come to attach to the tree: The Divine Tree: Native Americans saw and treated trees as divine spirits, only to be cut down in need. The Tree of Evil: Puritans despised them as symbols for pantheism, danger, and darkness. The Tree as a Weed: New England subsistence farmers regarded them as obstacles to settlement. To them, the clear-cut landscape was viewed as a sign of progress and civilization. The Tree as a Commodity: The …

Michael Pollan Second Nature Word Cloud 1

Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, Part 1

The arrival of spring in the city along with the 190th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted (the man who built New York’s Central Park) has prompted me to look to the parks, the garden, and the backyard for story ideas. After thoroughly enjoying In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, I thought this would be the perfect time to explore author Michael Pollan’s perspective on gardening in Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education. The significance of narrative in non-fiction is easy to overlook. There is traditionally an emphasis on content: Are there enough facts? Does the author get the information right? Does he/she make a logical case for his/her argument(s)? But delivery matters too. A strong narrative, conveyed through a unique and authentic voice, has the ability to linger in the minds of readers long after they have put down the book. When it comes to exploring the relationships between nature and culture, Michael Pollan is an excellent storyteller. Second Nature, despite being one of his …

Ekostories: An Introduction

“… A person who had never listened to nor read a tale or myth or parable or story, would remain ignorant of his own emotional and spiritual heights and depths, would not know quite fully what it is to be human. For the story- from Rumpelstiltskin to War and Peace – is one of the basic tools invented by the mind of man, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” (Ursula K. Le Guin, Language of the Night, p. 22.) Few things move us like a captivating story, told by a master storyteller. Stories can be grand and epic narratives that guide the thoughts and actions of entire societies and cultures. They can also be of a smaller quieter nature – tales of personal trials and tribulations, comedies and tragedies. They can range from light-hearted escapist adventures to deep meditations of the human condition. Regardless of their scope, the stories that endure share the …