Biocentric – Gary Snyder/Patrick Geddes

Dipping into The Gary Snyder Reader and Jim Dodge’s excellent introduction:

[Snyder] views his work as inhabiting “the mythopoeic interface of society, ecology and language.”

He enlarges one’s delight in existence and amplifies the élan vital, the life force coursing through it all.  And if so doing he also, as Freeman House put it, “gives you the permission to use your senses and offers tools to take on the more destructive aspects of Western Civilization,” all the better.

The sense of work centred in place, of addressing a community that includes plants and animals as well as people.

The nature of imagination tends towards integration, inclusion and intimacy and as such is inimical to the alienation and homogeneity of corporate global capitalism, centralised government and the other forces of darkness that regard the planet as dominion rather than domicile, markets instead of hearths.

As his essays prove and his poems embody, Gary Snyder is among the most ferociously imaginative proponents of the bio-centric (“life-centred) view over the egocentric (self-centred) model.

Foreword by Jim Dodge, The Gary Snyder Reader, (New York: Counterpoint, 1999).

All of this also highly resonant with some of the key ideas of Patrick Geddes:

This is a green world, with animals comparatively few and small, and all dependent on the leaves. By leaves we live. Some people have strange ideas that they live by money. They think energy is generated by the circulation of coins. Whereas the world is mainly a vast leaf colony, growing on and forming a leafy soil, not a mere mineral mass: and we live not by the jingling of our coins, but by the fullness of our harvests.” 

Patrick Geddes final lecture to students at University College Dundee in 1918.

Everything I have done”, he once said at Le College des Ecossais, “has been biocentric; for and in terms of life, both individual and collective; whereas all the machinery of the state, public instruction, finance and industry ignore life, when indeed it does not destroy it. The only thing that amazes me, therefore, as I look back over my experiences is that I was not caught and hung many years ago.”

Rob Cowan quoting Hugh MacDiarmid and Geddes in Town and Country Planning, September 1979.

 

Now Playing: Ben Frost & Daniel Bjarnason – Solaris

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