Posts Tagged ‘undark’

Listening to the Thoughts of the Forest ; Undark guest repost

February 8, 2018

https://undark.org/article/listening-to-the-thoughts-of-the-forest/

Listening to the Thoughts of the Forest

The fate of a Tennessee forest was weighed in a boardroom by an assembly of businessmen, lawyers, and scientists. They never listened to the trees.

 

excerpt:

“The meeting yielded a memorandum of understanding and a press release. The corporation agreed to stop converting native forests to plantations. In print, all parties congratulated one another. The governor added a supportive statement. By the standards of a technocratic world, this was a success, albeit one whose effects were mitigated over the following decade by fluctuations in newsprint pulp prices, mill closings, corporate mergers, and divestment of land. Now, a dozen years after this 2005 agreement, pressure to convert forests to plantations continues in the southeastern U.S. The chasm between the people in the room persists, as does our collective deafness to the forest.

“It is perhaps absurd to suggest that lawyers, scientists, lobbyists, and MBAs spend more of their time listening to trees, smelling the leaf litter, visiting paper mills, and talking to one another in the woods and the logging yards. In a data-driven world, one governed by quantifiable financial and scientific information, a practice of open-ended listening and bodily engagement seems out of place, a diversion or an irrelevance. But financial and scientific data are abstractions. The forest is not made of abstractions. It is not even made of separate, interacting objects. The forest is instead made of relationship. To enter this gargantuan conversation is to connect our bodies and brains to creatures and processes beyond ourselves. This is ecological “big data” wired directly into human cellular and cultural networks.

“It is time, then, for some unconventional in-service training: immersion in the forest’s mind. No polished shoes under tables, no soil-covering marble slabs, no slides of graphs delivered like slap shots at a goal. Instead, let us become sommeliers of forest soils (smell the varied overtones of ascomycete), tree-listeners (what crackle of drought do we hear in twigs, what rustle of unmade paper in the pine?), and interlocutors of root tips, bird memories, and human experience. We do so not to unearth ourselves into mysticism or to run away from disagreements in boardrooms. Rather, listening in the woods is a radical — radix, from the root — form of empiricism.”

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