By Robert Pogue Harrison
People have lengthy grew to become to gardens—both genuine and imaginary—for sanctuary from the rush and tumult that surrounds them. these gardens should be as distant from daily truth as Gilgamesh’s backyard of the gods or as close to as our personal yard, yet of their very belief and the marks they endure of human care and cultivation, gardens stand as restorative, nourishing, important havens.
With Gardens, Robert Pogue Harrison graces readers with a considerate, wide-ranging exam of the various methods gardens evoke the human situation. relocating from from the gardens of historic philosophers to the gardens of homeless humans in modern manhattan, he exhibits how, time and again, the backyard has served as a fee opposed to the destruction and losses of history. The ancients, explains Harrison, seen gardens as either a version and a situation for the hard self-cultivation and self-improvement which are necessary to serenity and enlightenment, an organization that has persevered through the a while. The Bible and Qur’an; Plato’s Academy and Epicurus’s backyard university; Zen rock and Islamic carpet gardens; Boccaccio, Rihaku, Capek, Cao Xueqin, Italo Calvino, Ariosto, Michel Tournier, and Hannah Arendt—all come into play as this paintings explores the ways that the idea that and fact of the backyard has educated human puzzling over mortality, order, and tool.
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Extra info for Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition
The gardener is a year-round cultivator. Even in winter months, when there is little he can do with his hands, he “cultivates the weather,” fretting over too much snow, too little snow, the specter of black frosts, the winds, the bursts of sunlight that may 26 3 c h a p t e r t h r e e cause the bushes to bud too soon. The weather is never right. “If it rains, he fears for his little Alpine flowers; if it is dry, he thinks with pain on his rhododendrons and andromedas” (10). In a humorous passage that reaffirms care’s ecstatic self-extension into the world of nature and unto the God who has traditionally been imagined to hold sway over nature, Čapek writes: If it were of any use, every day the gardener would fall on his knees and pray somehow like this: “O Lord, grant that in some way it may rain every day, say from about midnight until three o’clock in the morning, but you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in, grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthemum, lavender, and the others which you in your infinite wisdom know are droughtloving plants—I will write their names on a bit of paper if you like—and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere (not, for instance, on spirea, or on gentian, plantain lily, and rhododendron), and not too much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plantlice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano may fall from heaven.
That there was fruit without flowers in Eden suggests that a frozen, temporally suspended nature reigned there, a nature without beauty, for where things are unmarked by time, propagation, and death, they are devoid of beauty. Whatever else it may figure, beauty first and foremost figures mortality. But in Eden, as Wilner goes on to state, . . beauty had no figure, no sacred symmetry, centripetal, slowly opening to a half-glimpsed nuclear core— hot enough to melt the arctic, icebound heart of God.
They are not bound up with our biological survival, hence they are not subsumable under the concept of labor (agriculture is labor). Likewise, they are not exactly subsumable under the category of work. The epitome of work is art, according to Arendt, and it would seem that gardens do not share art’s drive for permanence (see chapter 5 for further discussion of the relation between gardens and art). As for action, Arendt understands it as something that transpires strictly between human beings in their public worlds.
Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition by Robert Pogue Harrison