jeremy's Reviews > Second Nature

Second Nature by Michael Pollan
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May 02, 10

bookshelves: nature
Read in April, 2010

michael pollan may be incapable of uninteresting writing. discerning and lucid, his works tend to provoke the reader to engage themselves (at least in thought, if not deed) well beyond the final page. second nature: a gardener's education is pollan's first book (now nearly two decades old), yet reads like a timeless work by a seasoned writer. while lacking in the overall cohesive force of his later works, this book may encourage more reflection and greater perspective. with his characteristic humor, thoughtful exposition, and meandering style, michael pollan is always enjoyable to read. his distinctive voice is evident in nearly everything he writes, yet more importantly, he comes across as neither preachy nor self-righteous.

second nature, divided into four parts relating to each season, concerns itself with nearly every aspect of the garden. as with his other books, this one is part philosophical tract, part history lesson, and part autobiographical offering. pollan considers the very nature of what constitutes a garden (or a weed) and expounds upon man's historical and ongoing role as architect of the land. recognizing that attitudes and preferences have shifted across eras and continents, pollan considers and muses upon the temporal, ever-evolving relationships cultures maintain with gardens (as showy ornaments, sources of sustenance, and all points in between). second nature is a fascinating, contemplative read, one that will surely appeal to anyone who has ever considered, admired, or cultivated a piece of land.

...because it doesn't depend on technological invincibility. nor does it depend on the benignity of nature. it depends on me acting like a sane and civilized human, which is to say, as a creature whose nature it is to remake his surroundings, and whose culture can guide him on questions of aesthetics and ethics. what i'm making here is a middle ground between nature and culture, a place that is at once of nature and unapologetically set against it; what i'm making is a garden.
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