John Fowles (19262005) is widely regarded as one of the preeminent English novelists of the twentieth century his books have sold millions of copies worldwide, been turned into beloved films, and been popularly voted among the 100 greatest novels of the century.
To a smaller yet no less passionate audience, Fowles is also k...more
"The particular cost of understanding the mechanism of nature, of having so successfully itemized and pigeon-holed it, lies most of all in the ordinary person's perception of it, in his or her ability to live with and care for it--a ...more
I am one of those who believes we are the stewards of (and on) this planet. This view is very compatible with what Fowles is writing. I, too, may be waiting for a new melding of science and nature that doesn’t bend other species to our whims and desires but helps us understand a ...more
Came back to this book nearly four years after the initial reading, and after a long trip where I spent a lot of time with some wild trees. I still found it beautiful and touching and wonderful. I also found some sections that challenged me (and that I didn't particularly remember from the first time around.) and that I didn't quite agree with as wholeheartedly as I did when I first read it - but I think that is a good thing! I still recommend this essay fully to any ...more
Will return to complete
I saw this book and bought it, though I have 80-something books I need to read. I saw the title and grabbed it, smiled when I ...more
"Do we feel that unless we create evidence-photographs, journal ent ...more
I value some of what Fowles argues. A singular scientific understanding is not enough - but neither is the alternative he offers, that of throwing out expertise or understanding individuals, of only looking at a system.
Science fails people precisely because it pretends it has no bias - but I doubt I'll find anything criticizing ...more
"Naming things is always implicitly categorizing and therefore collecting them, attempting to own them; and because man is a highly acquisitive creature, brainwashed by most modern societies into believing that the act of acquisition is more enjoyable than the fact of having acquired, that getting beats hav ...more
And so on. Art is just as beautiful and unpredictable as nature is, and every try to learn how to do it or to examine it is just as futile as the labels put on species ...more
Some of my favourite quotes:
"The modern version of hell is purposelessness."
"Almost all the richness of our personal existence derives from the synthetic and eternally present 'confused' consciousness of both internal and external reality, and not least becsuse we know it is beyond the analytical, or destructive, capacity of science."
"Achieving a relationship with nature is both a science and an art, beyond mere knowledge or mere feeling alone; [...] T ...more
Beyond the meditation on the relationship between humans and nature, there are also tidbits of wisdom on mindfulness and being present.
I feel that I can learn from a lot of the ideas in this essay... it comments on the idea that people are constantly looking for purpose in everything external to us and everything we do. Fowles suggests that there is value in being lost and having no plan.
(in response to putting nature ...more
"It [the uncultivated copse] can be known and entered only by each, and in its now; not by you through me, by any you through any me; only by you through yourself, or me through myself. We still have this to learn: the inalienable otherness of each, human and non-human, which may seem the p ...more
"The artist's experience here is only a special—unusually prolonged and self-conscious—case of the universal individual one. The return to the green chaos, the deep forest and refuge of the unconscious is a nightly phenomenon, and one that psychiatrists—and torturers—tell us is essential to the human mind. Without it, it disintegrates and goes mad. If I cherish trees ...more
“If some intelligence one day looks back at us, it may determine it was not toolmaking that set us apart, or even our sense of irony, which allows us to live with paradox, but our capacity for metaphor[.]” (Introduction, page xiii)
“One is thankful for a gifted write ...more
Philosophically, of its time (late 1970s), with deep contempt for the convulses of science and concern for our lack of attention to the ‘organic whole’ (my words, not his).
Fowles is quite aligned with his contemporary Hannah Arendt’s parallel complaints about social science and her desire to protect the notion of human action as uniquely unpredictable and unfathomable. Fowles is concerned with the hard sciences and their reduction of the natural world. He seeks to p ...more
Fowles attended Bedford School, a large boarding school designed to prepare boys for university, from ages 13 to 18. After briefly attendi ...more