(adj.); out of one’s element; situated in unfamiliar surroundings; from the Old French despaisier (to exile)
As a species, we’ve somehow survived large and small ice ages, genetic bottlenecks, plagues, world wars, and all manner of natural disasters, but I sometimes wonder if we’ll survive our own ingenuity.
—Diane Ackerman, in “Nature, Pixellated”
Camping, cottages, meditation classes, nature retreats, detoxes, paleo diets—it’s a curious thing, how much energy we spend on trying to get “back to nature.” The very word nature implies something essential, something intrinsic, something natural. And yet in today’s digital age, we seem to have to try very hard in order to recover it. Today’s reads are a delightful inversion of each other: in Nautilus, Diane Ackerman traces humanity’s disengagement with the natural world in an essay more reminiscent of poetry than a scientific account. On the other hand, Christ Hampton sits down with artist Jon Rafman, a multidisciplinary artist whose work questions and celebrates the integration of raw human emotion and its technological tendencies.