Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Wise Words: The Wild

… The wild disappears from view when we place ourselves in charge …

It appears to me that what wild actually means is the opposite of undisciplined and crude. It means extremely sophisticated

… The wild is the real, and the real is where we go for form and meaning. Meaning doesn’t originate with us. When we are actually speaking, what we say has form and meaning, and those, at root, are not man-made.

The wild isn’t something to conquer or subdue; it’s something to try to live up to: a standard better than gold. Humans are part of it, and in the long run have no choice but to be so. In the short run, of course, we can try to opt out. We can pretend to be children of god or creatures from outer-space, free to leave when our term is up — but what we really are is earthlings. We can also pretend to be so intelligent that we know how to manage the planet more effectively than the planet can manage itself. Those who grow up, as most of us have, in industrialized economies and colonial regimes, are encouraged to think there is no other choice than to take control and manage the planet. But there is another choice. That choice is to participate in the biosphere, learning enough about it to recognize and accept that we can never be anything more than junior partners: a few million or billion human cells in a brain the size of the planet. Right now those human cells are acting like a cancer, a tumor in the wise, old brain of planet earth.

… Your only hope, when you are really cut off from the wild, is to rejoin it. The wild is the biosphere: this tiny hollow ball which is the only place in the universe where you are I are free to be what we are.

(Robert Bringhurst, ‘Wild Language’, in The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind and Ecology, Counterpoint: Berkeley, 2006/2008, pp. 262, 264 and 268–269)


  1. Thank you for sharing these words. I am constantly dismayed and frustrated by the hubris of mainstream culture toward the "wise old brain of planet Earth." I want to shout every time I hear the suggestion that, instead of correcting our relationship with this planet, we rocket off to another one (and presumably destroy it as well). It plays out so unthinkingly and smugly in so many ways that it makes me quite frantic.

    1. I'm the same. I get quite infuriated with any talk of space colonisation, as if it is our destiny as humans to invade (and then destroy) as many places in the universe as possible. If we can't be trusted with earth, we shouldn't be trusted with anywhere else. We're earthlings. We belong here.


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