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Variation Under Nature

A while ago I attended a lecture on nationalism as the dominant ideology. I’ve also been reading a book which makes a similar contention called Banal Nationalism by Michael Billig.

It is like a bubble which surrounds the set of ideas we know how to talk about. A set of base reference points which we assume to be true in our language and the way we use it. We construct a whole range of cliches and motifs based around this reference point. We do very strange things, like planting a flag on the moon.

One of the conceits that I find the most pervasive is the seperation of humanity from nature. We, and I say this as a person exposed to the pesudo christian culture of north west europe, seem to have invented the most elaborate stories to confirm in our minds our special place in the universe.

There seems to be an assumption that we have transcended the process that created us. That somehow there was a great leap where evolution no longer applied. The modern human is the master of nature, and the products of his behaviour are artificial. We even describe some elements as not naturally occuring!

I don’t know exactly what it is that we think seperates humans from the rest of the universe. Maybe it is because we are able to behave rationally. But lots of other things seem to do that, some plants produce seeds that only activate after a fire has occured; the planet earth stays in its orbit and doesn’t go careening off into the sun on a whim. Maybe it is because we are aware of ourselves, we think we transcend mere existence. We do produce art.

But if this is the case, when did it occur? And why is it different from the pattern of a Coral Snake, or the Rings of Saturn? Because we imbue our creations with meaning? With non-literal culturally contextual meaning? Our creations are somehow less a part of the universe than the materials we make them from, or the medium we express them in? Do we really think we can somehow create meaning with an abstract existence outside of present reality.

Are we really just inhabitants?

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