Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition by Robert Pogue Harrison

By Robert Pogue Harrison

People have lengthy grew to become to gardens—both genuine and imaginary—for sanctuary from the push and tumult that surrounds them. these gardens should be as distant from daily fact as Gilgamesh’s backyard of the gods or as close to as our personal yard, yet of their very notion and the marks they endure of human care and cultivation, gardens stand as restorative, nourishing, valuable havens.
With Gardens, Robert Pogue Harrison graces readers with a considerate, wide-ranging exam of the various methods gardens evoke the human situation. relocating from from the gardens of old philosophers to the gardens of homeless humans in modern big apple, he indicates how, repeatedly, the backyard has served as a payment opposed to the destruction and losses of history.  The ancients, explains Harrison, seen gardens as either a version and a place for the onerous self-cultivation and self-improvement which are necessary to serenity and enlightenment, an organization that has endured in the course of the a long time. The Bible and Qur’an; Plato’s Academy and Epicurus’s backyard institution; Zen rock and Islamic carpet gardens; Boccaccio, Rihaku, Capek, Cao Xueqin, Italo Calvino, Ariosto, Michel Tournier, and Hannah Arendt—all come into play as this paintings explores the ways that the concept that and truth of the backyard has knowledgeable human puzzling over mortality, order, and gear.

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Extra resources for Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition

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And now smash it with a pick-axe, cut it with a spade, break it with a hammer, turn it over and labour, cursing aloud and lamenting. Then you will understand the animosity and callousness of dead and sterile matter which ever did defend itself, and still does, against becoming a soil of life; and you will realize what a terrible fight life must have undergone, inch by inch, to take t h e h u m a n g a r d e n e r 3 31 root in the soil of the earth, whether that life be called vegetation or man.

In that respect, it is a not a good custodian of the future. If life is indeed a subset of gardening, rather than the other way around, then there is every reason to believe that if humankind has to entrust its future to anyone, it should entrust it to the gardener, or to those who, like the gardener, invest themselves in a future of which they will in part be the authors, though they will not be around to witness its full unfolding: The gardener wants eleven hundred years to test, learn to know, and appreciate fully what is his.

This gathering power helps explains why gardens not only are topics and sites of conversation but are explicitly associated with the very ideal of conversation in many Western and non-Western texts alike. Although no interlocutor seems to be present in them, the transitory gardens of New York also partake in this spirit of social intercourse. Insofar as they embody an affirmation, declare their human authorship, invite recognition, and call for a response, they represent speech acts, not in the banal sense of making “social statements” but in the sense of militating against and triumphing over a condition of speechlessness.

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