online: january 2002
modified: 20 may 2002, 24 january, 13 december 2005


What is afternature asked the almighty but the voices of the many did not reply. Let's keep him out of this they say to themselves we don't have to explain for our new life has no gods and no kings and no supremacy - that's all we know at the moment for this is only the first paragraph.

What is afternature (and what is literature) - is this it... (or is it afternoon)?... It depends where you are in time and space and culture. For we are the ones, every one of us.

There was a hush as we changed from being the sub-creatures that we were to the new beings that we have become as the recreators and the artists and the extensions of nature. This is a sacred moment, as is any and every one, from now onwards in the orchard.

This, the story of our lives, is the same thing as life itself as we model what we do upon trust in the unknowable and upon the thoughts and the actions of the ones we still respect in the history of those days when this becoming was prepared by certain people* who looked far without leaving the reality of nature as it then was as they became it and improved it where they could despite imposed constraints in the lives of each one of them... We know no myths apart from theirs that leave us free to live this story ...

...many words placed end to end as something struggles to be born as afternature. The word itself exists already** but the life that corresponds is not yet in evident process as continuous change released from rule or fate or doom as each one realises what it is to be, as well as to shape, the nature of existence. These words are not easy to write, pronounce or follow guided only by distant precedents and random notes and the rhythm of each phrase and of each sentence. This is one. This is another.

Paragraph six. This writing is not a fantasy in the sense of escape from the reality of industrial living or its exaggeration into dystopian stories of evil or well-intentioned powers in total control and all such hopelessness. It is instead a small attempt in words alone to rediscover or create whatever can be done in each moment freed from god or king or even queen or daddy or mummy or boss or sir or madam as the wrong labels that we reified and obeyed in our fears of being outside the realm of creation as approved by authority... and now we proceed without the fall or false regress that in the past defined each one as a sub-creature subject to control and as a sub-controller and sub-user of enslaved fractions of nature, namely our reduced presences and artefacts employed as tools or instruments of mechanised living... but now those old ways and old times can be over!

But... but... before we can make any move in this marriage or rebirth of nature and culture we must ask if any of us have the calm and the resolve to let it happen?

Can we recreate the family of man and woman and the children of the future free of sin and hierarchy and awfulness? Darn your own sox and keep to your own sex says the old man at the keys in words of one syllable but the people ignore his commands and leave the cities and the factories and the farms and the banks and the schools and the offices etc. and assemble outside the old culture... men women children pets and even credit cards and mobile phones and recycled mythologies as they sit and wait for the next chapter. But who is the god of all this and why are we still passive? which the gods and leaders disappear into the unknowable future of nature expanding and becoming evident in the action and presence of each one of us and in the right use of our selves and of our technologies and of our times!

* the first precedents that came to mind were those of William Blake, S T Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, William Morris, John Ruskin, Frank Lloyd Wright, Gertrude Stein, Walter Gropius, Buckminster Fuller, Charles and Ray Eames, Hannah Arendt, Joseph Beuys and John Cage... but there must be others such in languages and cultures and occupations I'm not familiar with... and many not well-known who enlarged and sweetened life despite its fragmentation. This writing is in thanks for their example.

20 May 2002: And now, while getting to know the thoughts of Benedictus de Spinoza, I realise that he too was one of the precedents for afternature (though he took it as timeless) in that he identifies Nature with God and projects the two as a unity transcending the dualisms of modernity beyond which I am writing... (see digital diary entries for 15th, 17th and 19th may 2002)

(25 January 2002: having just discovered and quoted some of Maya Deren's theories of nature and film-making. I link them to this page as they are so uncannily close to these thoughts of afternature - though they were written in 1946.)

** I thought I had coined the word afternature but, on searching the web via Google, I found that it was used by Gretchen Allbrecht in 1985 to name a retrospective touring exhibition of her work from the Serjeant Gallery in Wanganui, New Zealand. See her website

She tells me that she used the word to mean both from nature and beyond it. I suppose I am using it to imply that artificial things are extensions of nature, not alternatives to it... and because I like the word in itself.

digital diary dates


(c) 2002 john chris jones

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