18 August 2001 the future of nature

18:40: The future of the cityforest is the future of nature says Hans, the man in the woods*.

The caretaker looks at Hans. Do you mean to say that cityforest is the future of everything? he asks.

Thank you very much, says Hans, you've put the words into my mouth.

At this he reaches for a piece of grass and puts that in his mouth also. I used to suck grass when I lived in the woods, he says - it's better than words. And it's better than cigarettes when you are trying to answer questions about everything. Not as good as food and drink though. But I am immune to law and to morality. Some say that I'm a successor to Moses and to Plato but I'm too simple minded for that.

You are not simple, says the caretaker - you can think any words the writer lets you say or write... so I'd like to know your answer to yesterday's question. That's what you're here for:
How do these fine and terrible things relate?

What things, says Hans.

The caretaker clicks on the the writing that led to that question and invites Hans to write answers to each part of it, as if it were an email:

Thank you very much says Hans, if you don't mind me sucking grass while I do it. ...'Long pause while he reads', he murmurs, smiling:

As I look about - at these trees and green leaves against grey clouds and blue sky, at the brown leaves already fallen and crumpled - and as I hear and imagine the city that surrounds this protected forest* with its blackberry bushes and wild birds and small animals, and the people who enjoy it as I do ... as I take in and imagine all this, and more, I realise that its surprising wildness is exceeded only by its artificiality, in that its presence, and mine in it, is maintained at immense cost, a triumph perhaps of collective wisdom despite the fortunes that could be rapidly gained by cutting down the trees and building on it.

Hans: I see. I think that you people of post-modern time as you call it are confused about what is natural and what is not. To me the word means the growing and living and changing of all the things that are the world. What is unnatural is what puts a stop to these changes. The city walls if you like, and the divisions of thought into subjects and classes.

But thanks to the romantics of the nineteenth century, reacting against the materialism of industry and in favour of the materialism of nature (and without help from religion?), this empty heathland (which became spontaneous forest) has been preserved and is alive and is becoming more wild (in the sense of being more forested) year by year (apart from the resisted efforts of its guardians to cut down trees and to clear undergrowth**).

Hans: Yes, it was fortunate that romantic ideas led people to preserve this forest in a city. But can the city itself be made free to change and to grow flexible and adaptive like the forest? That would be something good - is it happening? I fear for you if it isn't.

Hans spits out the straw and emits a fart.

As I wrote that long paragraph (or connecting thought) I was thinking also of what I am presently reading of that enormous and perhaps harsh effort of Friedrich Nietzsche to expose false goodness in religion and in humanism and to put the 'eternal return' of imperfect nature (which includes people and cities, bad or good) in the place of that false goodness of 'gentle Jesus' and in the idealism of Plato and his Republicand other fictions. (But this is a fiction also!)

Hans: This man Nietzsche is my friend - he knows something of nature. He does not see it as brutal or benign but as immune to this distinction. Like me he includes everything in nature and accepts things as they are... but I'm not used to such discussions in which ideas are supposed to be objects. What we see and we say and we do, in small ways or large, is all magic and struggle and confusion and sometimes wonderful - and it changes the world as it changes our ways of seeing and hearing and feeling it... I can't say much more for the moment. I need an imaginative storyworld to thrive in and this discussion's not it!

And now, in the silence of the night and of the cave, as they were before electricity or even candles, the digital diary comes of age. It awaits maturity and initiation and for these it may return to the records of its birth before it takes its place in the lives of those who may find it and read it.

* Hans was conceived in the electric book and appears briefly on pages XXX to XXX of the printed edition of the interent and everyone. At first he could only say 'thank you very much' but now he he's becoming able to invent words and answers for all occasions. Some think he is under-educated and simple but others think he has natural intelligence. He is a close friend of every living thing, and of Friedrich Nietzsche - whom he has revived from terminal insanity.