the Natural and the Unnatural

the Natural and the Unnatural

For the most part of my life, I live in urban area with rare adventures to the nature. The lack in experience of wildness contributes to my sentiment toward nature, the one that Frankenstein shares when he goes to the mountains to cure his trauma, the awe to its sublimity and beauty. Thus, when I speak of my love for nature, I have in mind the “romantic aesthetics” of nature rather than comfortableness. (Cox, p.2) Living in a city entails less drudgery than living in a woods, not to mention that modern people living in the woods usually depend on the existence of cities and modern industry. For me, I guess, short time in wildness can be wonderful while long term would be an affliction.

However, I am concerned with the city’s comfortableness. I feel that urban life alienates people away from what should have been part of their lives. For example, food provided in the city is usually prepared, so urban residents often do not personally know, except from images, the original plants. For another example, the air-conditioning makes temperature constant though seasons. These phenomena represent a reduction in our realm of life. I am worried what some sci-fi depicts would come true that people in the future may eat melons without ever seeing a real intact melon. I am worried that people become less sensitive to natural phenomenon and could not fully appreciate some beautiful passages on the nature. I am worried that people take their everyday life so much for granted that they think of what is unnatural as natural and normal.

City is not intact in itself, and I hope to embrace a whole reality. I deal with my concern on a personal level. For example, I try to use air-conditioning as less as possible, not only to save energy, but also to connect myself more with the natural world. Last summer, I went to work on a farm where I take care of vegetables and pigs.

Now it seems my comfortability influences what I value in a devious way.


When I talk about take everyday life for granted, I have in mind Jed Purdy’s critique on taking Anthropocene as “the new normal” (Purdy 2015, p.5).

Cox, Robert and Phaedra C. Pezzullo. “Chapter 2.” Environmental communication and the public sphere, 4th Edition. Sage publications. 2016.

Purdy, J. After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA. 2015.



European colonialists initially were scared of and threatened by nature, but a love of nature arose once European settlers felt a distance from nature in their everyday lives. Do you feel more comfortable in the woods or downtown in a city? Why do you think that is so? Does your comfortability shape what you value?


One thought on “the Natural and the Unnatural

  1. Zhengtao Qu Post author

    Adam’s piece mentions and reminds me of the Richard Louv’s opinion of nature as “essential for emotionally and physically healthy human development”, which resonates with what I am thinking. However, rather than emotional and physical health, I am trying to indicate nature’s significance in our development of cognitive health, which may or may not be the same to emotional health. I would imagine that people can still be emotionally fine to live in an environment of total human production. (Duke Garden doesn’t count of course. I am talking about the kind of human production without ecological concept in it.) However, in such an environment, people are losing diversity in both environmental and cultural domains.

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