Thursday, December 8, 2016

The refuge

I wonder if the concept of
'species' doesn't sometimes
get in the way of understand-
ing the effect humans are hav-
ing on the natural world.

After all, a species endures
even as the individuals that
make it up come and go. But
sometimes the word implies
that the collective whole -
the generality of goldfinches,
say - matters more than the in-
dividual. Only when a species
dwindles to its final numbers
do the individuals seem to be-
come, well, individual.

Reviewing a new and stimulat-
ing work of natural history
this week, our outstanding es-
sayist on the rural life has
written movingly of defending
the natural world through joy
in its autonomous qualities,
in "nature's right to itself."

At the same time, exultation
in restraint is unanswerably
exemplary resistance. Human-
ism is restored to the agenda.
To be despised for being fit,
will not be anything new; the
spectacle must always antagon-
be readier for their governance
than they are, is joy enough.

Verlyn Klinkenborg
Michael McCarthy
The Moth Snowstorm:
  Nature and Joy
New York Review Books, 2016
The New York Review
  of Books
December 22, 2016© 

i  Damon Winter, photography
   The New York Times, 2016©


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