The above image was made with stable diffusion using the prompt 'fractal patterns in the ruins of a city overgrown by nature.'
As humans, we evolved to interact and appreciate the web of life in which we're embedded. This love of life has been referred to as biophilia, arising in both an ontogenic and a phylogenetic sense. Strangely, our anthropogenic artificial environments and landscapes typically fail to accommodate our biophilia. This has negative implications for health, involving heightened stress responses and related inflammation.
For me personally, being immersed in environments assembled from unnatural textures and right angles stresses me out. The effect is most pronounced during cluster headaches, when having my bare feet on the ground and looking at plants markedly reduces the perceived severity of headache attacks. But it's also noticeable every time I visit a suburb. Suburban landscapes make me feel lost and dizzy and just plain wrong, in an animal way.
Recently, I learned that plastic pollution has entered our planet's geological processes. Here's a quote from an article about that:
Geologist Fernanda Avelar Santos was startled to find an unsettling sign of human impact on the otherwise untouched landscape: rocks formed from the glut of plastic pollution floating in the ocean. ... She and her team's study, published in September in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, classified the new kind of "rocks" found worldwide into several types: "plastiglomerates," similar to sedimentary rocks; "pyroplastics," similar to clastic rocks; and a previously unidentified type, "plastistones," similar to igneous rocks formed by lava flow. "Marine pollution is provoking a paradigm shift for concepts of rock and sedimentary deposit formations," her team wrote. "Human interventions are now so pervasive that one has to question what is truly natural."
The idea of rocks made of plastic is disturbing. But the idea does have a somewhat hopeful implication. Geological processes are taking plastic pollution and making it nature-shaped. So maybe exposure to the elements can make other artifacts of human folly nature-shaped on a long enough timeline.
Biophilia evolved in us for good reasons, yet the vast majority of Americans seem totally desensitized to their body's innate love for life. Some people never even step out of their artificial environments, and are so disconnected from their bodies that they can't conceive of experiencing themselves as part of the larger web of life. Everything about modern land use practices is more necrophilic than biophilic. There are whole industries whose sole purpose is to spray poison on everything, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
It is of course possible to incorporate biophilia into the design of everything from furniture and appliances to buildings and parks. A love for life was historically encoded into traditional crafts and some forms of architecture, and there's no good reason it can't be reintroduced. Maybe biophilia is more expensive to embody than the ethos of mechanical death that rules our culture. Yet I feel like embracing life would be worth the cost.
Here's a quote from a great piece by Connor Wood on the subject:
Biophilia implies a preference for self-similarity or fractal forms whose structures repeat themselves across scales, as in the trunk, limbs, branches, twigs, and finally veins in the leaves of trees. We humans like fractal patterns so much that observing them alleviates physiological stress and even reduces fatigue. Perhaps not coincidentally, older, traditional building styles, such as Gothic churches and medieval mosques, were chock-full of fractal patterns. By comparison ... few modern or postmodern buildings use the natural patterns our perceptual systems are optimized for.
Our culture's anti-life design choices are largely products of expedience. But part of me wonders if there isn't some nefarious intelligence behind these choices. The failure to satisfy our evolved biophilia creates a baseline level of psychological stress in our population. This could negatively impact critical thinking skills. And if it leaves us more prone to fatigue, that could also make it more difficult for us to do something about societal problems we encounter.
To be honest, I highly doubt that evil central planners are using their positions of power to consciously undermine our biophilia. But I do think that there are central planners and many other types of people unconsciously choosing death over life as they carry out their duties. They hate the messy reality of actual life, preferring the sterility of death, because it looks cleaner to their eyes.
Read my novels:
- Small Gods of Time Travel is available as a web book on IPFS and as a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt.
- The Paradise Anomaly is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Psychic Avalanche is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- One Man Embassy is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Flying Saucer Shenanigans is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Rainbow Lullaby is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- The Ostermann Method is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Blue Dragon Mississippi is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
See my NFTs:
- Small Gods of Time Travel is a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt that goes with my book by the same name.
- History and the Machine is a 20 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on my series of oil paintings of interesting people from history.
- Artifacts of Mind Control is a 15 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on declassified CIA documents from the MKULTRA program.