Monday, October 28, 2013

Nature does not change

The One-Straw Revolution, by Masanobu Fukuoka, is a "manifesto about farming, eating, and the limits of human knowledge" that challenges our views on agriculture and how it fits into our (modern) way of living.
Few are able to grasp correctly that natural farming arises from the unmoving and unchanging center of agricultural development.

To the extent that people separate themselves from nature, they spin out further and further from the center. At the same time, a centripetal effect asserts itself and the desire to return to nature arises. But if people merely become caught up in reacting, moving to the left or to the right, depending on conditions, the result is only more activity. The non-moving point of origin, which lies outside the realm of relativity, is passed over, unnoticed. I believe that even "returning-to-nature" and anti-pollution activities, no matter how commendable, are not moving toward a genuine solution if they are carried out solely in reaction to the overdevelopment of the present age.

Nature does not change, although the way of viewing nature invariable changes from age to age. No matter the age, natural farming exists forever as the wellspring of agriculture.

And later,
There are always those who try to mix natural and scientific farming. But this way of thinking completely misses the point. The farmer who moves toward compromise can longer criticize science at the fundamental level.

Natural farming is gentle and easy and indicates a return to the source of farming. A single step away from the source can only lead one astray.

As if the point of our otherwise pointless lives is to aspire toward stillness.

I heard about this book when it was published as a New York Review Books classic a few years ago and it came up in relation to balcony gardening, which I was reading up on. Fukuoka's "do-nothing" philosophy has a great deal of appeal, although "do-nothing" is more work than it implies — more like "do no harm."

Fukuoka describes an epiphany he had that humanity knows nothing and that all our effort has no intrinsic value, is meaningless. I cannot help but relate this to my current readings on Socrates, Kierkegaard, and Hegel — having reached aporia, he intends to transmute it via negative action, not doing. Although nature does not change, Fukuoka states also that "nature is everywhere in perpetual motion"; he tries to achieve balance — a state (but, I think, not a process) of becoming.

I tend not to read much nonfiction but I am motivated because The One-Straw Revolution is a current book club selection. Come discuss it at Argo Bookshop tomorrow evening.

Larry Korn, a student of Fukuoka, and translator and editor of this book, has compiled several resources on Fukuoka and natural farming.

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