| March 20, 2014 | 2 Comments

Computers. Desks. Doors. Papers. Streets. Phones. Pictures. Books. Stairs. Beds. Refrigerators.

Arguments. Essays. Policy. Science. Education. Logic. Reason. Language.

Not only are we making squares and rectangles, but we’re also learning to think in them, too. We make things that are logical, efficient, and cost-effective and we’re always pushed to think in this way. What’s the opportunity cost of spending one hour at the beach or working on a paper? How can I use words to convince, reason, or persuade in my argument?

Now, take a walk in the woods. Just look at a tree, a leaf, a stone, anything not made by human efficiency. Think of how long it took a rock to form in the earth, how many years of rain or river weathered it down to be perfectly smooth–not so efficient, eh? Not quite so reasonable. Imagine how ridiculous it would seem for a businessman to say, “We can make 2,000 of these rocks identical in perfect spheres for only $500 and put them on the trail!” What a tragedy that would be.


Where nothing is homogeneous

Where nothing is homogeneous

I like the nonsense of nature. I like how every leaf has its own shape, every creek its own path, every bird its own unique set of feathers. Although an architect may find it crazy, I like the instability and wave of the trees against the wind in front of the immovable steel building behind it. I like the odd shapes of lakes, clouds, and continents on a map.

We take roads to get from A to B instead of for the ride. We mass-produce computers, cars, and food to live life on a screen, on the way somewhere, or to sustain existence. We use words to convince, persuade, and reason an indescribable, natural hope for human rights. We listen to digital music on the computer that used to be live and send Facebook messages instead of letters in our natural, unique handwriting. Perhaps sense is really nonsense. Maybe our thought bubbles are really just unusual puzzle pieces that we try to force together. We crunch and we shove–but they never quite fit.

What if we embraced each puzzle piece as a masterpiece and left it at that? We could make roads that go in circles, or buildings like trees. We could go back to the chaos that makes you you, me me, and life somehow existent through a crazy, nonlinear turn of astronomical and biological events. Nonsense.


(feature photo credit:

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Category: Art and Literature, featured, Nature, Philosophy and Religion

About the Author ()

Shannon originally hails from Hotlanta and still adjusting to the inclement winter weather in Boston. Shannon studies International Relations and Environmental Analysis and Policy, focusing on African and development. Shannon wants to see the world transformed, starting with herself. When she's not watching Cool Runnings, you can typically find Shannon wandering around aimlessly, swing dancing, or lounging around on her hammock.

Comments (2)

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  1. Jeff Fox says:

    I understand what you’re getting at- the natural world doesn’t fit into the boxes that humanity prefers, and we should embrace that. But I had a strong response to the description of nature’s work as nonsense. The universe is logical. Humans have uncovered the process behind countless astronomical and biological phenomena. For the stuff that’s left over, we’re working on it. Nature makes perfect sense, even if we don’t understand it yet.

    I think the more awe-inspiring way to look at nature and the universe is how impossible it is for us, or anything really, to exist. Even though everything has a pretty logical process, the probability of the past 13+ billion years of the universe playing out in the exact way that it needed to for us to be alive is literally zero. And yet, here we are. You point that out, of course, but I disagree with calling it chaos.

    • shannonwj says:

      Thanks Jeff… Point taken!

      Nature isn’t really nonsense– but it is in the way that we see it in our limited, short-term perspective. Biodiversity makes complete sense, especially in the long-run, which is why there are so many species that are essential to every ecosystem. With more variety and diversity, it’s more stable. It’s more resilient. Each species has evolved in specific ways that allows it to be more competitive in a world with limited resources. I completely agree- it makes sense, but there’s no way we can fully comprehend how nature operates. (We should always study biology, of course!)

      I guess I was trying to get more at how humanity has it wrong in terms of mass production. We don’t see the value of biodiversity. We use mono-cropping, which is sure to fail at some point. What’s more efficient and productive in the short-run may not necessarily be what’s best in the long-run. So, I concur, nature’s not nonsense… It’s more sense than we are in many ways.

      I just wrote this in somewhat of a rant, trying to describe a feeling instead of making an argument for something awe-inspiring. Hence, my frustration with arguments and even, at some level, language.

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