For a long time I have been wrestling with the idea of Nature. Similar to the idea of art, it seems foolish to try to define the boundaries of what it is and is not. Sometimes it is easy to look back on both nature and art and see what it used to be, but it is almost impossible to define today. I plan to write a series of reflections on this question. Today I am writing in response to an essay in Next Nature by Tracy Metz.
The entire book is grounded on the idea that nature is more than culture's idea of wilderness. The book identifies the human interference with the natural world that we are ourselves a part of. Starting from this building block Tracy Metz brings up a few excellent points.
The title "Nature is an Agreement" points out that the fictional existence of nature is an idea or an image that we create. It is other than us, controlled by us, but yet dangerous. Nature is what we agree nature is.
We manage to forget that we have never left this idea that we call nature. We consider it a distant and exotic place to avoid the guilt of our surroundings.
Metz identifies the next nature to be a virtual one. The image is no longer what we travel to, but one that travels to us. It's on tv, radio, and at the store. The concept that we have of nature is market of fictional places and virtual memories.