Sunday, September 13, 2009

Consonance: on Peter's 'God, the World's Future'

“Epigenic movement is understood as creative of the new, as self-organizing, as opening up new paths and rendering possible new choices, as creating freedom for the future…” (19).

So Peters articulates the possibilities inherent in our current intellectual climate, a summer not only of warmth but of promises that warmth will globally increase. The postmodern garden does not let ideas slide into calcified autumnal systems but encourages vine to spring from vine.

Gardeners have little to do and are not asked for, because the garden is more than the individual plants seeded in the modern spring. The plants, as they always do, are getting away from us, like the stream that bursts from the ground in Genesis, the one that even God does not ask for.

Now we lay aside our hoes, our plows and let the garden make its rules and exceed our expectations. For while the rules of the garden are entirely its own, they are quite relentless. “The pull of the future,’ is as essential to the life of an organism as the “push of the past…’” Whereas the chief components of the factory lose energy each time they operate and have never in any case overcome this problem, the plants of the garden move from seed to stem to seed because this is what they do.

The garden gardens. This occurs not because Garden falls to earth from Eden (there is no going back) nor because there is a Garden toward which all plants, in rising, must converge, (there is no telos) but because all the gardens to which all plants must contribute are always already gardening. There are only gardens which demand to be understood as such; everything else, by imposing, must reduce. There can be no more comprehending of them as particular plants or permutations of the soil.

What then of the gardener, without whom this tangling of vines is naught but wilderness? Little to do is not nothing to do. The garden by definition is not finished. It is growing. That is what gardens do. How is the garden gardening? It is growing toward itself, the vines are intertwining and might choke each other. Is this the true garden, where half its plants are dead? Or is the garden toward which the garden gardens in the imagination of the gardener?

He or she has seen the plan(t)s ahead of time, not in a schematic, but in perhaps a painting by Monet which the gardener does not want to replicate but to inspirate, to breathe in and through. He or she (or he and she) wishes to move the garden toward the garden that has moved them, the garden that this garden always could have been, and could still be, because this promise of a garden is the garden’s truest self, the one that they once planted not in determination but in hope and fear and trembling.

And, in all honesty, in some naivety. Monet never hoed a row in his entire life. His promised garden is a lie; it simply isn’t practical. So the gardeners must ask themselves if they would destroy the garden or the painting, and soon see that the assumptions of the painting cannot hold in a garden or at least not in this one. They might ask themselves if they are good gardeners or maybe even bad gardeners, if they have been wise or foolish with planting and with sun and water but the answers in a way do not matter because answers do not garden or make them better gardeners.

The painting, they decide, was only a beginning (however good it was). But they are not Monet and Monet was not a gardener. They have never seen a garden like Monet’s, however much they like it. Perhaps they despair a while as they realize that a garden in the mind is much different from a garden around the self and there is no necessary link between the two; it is too much to ask, too much to accomplish. The painting will stay a painting; the garden will remain in weeds.

But they should not lose heart! Because they do not have to garden Monet’s garden; they only have to plant the garden Monet inspired in them, and this is a very nearer thing. It is a risk, a peril; they are no longer planting from a drawing. But it is also guarantee, because now the garden growing can shape the growing garden of their minds.

Losing inspiration, they have found it restored twofold, they work from plan and plant in kind. They can stop worrying about their gardening and learn to love the garden, to ask: what does it need to be most beautiful, what can we do for this strange new wonder?

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