July 09, 2009

The creature that wins against its environment

Walking my legs to stumps in Kyoto and Osaka. The picture is of the woodwork in part of the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, which I'll write up later.

I've had the quote below in my notebook and ready to post for some time, and at first I thought it was unrelated to the temple, but going over it there's a connection with some of the ideas that play out again and again in Mishima, with the hero finding victory in self-destruction.

....the ideas which dominate our civilization at the
present time date in their most virulent form from the
Industrial Revolution. They may be summarized as:

(a) It's us against the environment.

(b) It's us against other men.

(c) It's the 'individual' (or the individual company, or
the individual nation) that matters.

(d) We can have unilateral control over the environment and must strive for that control.

(e) We live within an infinitely expanding "frontier."

(f) Economic determinism is common sense.

(g) Technology will do it for us.

We submit that these ideas are simply proved false by the great but ultimately destructive achievements of our technology in the last 150 years. Likewise they appear to be false under modern ecological theory. The creature that wins against its environment destroys itself.
Gregory Bateson, cut/pasted from here, and also in Steps to an Ecology of Mind [my bold].

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