Lesson #47: The constance of entropy

Photo by Rosmarie Voegtli

It must have been early high school science when we learnt about entropy and the idea that things move towards chaos. I remember watching the specks moving through the air (maybe that was a different lesson) and the way my bedroom was always messy .. and this idea of things moving towards entropy has really stuck with me. I guess we see it in all sorts of ways. The way nature takes over if we don’t intervene.

A university elective I became quite obsessed with was called ‘The Culture of Nature’. It was part of my architecture degree, though it referred more to landscape design, but really it explored the idea of human control of nature in all sorts of ways .. going back to the Bible and earlier.

This whole idea of nature and culture still fascinates me. I love nature, it’s untamed beauty, it’s wildness, it organic and harmonious shapes, it’s spontaneous and innocent expression. And then I also love culture and the clarity and redefinement, the human interventions, the order and refinement.

These days I see ‘nature’, the wild element, the state of chaos, as ‘feminine’, and ‘culture’, with it’s structures and order, and human intervention as ‘masculine’.

I still have my two folders of notes from that ‘Culture of Nature’ course. It’s been about 17 years since I did that course so it’s high time I cleared those notes. But as I do I will see whether there is a new message I can glean from the course to carry forward.

Finding a healthy balance between order and chaos, masculine and feminine, man and nature, is an important consideration as the planet approaches 8 billion people and our wealth and prosperity and impact on the planet continues to grow. Is there a tipping point and have we gone past it?

This is a topic that is growing in urgency. I will return to my Culture of Nature notes tomorrow and choose an avenue to explore further.

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