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End of nature

In what sense is nature ended? It is not just that natural environments have been polluted, over-managed, or subjected to human control, but nature has changed its meaning. This question provides a further touch point for nature and semiotics. Writing in the 1980s, environmental writer Bill McKibben said of nature that it  “is now a category like … Continue reading

Network Nature

The blog medium invites disclosures about work in progress. So here’s the how the table of contents is shaping up for my new book: Coyne , Richard. Network Nature: Digital Technology and the Semiotics of Place. London: Bloomsbury.  The draft is due end of March, including 30 illustrations, and it is on track so far. Table of … Continue reading

What is nature for?

Nature means different things to different people. The meaning depends on the context of discussion and action. According to geographers Phil Macnaghten and John Urry in their book Contested Natures, nature has to be negotiated. So we are entitled to ask what nature is for — as a concept. I’ve identified at least two main discursive uses of the … Continue reading

Web of nature

Networks are everywhere. “Always think of the universe as one living organism,” said Marcus Aurelius the Stoic philosopher (and Roman Emperor — one of the good ones), “Remark the intricacy of the skein, the complexity of the web” (73). I’ve referenced this before. The sentiment is simple: if you only realised how interconnected your circumstances were to … Continue reading

Nature as the site of hermeneutical play

Metaphors can be playful, and observers of nature commonly refer to metaphors of play: “we find talk of the play of light, the play of the waves,” and “the play of gnats” (104). This is a passing reference to play in nature by the hermeneutical philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer as he affirmed the importance and ubiquity of play. … Continue reading

Shakespeare on nature

There’s not much in Shakespeare that extolls the beautiful, sacred and sublime in nature. That came much later with the Romantics, and in contemporary performances and adaptations. The BBC aired a production of A Midsummer-Night’s Dream last month. It was abridged and adapted for television by Russell T Davies with a punk fairy Dr Who element. Of note, the attendants in the court … Continue reading

Reading the book of nature

“Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.” How do you read nature? Nature is a system of signs after all. The theory of signs (semiotics) is interesting not least as it repositions the discussion of nature away from the reductive notion of data towards the totality of experience (see post One … Continue reading

One with nature

“Architecture answers to the human need to become one with nature,” headlines a blog post reporting a speculative project featuring houses covered in foliage. To be “one with nature” still has currency in this high tech age. The phrase has several uses, e.g. to indicate: an attitude and set of practices in which people recognise their co-dependence … Continue reading

Nature in retrospect

I’ve just caught up with Thunderbirds Are Go, the recent remake of the futuristic 1960s Thunderbirds marionette series. This new series meshes CGI models of puppet-like humans with physical models of rockets, cars, roads islands and cities. So it’s very high tech (from Weta) made to look like tech from 50 years ago. The CGI … Continue reading

Nature games

Can you learn about nature from computer games? According to one commentator, video games “remind us of how we create, and have always created, ‘nature.’ They signpost the virtuality of the real. They show our seemingly endemic proclivities to make over the natural” (411). That’s from cultural theorist John Wills writing about video gaming in 2002: … Continue reading

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