While walking in the forest yesterday, I looked at the trees, shrubs, and ground cover, and there was this specific little shrub that I have been walking past many times. He is lush green, very dense, and has beautifully shaped leaves. I felt tempted to dig him out and plant him in my forest garden. Yet, I knew that I couldn’t expect to uproot plants, replant them in my garden and expect them to thrive in the same way. Once I take them out of their environment, they would likely be less lush green, less dense, and maybe even less beautiful.
It reminded me of fractal-ing vs. scaling, which I talked about last week. Scaling would be analogous to taking the shrub and replanting him, ideally, all over the world. Fractal-ing would be to identify the patterns that make him so lush green, dense and beautiful. On a superficial level, that would offer nutrient-rich soil, sufficient sun, and water, and maybe introducing predators that forage him regularly. Fractal-ing includes identifying relationships. It’s a relational practice.
Scaling is uprooting without consideration of the environment. Fractal-ing is re-rooting spores and seeds through pattern repetition.
The idea of uprooting also made me think of philosophy. Just as we can’t expect plants to thrive when uprooted and placed somewhere new, a philosophy can’t be uprooted and thrive when planted elsewhere. A philosophy, taken out of context, is not practical. For example, part of the industrial philosophy is that economic growth leads to happiness. If only we work harder, we will thrive and live in prosperity. This was probably true at one point in history in certain parts of the world. But applying that same philosophy today, when we face social and ecological upheaval and become aware that endless growth is an impossible quest, the philosophy loses its roots. Just as plants, philosophies have to be rooted in the environment. They need to be context-specific — of time and space and relationships. If they are not and taken out of relation, we experience a sense of meaninglessness.
The sense of meaninglessness emerges through a disconnect from my environment. When the philosophy I used to live by doesn’t align with my environment, I am losing my existential moorings. How then can my philosophy then grow roots in my backyard? What are the nutrients my philosophy needs to thrive? How can the spores from existing philosophies impregnate mine?