The Desynchronization & Disenchantment Of The Human Relationship To Trees

Trees fruiting and providing hominids with their needs in ephemeral fashion would have been one of the many wondrous dimensions that existed in the backdrop of our ancestor’s primal experience in the forests. If edible fruit were on the tree or on the ground, they were eaten, and if there were no immediate availability, the group moved on, probably forgetting all but the vaguest ideas of that particular time and locale. The intervening time when the hominids were off exploring other realms, keeping their migration and eating rhythm constant but with alterations in food flavors and colors, trees would continue on through the other portions of their seasonal cycles, fulfilling their own oscillations of generation and reproduction. Because this relationship had to be sustainable—just like with any ecosystemic relationship—the efficiency of hominid migratory trajectories had to coincide with the harvestable time ranges for a given locale and they would usually land on a place that had some food to keep them going. In this way, hominids were the spatially moving targeteers aiming at a stationary but temporally dynamic target. Symbiosis could be maintained as long as hominids had a broad enough range to spread out their needs for immediate and ephemeral food sources, or if they were in small enough groups to not need too wide of a range (perhaps the latter possibility is where some original conceptual dissonance between trees and humans could have emerged).

Why Did This Relationship Sour?

Above is painted a crude but sufficient description of millions of years when hominids and protohominids migrated in seasonal sync with an adequately large territory to produce a sustainable pattern and enduring ecosystem; they wouldn’t have had a ripe possibility to conceptually analyze a single tree down to a banal object. It must be supposed that changes happened to disrupt or alter hominid migration rhythms to where they were now stranded on a new island formed by natural disaster, or a drought or year of great plenty concentrated them in a smaller or restricted area; or, another supposition is that the proto-humans chose to stay in a particular area (because of cultural developments?). Whatever the reason(s), and whether they be listed here or not, occurring alone or in concert, there eventually emerged enduring changes in how humans came to regard trees in quite a different light, which at base was resultant from new rhythms in the interactions between the humans and the forests.

Specific individual trees, as well as specific tree species, would have been normalized in the human experience like never before. With a more localized (less nomadic) living situation, we would have been in proximity to the trees for a longer part of their seasonal cycle, and would now come to behold uninteresting (or too interesting, to be explained later) slow changes in trees when they weren’t providing us with fruit. Those parts of the human mind that ask “what more can I get out of this?” would be activated, wondering what other uses a tree has since they are frustratingly slow in offering their fruits again. Normalization would allow trees to become deleveraged, banal objects, offering themselves to creative manipulation. A tree becomes its wood, its bark, and its possibilities as dead wood to grow fruiting mushroom bodies; a tree also becomes magical, seeming to have some spirit that causes something seemingly unchanging to change. A tree caste system might have emerged, where privileged trees (those seemingly more productive for human ends) would be favored, fostered, even worshiped and bestowed with qualities that weren’t actual. This unbalancing comes to show the twofold danger with this new unsustainable relationship to trees: trees would not only be analytically regarded sometimes as the sum of their parts, they also might have parts added on to their whole, imposing a foggy dogmatism and cultural evolution that would retard and stray humans further from an appropriate ecosystemic relationship to trees.

Summarization of the Problem

By a higher dose of interaction with specific trees that allowed their normalization/banalization by the concept-heavy humans, humans would come to add mediations to the observably slower plants around them that would come to blockade an accurate relationship. Trees would have both an elevated and diminished role in the minds of the humans who would dwell for long times in their presence, ranging from deities to mere timber resources. Forests could not be left to their own devices, as we see now with either preservation (including the non-passive interaction of burn suppression and “pest” removal) management, or with deforestation in to timber and building sites.

Wandering Where To Go

There are no forests unmapped, left to vague enchantment, as distinctly different from the interaction of our deep ancestors. There are options to not look at the maps, and not be entwined with all the forays of human industry and knowledge and to allow the original and unmediated enchantment enter when going on an adventure. I think we all still have the capacity to feel this as evidenced by the distinctly different feelings of being in a whole new place. To reclaim our minds from the doldrums of banalization, we ought to keep travelling before normalization sets in—movement is its own end… endlessness is its own end! If we step back, and keep stepping back, we can allow the rest of life on Earth to heal itself and then we will find simultaneously many of our wounds—physical and psychological—to be healing themselves too. A sedentary lifestyle for such a powerful, non-sedentary animal as humans, puts in peril the whole project of life on Earth.



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