The need to understand nature, in order to maintain our own survival as well as sate our curiosity, is central to human nature.
Nature simply exists, but knowledge invests it with functionality. The tobacco plant knows not what miseries and delights of which it is capable. Hemlock is ignorant of its toxicity, blind to its infamy.
Above: Shrine to Inari, the god of harvest and protector of plants
Man sanctifies “mother nature,” but she is deeply, eternally indifferent. And all of the temples and rites and celebrations intended for her are really for us alone.
When culture imposes itself on nature, when human priorities clash with the environment, the results can be catastrophic . . . or simply kitsch.
The nature of man is to pervert nature, through display and ornamentation, language, and neglect. The latter, of course, often causes great suffering and is a pervasive threat. Habitually, though, man shows that improving on nature is more than possible, if not preferable.
Here comes the bride
My grave’s cooler than your grave
Here lies Boss Tweed
What next, touchscreen tombstones? (“Press here for auto-eulogy")
Let’s have some people over for drinks (tell them to bring flowers)
Tranquility Gardens (exterior)
Tranquility Gardens (interior)
Rules is rules
The Catacombs (interior)
The Catacombs (exterior)
View of the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot on 5th Ave.
Hello from Green-Wood (Part 1)
Portentousness, setting, and fate converge, absorbing all mundane details: this pine cone beside this mausoleum at this intersection of Orchard Path and Hemlock Avenue will signal my way . . . It’s a landscape oddly lacking in humility—such rampant triumphalism even in death: the Greek goddess headstone pointing upward, the massive, bludgeon-like crosses and smug affirmations of faith’s promised rewards. The sound of whistling past the graveyard is almost deafening inside.
See that my grave is kept clean.
The Primrose Path leads to numbered lots and this morbid topiary—so beautiful (“life-affirming”?)—is a fragrant canopy over a field of bones and rotting flesh. The effort to create a “resting place” that transcends the temporal world while encompassing said world has produced something astounding. Maybe that’s the ultimate meaning of Green-Wood for we the living.
“Hello from Green-Wood (Part 2)”