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.