Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Words we use

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Our words are telling. They speak of what we've observed, experienced, and internalized. In his forthcoming book, "Landmarks," author Robert Macfarlane poetically points out how some words that stem from experiencing the outdoors are fading away, in favor of a more digital experience.

Wildflowers found at Acrosanti, Arizona. Photo by: Carren Jao
He writes:
Children are now (and valuably) adept ecologists of the technoscape, with numerous terms for file types but few for different trees and creatures. A basic literacy of landscape is falling away up and down the ages. And what is lost along with this literacy is something precious: a kind of word magic, the power that certain terms possess to enchant our relations with nature and place.  
It is a sobering thought. As a soon-to-be parent, I wonder if my children will be able to appreciate the physical, as they would the digital. I know they would at home in the midst of 1s and 0s, but will the visceral be as appealing? Can I find ways for them to fall in love with the natural?

I'm predicting a lot of visits to the wonderful Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, whose expansion I covered a while back. But what else can I do? Any tips?

You can read the rest of Macfarlane's essay here.


Get updates via RSS