When John Berger suggests, “It is within this bleak natural context that beauty is encountered, and the encounter is by its nature sudden and unpredictable” (Berger 92) he establishes that even though there are rare moments of beauty found in nature, none of them are permanent. He goes further to explain that these moments of beauty are examples of art: “Art is an organized response to what nature allows us to glimpse occasionally” (Berger 94). This suggests that nature is only beautiful when these infrequent flashes are captured in art. For example, the idea of the white bird that Berger discusses in his essay is taken from nature and is molded into a delicate, precious handmade piece.
When the real bird is mentioned in his essay he says, “Outside, in minus 25°C, the real birds are freezing to death” (Berger 94). His outlook on nature is portrayed as beastly. Only the idea of the white bird sculpture is beautiful to him. Though the suffering bird isn’t the most appealing thought; it is nature, it is real. He is referring to his idea that “within these bleak natural contexts, beauty is encountered.” of beauty, how can these people continue to be so dedicated with preserving nature?
It is advocated that nature is consistently beautiful alone. These organizations and groups are devoted to preserving and allowing nature to be beautiful permanently. Like Berger says art is the permanence of nature’s beauty, the goal of these people is to transform the art, or the instant of beauty into an endless aesthetic. A picturesque moment in the eyes of Berger is instants that provoke aesthetic emotion. These brief seconds in time portray hopefulness within nature.
He says that by organizing these hopeful and beautiful moments in time, art is therefore formed. Art by definition is “any of various pursuits or occupations in which creative or imaginative skill is applied according to aesthetic principles” (OED). These moments are found so sparingly because nature is and will always be uncertain.
Even in today’s world with all the technology, we are still not prepared for the wrath of nature, let alone to fathom how harsh or when these unstable moments will arise. The idea Berger offers that nature solely has brief periods of beauty supports my question of why people try so hard to preserve nature itself. Today people are involved with environmental programs such as Greenpeace and recycling, all with the same goal of trying to preserve and save the future of our planet. If Berger’s point of view is that nature only has a certain extent of beauty, how can these people continue to preserve nature? We see beauty all around us. It starts right here at home.
Being a student at NYU it’s customary to walk through Washington Square Park each day. While in the park we see many forms of art. The question arises that why in an urban city do we have parks? We have an assortment of parks, from central park to Union Square Park and many more through out the city. Well the logic behind having these parks is that they portray beauty in the most desolate areas. After a long day of being locked up in classes, the only thing that acts as an outlet from classes and school is sitting in Washington Square Park. The park not only acts as an escape, but it allows one to find peace within the stressful and chaotic city.
When I am in the park I can clear my mind as well as be one with nature. Nature is beautiful. Nature or these parks will always be beautiful even in the winter. How many times have you seen pictures of Washington Square Park with snow covered benches, and the frozen fountain, and it still be the most breath-taking scene? The community and these organizations thrive on upholding, and protecting parks such as these. It is because of people like this, people who care, people who see beauty where it may not be all the time is why nature and these parks are aesthetic. Ann Zwinger, the author of “A Desert World” allegorizes the representation that nature holds.
Her core ideas of endurance, empathy, and anguish that each grain of sand holds exemplify her reason for constructing this essay. Nature gives us a certain consideration for how the world cultivates itself and how it has fashioned our daily lives. Zwigger views the most desolate environment as beautiful and hopeful. Similarly, Berger’s essay implies that nature’s beauty comes and goes whereas Zwinger makes it clear that nature always demonstrates beauty and stories.
She furthers her thinking by clarifying, “I tally the physiological adjustments of blood and urine, hearing and seeing, of adaptations in behavior that make life in the desert not only possible with verve, qualities seen and unseen that spell out not only survival, but survival with zest” (Zwigger 416).
These things that survive in nature are not hardly getting by, but yet they flourish because of innovation forced upon them when evolution occurs. It is important to remember how the world came to be signifying the optimism of aesthetics, and yet there is still an immense area for development. The sight of a visually appealing landscape is irreplaceable, but also a memorandum of where we come from. If we take a step back and try and interpret what Zwinger is trying to say, she is saying beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. To me what may be beautiful is the opposite of what Zwinger thinks.
She views the cave and the desert to be the most beautiful thing. However, to me I find the sparkling waters in the Caribbean simply spectacular. As she finds the ability of animals to survive and evolve in the desert to be beautiful and intriguing, comparably, I find these sea creatures to be the same. The amount of ocean life that is flourishing that we don’t even know about is not only unfathomable but is beautiful. Even the unknown of nature is beautiful. Damien Hirst perfectly depicts art that is nature frozen in time similarly to the concept that John Berger discusses in his essay.
Hirst’s series “The White Cube,” are these simple, transparent glass boxes with motionless animals inside them. These animals are not just examples, but they are nature’s beauty captured by art. This explicitly illustrates my thoughts on the biggest contrasts between how Berger views nature and my own views. I feel that by capturing these moments they become stuck or full of tension. Moreover, Hirsts artwork can are arguably not be beautiful in that life cannot be seen in these still pieces of art. On the other hand, to further my thinking, Zwinger may view his work to imprison nature.
These freely roaming creatures are now fixed. The question posed in this essay was why do we preserve nature? I believe that nature is kept preserved because if we do not uphold nature, we will not be alive. There are many things in this world that we take for granted, nature being one of them. Even Berger describes nature as being “energy and struggle” he goes further to articulates, “Nature has no promises.” Berger fully understands the delicacy of nature but he fails to recognize its overall beauty. Furthermore I think that from nature’s beauty humans can learn about themselves.
An example of this can be hunting. Humans hunt for animals, however hunting teaches you a lot more then just how to shoot a gun. Hunting teaches you how to be patient. It teaches you to respect and to be thankful. Hunting is a form of nature. It is a way of life that happens within nature everyday. If we keep these positive attributes of nature in mind we will want to preserve the wilderness. The more we look into why we keep nature around the more we can learn about ourselves.
Berger, John. “The White Bird.” The Sense of Sight. NY: Vintage, 1993. 5-11.
Zwinger, Ann. “A Desert World.” Trans. Array Occasions for Writing- Evidence, Idea, Essay. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2008. 415-416. Print.