It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
“Our Real Work” by Wendell Berry (1983)
“This, then, is the central paradox: wilderness embodies a dualistic vision in which the human is entirely
outside the natural. If we allow ourselves to believe that nature, to be true, must also be wild, then our very presence in nature represents its fall. The place where we are is the place where nature is not. If this is so—if by definition wilderness leaves no place for human beings, save perhaps as contemplative sojourners enjoying their leisurely reverie in God's natural cathedral—then also by definition it can offer no solution to the environmental and other problems that confront us. To the extent that we celebrate wilderness as the measure
with which we judge civilization, we reproduce the dualism that sets humanity and nature at opposite poles. We thereby leave ourselves little hope of discovering what an ethical, sustainable, honorable human place in nature might actually look like.”
“Calling a place home inevitably means that we will use the nature we find in it, for there can be no escape
from manipulating and working and even killing some parts of nature to make our home. But if we
acknowledge the autonomy and otherness of the things and creatures around us--an autonomy our culture has
taught us to label with the word 'wild'—then we will at least think carefully about the uses to which we put
them, and even ask if we should use them at all.”
“If wildness can stop being (just) out there and start being (also) in here, if it can start being as humane as it is
natural, then perhaps we can get on with the unending task of struggling to live rightly in the world—not just
in the garden, not just in the wilderness, but in the home that encompasses them both.”
From: “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature” by William Cronon.
Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, William Cronon, editor. 1995
Rather than prescribing solutions, like buildings, master plans, or algorithms, medium design works with protocols of interplay—not things, but parameters for how things interact with each other.