written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Friday, September 16, 2005

“Woodland-Mosaic Hypothesis”

I’ve come across something I need to note for a little further investigation. Taken from a article in Outside (9/05) “A Peaceful Angle” about war photographers on a fishing holiday in Mongolia:

“The view encompassed every combination of wild beauty, with steep, snow-dusted mountains in one place and bright sun falling on yellow larch in another. Some scholars believe that our love of spectacular landscapes may be less the product of sentiment than of natural selection. As early as 1.5 million years ago, they argue, our ancestors were genetically imprinted to favor views like this: a valley with hunting grounds; grass to attract animals; a river with clean water; trees for ambush and escape. According to this ‘woodland-mosaic hypothesis,’ we are drawn to the patchwork of nature. Just as trout stalk the seam between two currents, we reach for the borders between states of being.”

I am typically skeptical of claims that certain emotional human features are “genetically imprinted,” because of the preposterous image that the phrase conjures up of LOVE being somewhere located in the back and tucked deep inside the grey matter and INDIFFERENCE above the ears and on the surface, or HATE imprinted around the optical nerve. However, if I am inclined to believe anything about natural selection, which I am, then I should also expect that our emotional affinities and sentimentalities for healthy, abundant, and fertile (thus “beautiful”) environments is entirely rooted in an instinctual need for such places to exist out of sheer survival. So perhaps, this love of scenery or even what is often called a spiritual connection to the land is a social translation for the cognitive firings that are going off in the brain when we stand looking across them.

“Woodland-Mosaic Hypothesis”…worth remembering

My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson