Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Naming of Things

The technician is the modern missionary bringing every bird, every grass blade, wave pattern , and molecule into the fold of human knowledge and domination. As we continue to unfurl our presence on earth, must everything have a name and a use? 
Robert Perkins, Talking to Angels, 1996

Reading this reminded me of two conversations with Hannah. The first, some time ago, when we were walking in Bert's wood and Hannah pointed out a favourite tree. I couldn't identify it and said so.

She said,

You always need to name things. It doesn't matter to me.

I found that a strange thought for, it is true, I do like to name things, be it tree, flower, bird or butterfly.

More recently, since Hannah has moved out and lives looking on to a wild place full of birds and mice and foxes, we were talking about the birds she watches from her window. Bert has put up feeders and I offered a spare bird book. She declined it saying,

I love watching them. I don't need their names.

It's a different outlook on enjoying nature. Mine is different, I want names, information, domination. I love binomial nomenclature and regret that I have only sparse knowledge of Latin.

My girl told me that there were chaffinches out back of her place, and a robin and a bullfinch so she knows a lot more than she's letting on.

Hannah's wilderness

The book she refused. Too many ducks.

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