Here I go, my first collaboration with Random Greeny Ramblings, a wonderful website devoted to spread experiences, initiatives and news, that herald a new time when People and Nature can live together. My nick, Aogitsune, is a hint in more than one sense. First of all is a Japanese compound of the words ‘aoi’ and ‘kitsune’. ‘Aoi’ means ‘blue’, but actually here is used as ‘green’. The Japanese language lacked the existence of a word for ‘green’ and, in fact, only after the WWII ‘midori’ as ‘green’ came to be of common usage for the colour. Every colour today referred as ‘green’ was considered a shade of ‘aoi’, and what seems a remnant of an ancient rarity, is still present in numerous examples of everyday life in Japan. My selection of that suffix is not casual; apart from being linguistically coherent my intention is to vindicate the blurriness of the ‘green category’. I don’t want to suffocate the initiatives we are going to talk about here by labelling them as ‘green’. They pertain to the realm of life, to the symbiotic relationship with nature, and we don’t want to reduce them to a particular niche in the contemporary culture. We are not hippies, treehuggers or whatever moniker the mainstream media want us to bear, we are just people, and as people we reclaim a different way of doing things, a different way of relate with nature. ‘Aoi’ symbolises well how the gradation of ‘green’ is not particular relevant, because we aim to integrate respect and sustainability in every aspect of life.
On the other hand we have ‘kitsune’ or ‘fox’. This cute animal is a clear example of how nature pervades our lives and doesn’t care even a little bit about our preferences or aspirations. Nature is out there and we can vanquish it or trying to negotiate with it. The results of persistently trying to vanquish nature are painfully clear, let’s try something different. But foxes in Japan are legendary shapeshifters, folklore creatures that belong to the forest and that have contradictory relationships with the human world. They can be capricious or malicious, but generally the human ends up being tricked, deluded by their own dreams of beauty and/or prosperity. Our relationship with nature is quite similar, we contemplate it an infinite source of wealth, ready to be exploited, and in that delusion we end up with the sardonic grin of those who understand how this approach only brings greed, war, slavery, destruction and existential self-annihilation. We can do better and we know we can do better. The use of a mythological figure is not casual either. We don’t want to yield under the boot of the ideology of progress, we want to show that what people are today is not necessarily better that the people that inhabited the yesterday. We’ve got definitely good things, but there is no way we can consider ourselves better than those that, in the past (or in the present but culturally distant) could live respectfully with nature. There are hundreds of examples of societies (in the present and in the past) that demonstrate how people can relate respectfully and in a balanced manner with nature, and we are going to show them. The mythological nature of kitsunes does not only make them a wonderful banner to reclaim the past, it adds the mist of their inception to our creativity to confront contemporary challenges.
Finally, the Japanese theme is also not arbitrary. My background is greatly related to Japan so I am probably not impartial; nevertheless I have researched various Japanese phenomena linked to historical and contemporary sustainable ways of organising economy and society, and we think they can be wonderful cases to illustrate the type of change we want to promote. Certainly, today Japan is no different from other post-industrial nations in terms of pollution and exploitation of nature, but it has an enormous learning potential in its history and culture. Japan will not be isolated in the representation of cultural alternatives to the current relations with the natural world, but it will be our touchstone that will set the mood and that will be recurrent in this blog.
Well, I think that’s all. For a first post it has been a bit dense, I’m sorry. Next time it’ll be different. I hope we can provide you enough joy and inspiration in the future so, please, keep an eye on us.
Thank you and welcome.