December 2010


… in different historical circumstances the idea of nature was once a subversive concept with a genuinely revolutionary function …

– Fredric Jameson, “Reflections in Conclusion.” In Ernst Bloch et al. Aesthetics and Politics. Ed. Ronald Taylor. London: Verso, 1986, p. 207.

As few scholars of European and American intellectual history … fully realize, one major ramification of recognizing nature’s presence within modernity is that it provides an intellectual framework for the decisive incorporation of the non-West, including Japan, within this global experience. Indeed, the restitution of nature to our historical understanding of modernity tears down one of the most resilient East-West divides. Universal histories (pace Hegel) have relied on the tension between nature and culture, read “East” and “West”, to propel the promise of humanity’s self-realization as the world moves from nature to culture, from emotion to reason, from necessity to freedom, from traiditon to modernity…. If nature is no longer positioned as something to conquer, overcome, or leave behind in order to attain modernity, this series of oppositions falters and Japan — indeed all the world — escapes from its designated place within modernity’s narrative.

– Julia Adeney Thomas. Reconfiguring Modernity. p. 27. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001.