della Pala (Dolomiti, Italy)
All the more
essential where it is uncontaminated, uncorrupted: wilderness, a residual
environment on which man does not extend its influence. A monument to creation,
fundamental to the very fact to exist (still). The comparison with dimensions
that do not belong to us, with situations we can't manage; huge natural
phenomena, breathtaking presences (mountains, Northern Lights, sunsets, oceans);
all what is immeasurable and uncontrollable backs to the correct proportions the
way we thinks at ourselves, returns us a proper perspective on our role (and as
things are going, let say that there is a huge need). The landscape becomes a
moment of inner knowledge, alternative point of view about ourselves. Its value
lies exactly in that sense of unknown and unknowable that wilderness brings with
it, the subtle anxiety of not being in full control. We need it to savour again
a healthy sense of disorientation, as just supporting actors in the world. To
photograph, to be in Nature, for me as for many, is an unaware research of this
dimension, actually an introspective journey.
The unknown, the
unexplored attract me, even if only intellectually. Not to reveal them, not for
“conquer” and dominate them through the knowledge; I'm not interested in
reassurances about my role as supposed master species. Rather, exactly the
opposite: I am gratified of a sense of belonging and harmony, the perception of
being a tiny wheel of the gear (whatever it is).
Nature, civilization: our world is full of dualisms, in some ways it is based on
them. Life is diversity, multilateralism. You need a side to define and know the
other: good and evil, fear and courage, success and failure. We need the
pleasure to understand the pain; the consequences, to understand the errors;
death, to appreciate life.
We need “different” to understand “normal”.
Similarly, an uncontrolled Nature is needed, to perceive who we are. The
confrontation with the wilderness draws the borders of our humanity; by
difference it defines what we are.
means "magic", what our ancestors felt toward the high mountains and
the phenomena they could not explain (in fact almost all of them, in ancient
times). A sense of wonder and reverence derived from them, and the need to “frame”
them through higher categories: gods, magical beings and forces. So here it was
the animism, polytheism and pantheism: for every natural event a specific deity
was assigned. The magic led to the veneration, and this one to the respect. I
believe we need to revalue the importance of what we do not know. The sense of
mystery is precious to us, and knowledge sometimes diminishes the sacredness of
what is revealed. And less respect means danger. Because yes, the human soul has
a genuine interest to the knowledge (that's the way our brain works,
irresistibly); however, often that transcends into something different, perhaps
because the unknown, the unmanageable, they frighten us. The longing for
knowledge becomes conquest then, pleased violation. Let to our hearts some
inviolate tops! Crosses on the tops, flags planted, men of stone, or simple
incisions on the tree bark. Small signs of self-affirmation, to exorcise fear:
"I was here, I've done this, I can rule". And if we can conquer it, if
we can't understand it, we destroy it; the unknown scares, the different is seen
as an anomaly, almost a disease which is granted has to be homologated or
eradicated. Understanding the importance of the wilderness and defend it,
essentially means to appreciate the different, what is "other". Let us
extend these considerations to the relationship between human cultures and
between individuals, and look, once again, what kind of huge heritage of
teaching Nature provide us.
Tell all this, next
time you'll be accuses to worry more about animals than men.
Áhkká in Stora Sjöfallet N.P. is a sacred mountain to Sami people (Swedish Lappland)