Every human being here is asked two questions of creed: first as to the credibility of this life, second as to the credibility of his goal. Both questions are answered by everyone, through the very fact of his life, with such a firm and direct ‘yes’ that it might become uncertain whether the questions have been understood rightly. In any case, it is now that one must begin to work one’s way through to this, one’s own basic Yes, for even far below their surface the answers are confused and elusive under the assault of the questions.
– Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks (tr. Kaiser and Wilkins)
We constantly refer back to the natural world to try and discover who we are. Nature is the most potent source of metaphors to describe and explain our behaviour and feelings. It is the root and branch of much of our language. We sing like birds, blossom like flowers, stand like oaks. Or then again we eat like gluttons, breed like rabbits and generally behave like animals. But then ‘animal’ itself springs from the ancient Sanskrit root anila, meaning ‘wind’, via the Latin animalis, ‘anything alive’, splitting off animus on the way as, first, ‘mind’ and then ‘mental impulse, disposition, passion’ – a reminder of the time that mind and nature were not thought of as contrary entities. It is as if in using the facility of language, the thing we believe most separates us from nature, we are constantly pulled back to its, and our, origins. In that sense all natural metaphors are miniature creation myths, allusions to how things came to be, and a confirmation of the unity of life.
– Richard Mabey, Nature Cure
Being-there—more originary and earlier than human being as usually conceived—is the site of the play of being and the origin of its essential happening. Man, as the entry into this play, is that entity who has at each moment decided for or against being-there, knowingly or not, and who builds his history on the basis of this decision.
— Heidegger, ‘Die Frage nach dem Sein’ (tr. Polt)
My book, The Moment, published by Splice, can be ordered here.