by Amanda Apicella
I found Coates’ discussion of the controversy regarding “raw” nature and the gardens that altered and proportioned nature for aesthetics quite interesting. Although the “nature” and green is there, it is altered to be mathematically proportioned according to artistic/aesthetic preferences. But the question is, is it still “nature”? Is it “wrong”? There was much controversy in regards to this issue and much of it surrounds the dichotomy between Nature and Art. When Jean-Jacques Rousseau described a particular garden as “… you see nothing here in an exact row, nothing level, Nature plants nothing by the ruler.” he hadn’t known the garden was actually thoroughly contrived and planned, despite appearing less kempt and orderly. Is Nature only Nature or “right” when it is not put there by human hands or when it only appears to have not been put there by human hands?
Coates almost appears to dance around the various approaches and historic attempts to draw the line as to what counts as nature and what doesn’t (or what is the “right” form of nature) as it shifts constantly as the society itself changes over time. There are so many different ideologies and regarding this that this book highlights in order to blur the line and pretty much show how varied the word Nature is in terms of what it describes (as the way nature is viewed/defined and/or treated seems to reflect the changes within a society). It honestly makes me wonder if there is even a “true” definition of nature and it is odd considering it is used in some laws to describe areas yet is extremely vague in reality.