[permaculture] On Fireweed and Ecological Understanding

Johnathan Yelenick yelenick at riseup.net
Thu Oct 19 12:38:20 EDT 2006

Considering the Fireweed articles that were recently contributed, there 
was a quote in the article from 
written by Kenneth R. Weiss, Times Staff Writer:
> Where this pattern is most pronounced, scientists evoke a scenario of 
> evolution running in reverse, returning to the primeval seas of 
> hundreds of millions of years ago.

I question the veracity of this proposition. If ecological succession 
consists a fundamental dualism of both devastation and aggregation, how 
can we separate one from that other and say one is "good" while the 
other must be "bad". While this *subjective* assumption may pertain to 
the human organism, et al., it cannot be forced across the boards and 
applied as truth. The assumption sits in a myopic binary opposition mode 
of thinking, too narrow to categorize the flowing forth of Nature.

The antiquated mindset of classical Darwinian theory has wallowed too 
long in ecological applications, despite overwhelming evidence of its 
insufficiency, stemming foremost from the works of Norman Pace and Carl 
Woese (see /A New Biology for a New Century/, Carl Woese, Microbiology 
and Molecular Biology Reviews, June 2004). Classical Darwinian theory 
operates in a linear time perception that is essentially separated from 
itself. We see this operation signified in the above quote when the 
author says that Fireweed is growing an ecology that is "returning to 
the primeval seas of hundreds of millions of years ago". The author 
cannot comprehend how a time that is supposed to be fit in a box and 
filed away could creep back onto the scene. If indeed an organism that 
was supposed to be transgressed, in the great Liberal dogma of Progress, 
was not passed and this "primeval" organism is still existing, then 
maybe we should question the conceptual health of Progress and classical 
Darwinian theory.

This author does not feel, as signified through his words, Nature as a 
holistic process. He works within a paradigm that is hierarchically 
related, trying to anthropomorphize Nature to his subjective whim. 
Biology becomes for him a tool to change the world, not primarily a 
window from which to understand it.


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