Irish author Paddy Woodworth has an interesting review of David Haskell’s new book, The Forest Unseen, which focuses “on a single square metre of leaf litter in the hollow” in Tennessee, which he visited almost every day through a calendar year.
Here’s a clip:
“I think we live in a world marked by a deep paradox,” he says. “It is simultaneously riven with fathomless pain and filled with unspeakable beauty. This paradox partly emerges from our human perceptions and partly from the tension between co-operation and conflict that underlies all biology.
“Yes, the evolutionary process is competitive and is marked by no mercy for all who suffer. But in the crucible of intense competition some remarkable co-operative bonds have been welded. Every living organism exists only because of these bonds: unions that live inside every cell, alliances that allow many species to thrive in forest soil.
“Human observers and commentators can pick out any of these strands to paint a portrait of a nature that is relentlessly cruel or that is suffused with beneficence. A more complete view recognises that cruelty and beneficence are human terms for a world that is not confined by the categories of our intellectual and emotional responses.”