The term Biophilia was popularized by the greatest naturalist of our time, E.O.Wilson. I’ve got a giant nerd-crush on him, though it’s not quite as giant as my first nerd crush: Sir David Attenborough. While my acquaintance to Attenborough’s work solidified my young love and interest in nature, E.O.Wilson gave it name, a reason, and a sort of legitimacy.
In E.O.Wilson’s words, Biophilia describes “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” According to this hypothesis, we are just evolved to have an affinity for nature: the plants and animals and other things that make up life on earth.
It’s one explanation why our ancestors drew animals on cave walls, apartment dwellers have houseplants, people all over the world keep pets, and why people design post-it notes to look like leaves.
No joke. You can get them here.
Biophilia rules my world. When I was little I desperately wanted to live in the woods and I would bring home any critter I could get my hands on. I learned about nature and life nursing orphaned and injured animals back to health. And it probably had a lot to do with my career choice as an animal advocate.
But you may be able to tell from the inspiration posts on this blog so far, my biophilia is also peppered with a sense of macabre. Is it still biophilia if you appreciate the aesthetics of a skeleton or a thing-in-a-jar? Is biophilia limited to only those things that are living and vital? And from a personal perspective, is it at worst ethically dodgy and at best just weird for an animal advocate to have pictures of dead creatures on her blog and skeletons in her house?
Like most things, I found the answers for those personal perspective questions in my childhood. I’ve loved animals as long as I can remember, infact I pined for them. But what child gets to meet a live raccoon? Or pet a wild deer? Not many. But I found myself displacing my love for this things on what was accessible and tangible: the bones of a raccoon my grandfather helped me locate in the woods, the deer pelt my father tanned himself. It wasn’t a love for the death of the animals, but a complete affinity for the animal right down to tooth and bone and tendon.
So cheers to biophilia in all it’s forms! In art, design, science, philosophy, and home.