‘THE CULTURE OF NATURE’
I’m not about to condemn this variegation. The apparent raggedness of the book does not betray any woolliness of thinking. On close inspection and deployment, the book is not ragged. It is vigorous. It has an ecological scrappiness deriving from Wilson’s years of wandering, reading, thinking, comparing and writing across the vastly scrappy and changeable North American continent. And like a robust and busy ecology, the book manages to work and thrive because of its hybrid, interdisciplinary vigour. As it investigates, it replicates environmental shapes; the maintenance of a classical, ‘architectural’ rectitude is not part of the project. A smoother, more ‘resolved’ book on the North American landscape would not help with the messy task Wilson sets himself and his readers: to refigure the operations of power, efficiency, profit, satisfaction, hunger and resolution that people take to and from the country. It’s a programme entailing aesthetics, biology, politics, history and a whole lot more. Therefore the book is vigorous and prolific, not sleek.