Meadows – Vilém Flusser (1979)

Meadows by Vilém Flusser from Natural Mind 

An essay on nature and culture which describes how ‘culture’ relates to the agrarian, notions of ‘dominating’ the ‘field’ (comus 

  • “it is not so much about Heidegger, the glorifier of meadows, that I think of.” (such a weird line, as in writing/reading it, you can’t help but thinks of Heidegger…) 
  • Heidegger means “the cultivator of meadows in the forest” (?)

Metamorphoses – Roman poet Ovid – 8AD: “sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat,” — “spontaneously, without law, faith and what is right were cultivated.”

  • “maybe it would be better to say that for the Romans, meadow and field were “fields of action,” that is, battle fields. Battle against which enemy? Against the field itself.”

Mistake of treating ‘early’ man as analogous to current indigenous tribes (arrow of history, etc.) 

  •  We must, therefore, imagine the dialogues around the bonfires in the recently cultivated meadows more like research and advanced reflection meetings, and less like the contemporary “potlatch” of indians in the Aleutian Islands. 

“fidem colebat” — cultivated faith

  • “the experience of the meadow… is one of the most intense experiences of nature that we can have, and to lie down on a sun-drenched meadow is to commune with nature”
  • Even though the meadow is made by man, man is at its highest communion with the natural when he’s in the meadow, because this is a true relation with nature
  • The meadow is in some sense synthetic, but it does not alienate us: “The meadow is as it should be (in fact: intensified nature) for being the articulation of fidelity to nature. As our ancestors transformed the forest into meadow, they provoked and accentuated the natural essence in it. They continued to be faithful to it.”
  • For our ancestors: 
    • “They did not feel the contradiction between culture and nature.
    • They did not “fidem rectumque colebant,” that is, 
    • they did not synthesize faith with technology, and 
      • synthesising faith with technology in our contemporary world is what produces an ‘uptight’ / ‘un-just’ relation to technologies as we both chastise ourselves for still believe in these new gods, while constantly repopulating our lives with them
    • as they produced culture, they did not reveal the essence of nature.”
    • “culture was what is natural to men, and therefore, appropriate to the whole of nature.”
  • “The meadow, as culture (and not in spite of being culture), is essentially nature, because it was produced under the criterion of “fides;” under the criterion of an integrated religiosity”


    • Technology, culture (and not in spite of being culture), is essentially nature if it could be produced under the criterion of ‘fides’, under the criterion of an integrated religiosity.


  • Somehow this description of the natural, as that which is originally not other than us, but part of a ‘fides’ or faithful relation to the world allowing for a ‘just’ or ‘right’ relation to the world — is also what has happened to us technologically… (2nd nature, etc.) 
  • Technologies have become 2nd natures, and therefore we find ourselves twice alienated — once through the cultural-natural cleaving, and again through a kind of religious-romantic ‘disappointment’ or ‘ove-expectation’ of technological 

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