“Who Wrote the Book of Love?”

“It’s a corny old song, it asks a ridiculous question, and I had the sudden realisation that there is a very interesting answer.

It has taken about 4 billion years to come into its present form. The book of love I’m talking about is the book of life. It is written in DNA and RNA, but that’s the least of it. It is written in sunshine, rain, oceans, salt, forests, pollinators, seed dispersers, migrations, predations, fires, floods, feasts, famines, plate tectonics and slime moulds, to name just a few.

It took about four billion years, and if there’s any meaning to the term belonging in this context, it belongs to itself, to its great diverse, patterned, beautiful self. Let’s hold it in mind that this book wrote us humans, too. We are present in it, we’re part of it, and we have the most awesome capacity to love this book, and the most appalling capacity to trash it. …”

Recently I gave this presentation at a symposium. I spoke about the Tasmanian Wilderness, Aldo Leopold’s concept of goodness, and the human capacity both to love and to trash. Because I couldn’t be there, I sent a video. The topic of the symposium was ‘Ecological Australia: Ecocriticism in the Arts’. It was hosted by the Australian Centre at Melbourne University, and took place on 3-4 October, 2013. The video can be accessed here.



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