East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A book about trees

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No good deed goes unpunished, even if it’s s good deed done for a lark: back when my friends Hell and Silvia came to visit last month, a common friend’s birthday was coming up, so we did a collection to buy her a present. I advanced the momentous figure of three euro to cover for my friend Lucy’s share – just for a lark, because she’s a great person but she tends to obsess a little over such details, and I wanted her to relax a bit. She retaliated by sending me a book from my Amazon wishlist.

Writer Jacques Brosse (Photo by GODONG/Corbis via Getty Images)

So I am now the proud owner of a nice little booklet, originally published in the mid ‘80s, in France, and called Mythologie des arbres, that’s to say Mythology of the Trees. The subtitle is From the Garden of Eden to the wood of the Cross, and the author is the late Jacques Brosse, psychoanalyst, author, journalist and zen monk, an expert in environmental culture and compared religions. Of his I already had here somewhere Zen et Occident.
The volume is one of those brutalist BUR Italian paperbacks, printed on recycled paper from age-old typesets – the sort of book that’s a student’s delight because it’s cheap and can survive anything, and carry its scars with a certain pride. Interestingly enough, Brosse’s book was on my wishlist because my friend Alex Girola, the writer, had discussed it on his blog. So, as you see, is a curious network of friendships and shared interests, and personal connections maintained through analog and digital means.
And I like it a lot, because it short-circuits the myth that the web is making us poorer in terms of human relationships and interactions. It can be, but it is not a given – after all we are humans, and we can build human relations through a variety of tools.

And now I have a really interesting book, that explores our relationship with the natural world and trees in particular through mythology and organized religion. Which sounds heavy as hell, but is in fact rather breezy, because as I said Brosse had a light touch.
The sort of book that is full of inspirations and ideas for stories and stuff that we did not know, and that will make us even more fascinating dinner conversationalists than we already are. Beautiful.

Useless to say that I responded to Lucy’s gift by sending her a bunch of ebooks through Humble Bundle. This story is not over yet.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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