First, the backstory of how we bagged an interview with the super-busy, hot-selling Pollan, now swept up in
publicity for his latest, In Defense of Food, published fast on the heels of Omnivore’s Dilemma. Getting through to this guy was going to be hard. But a friend casually mentioned that she’s on email terms with him and I begged her to deliver a message to him from us, and bam! came his answer, forwarded by the go-between.
Think he’d have answered 20 Questions? Unlikely, so I asked just one: Does he stand by the incendiary Against Nativism that he wrote back in 1994 for the New York Times Magazine? See, that article wasn’t about the anti-immigrant fervor now rampant in the U.S. but was a rant against the ideology of native plants. So, has he changed his mind in the intervening 14 years? Many of his admirers, if they’ve read the article, assume that he has.
He hasn’t. Our "exclusive interview" yielded this answer from the Pollanator: "tell ehr its still my thinking, and it apparently has more scientific support.
but I can’t cite any…." You can tell he’s a very busy man. I’m only somewhat busy and I don’t correct typos in emails, either.
SOME QUOTES FROM "AGAINST NATIVISM"
- The natural gardening movement is "antihumanist".
- Gardens are places that "mediate between nature and culture, rather than force us to make an impossible choice."
- "Turning back the ecological clock to 1492 is a fool’s errand, futile and pointless to boot."
- "It seems to me we gardeners would do better to try to work with the mongrel ecology we’ve inherited – to start out from there."
- And "Here’s to multihorticulturalism!"
Readers here won’t be surprised to learn that Pollan’s perspective resonates with me – and I think it’s perfectly consistent with efforts to provide more habitat in people’s gardens. (And my town will SOON become the first certified habitat community in Maryland!) I do take issue when he uses the dreaded Nazi comparison, which I think everyone’s pretty tired of by now and doesn’t it usually piss people off to no good purpose, anyway? That may have been provoked by the nag who nearly bit off his head for the offense of planting flowers in a straight line. (I also agree with commenters here who suggest that attacking us eco-friendly gardeners for not being native plant purists actually hurts the cause.)Posted by Susan Harris on March 1, 2008 at 2:13 pm, in the category Ministry of Controversy.