A month later, I went to New York City for a memorial service for my editor at Harper Collins, Robert Jones, an extraordinary person, an old soul if you believe in that sort of thing, highly evolved and deeply compassionate, who had truly devoted himself to his writers, to nurturing their talent and bringing out the very best in them. He was the editor every writer dreams for. Robert had touched many people in the New York publishing and literary community, and the turnout at the University Club was perhaps a thousand strong. Devastated author after author of Robert’s recalled his incredibly supportive marginal notes: “Exquisite !” “I’m blown away !” “How did you ever come up with such a beautiful sentence? ” One of his colleagues quoted the columnist Cindy Adams, who wrote at the death of Liberace, “How do you type a tear? ”
Robert was the third important person in my life who had died since March. Two of them were only in their forties—Robert was 49– and I was still grieving for my father, whom I’d lost the year before. Death was abroad, closer to me than it had ever been to me. (Except for my own brush with it in Peru in l977, when I very nearly died of blackwater fever.) I could hear the lacerating Ray Charles voice of the blind Reverend Gary Davis, my guitar teacher and guru in the sixties, singing his haunting song, “Death don’t have no mercy in this land,” as if he were still here and had not died twenty years ago. LINK TO ETHNOMUSICOLOGY
It had been many months since I’d been to New York City. I am “not a pavement person,” as Georgia O’Keefe described herself, and I have always had a love-hate relationship with the place. I had just ended, in July, a very well-paid but singularly unproductive six-year relationship with Vanity Fair, and I was down on everything it stood for and glorified, its celebration of hyperconsumption and the decadent lifestyles of the superrich. There was no place for me there any more, for the kind of the writing I do. Long foreign stories had zero appeal to the current zeitgeist. So I wrote the editor, Graydon Carter, two perhaps too caustic e-mails outlining the issues I had with what he was doing to the magazine, and he didn’t want to deal with it and basically told me to seek employment elsewhere. My wife thought I had taken leave of my senses for thus kissing off two thirds of my income and an enviable and prestigious position at the pinnacle of journalism in terms of pay and prestige, and maybe I had. But it was worth it. I was no longer a servant of the media. No longer did I cringe every time I passed a real-estate sign in Montreal that said VENDU !My disillusionment with my own culture had actually been growing since the previous fall, since Dubya stole the election. After that mockery of the democratic process, I just started letting my hair grow. It now cascaded to my shoulders, longer than it had even been in the sixties. I told people that I was in my second hippiehood. The electoral process had been hijacked, the Supreme Court was bought—what was there to respect about this culture whose selfish hyperconsumption was destroying the world?
This was more or less where I was “at” when I came to New York to pay hommage to Robert on September 10. My old childhood friend, the Buddhist, who lives on the Upper East side and had gotten me together with the Shamarpa, put me up, and the following morning we drove out to La Guardia to pick up the Shamarpa, who had flown up from Washington. We were planning to have our second discussion about the Karmapa controversy, then I was going to catch the 11:45 train to Albany. Having rained torrentially the night before, releasing a weeks-long buildup of humidity. September 11th dawned cool and clear as a bell. The taste of fall was in the air. I marveled at all the gorgeous chique women on the sidewalks of the Upper East Side, walking adorable little dogs or headed for work, chatting on cellphones. Ideologically I was down on the city, but this stance was quickly eroding, a woefully inadequate response to what New York City is. I have always had this ambivalence about New York. I get totally into it and love it when I am there, but I can only take a few days of it at a time.
After collecting the Shamarpa, we headed back into the city. Getting up on the elevated Grand Central Parkway we could see the whole skyline of Manhattan across the East River, a glorious panoramic view of almost the whole island from tip to tip, whose most prominent features were the twin glass towers of the World Trade Center. But what was this? A huge black plume of smoke pouring out of one of the World Trade Center towers, about two thirds of the way up. It was instantly apparent to all of us that this was not an ordinary fire. Something horrible had happened, obviously another terrorist attack on the preeminent symbol of American capitalism and global economic supremacy. But this was a very big hit, clearly a mortal blow to the tower, and to the people in it who had already come to their offices. Many people must be dead. I could hardly imagine the panic and the horror that must be going on inside what was left of the tower.
I looked at my watch. It was 8:51. We turned on the radio but there was no news yet about what had happened. This was the first hit—by the first Boeing 767 from Boston, American Airlines Flight 11. It had happened at 8:45, only six minutes ago. Only one station broadcast an unconfirmed rumor that a twin engine plane had crashed into the tower. But by 9:00 every station was on the story. But no one knew what was happening.“It’s the Taliban. I’m absolutely sure, ” the Shamarpa said. Or Osama Bin Ladin, who was harbored by the Taliban. Bin Ladin was obsessed with these towers and with destroying Americans and everything American. We went over the Triboro Bridge. A policeman waved everybody off the FDR drive and we descended into Harlem and could no longer see the towers, but at the end of the eastern avenues, there was a huge mushroom cloud of smoke. By now the second tower had been hit, by the second Boeing from Boston, United Airlines 175.
The three of us realized with a gutwrenching feeling that a major attack, a major act of aggression on the United States on the order of Pearl Harbor, a watershed historical event, was underway. As President Bush (Dubya no longer seems appropriate, considering what he now has to deal with) put it nine days later, in his address to Congress and the nation, “Great harm has been done to us, and we have suffered great loss.” A sentence with an almost biblical cadence, that almost seemed to have a veiled threat to it: and now you shall taste the wrath of Jehovah. I recognized from the phrase “patient justice” that the speechwriter must be the same one who came up with “compassionate conservatism” during Dubya’s campaign.
We got to my old friend’s apartment and turned on CNN and watched the twin towers collapse, one after the other, into the greatest heap of rubble in human history. 55,000 people worked in them. How many had already come to work, how many had gotten out, how many had been trapped and incinerated or blown up or crushed. It would be a long time before that was known. The whole of lower Manhattan was engulfed in smoke, but the statue of Liberty was still standing in the clear September air on its little island at the mouth of the Hudson. The symbol of everything that is good about America was intact. This had been a devastating “surgical hit,” as the military experts contracted by the networks described the little puffs of smoke far below that appeared on our screens during the Gulf War nine years ago, when we were bombing Baghdad, causing the staggering collateral damage to Iraqui civilians. It was this violation and desecration of the Muslim Holy Land, this loss of many of the faithful, that created Bin Laden.
I decided against going down to Penn Station and trying to make the 11:45 train to Albany. It was not a good idea to go anywhere until it was clear what was happening, until the attack was over. But I didn’t want to stay in the city any longer than I had to, so I called Amtrak and reserved a seat for the 1:45. The booking agent assured me that the schedule was not going to be disrupted. At noon I started walked south down Lexington. I walked thirty blocks. The city was like a B disaster movie. The mushroom cloud was still billowing at the end the long, narrow, skycraper-lined canyon of Lexington Avenue. There was very little traffic. The streets were full of dazed people, commuters with loosened ties and attaché cases, New Yorkers whose elegance and vibrance I had admired a few hours ago. The sky was blotted out by smoke. Above it jet fighters—our Air Force– were crisscrossing the airspace frantically. Each time one screamed past overhead everyone in the street would stop and look up anxiously, shielding their eyes with their hands. This must have been what London was like during the blitz.I caught a cab which took me to 42nd Street, where roadblocks had been set up, and walked the rest of the way down to Penn Station. The doors were closed, and thousands of people were waiting outside for them to open. Most of them were commuters waiting for trains to Long Island or New Jersey, dying like me to get out of the gravely wounded city, the war zone, the target zone, and back home to their families. No one was saying a word. Thousands of people, regular, decent Americans, just waiting to get home. No one was complaining. How could anybody complain about having to wait for a train, about anything, after what had happened to the people who worked in the towers? There was something very moving about the way they were all just standing there. I had been down on the whole new parochial, anti-intellectual, anti-environmental, dumbed-down, born-again cast of the American zeitgeist, epitomized by “Dubya.” I had been feeling more radical, more revolted by the mainstream society, now than I ever did in the sixties. But the humility of the people waiting for the doors of Penn Station, the patience and politeness and consideration that they all realized was the correct response to the situation, renewed my faith in the fundamental decency of the American people, and in that special quality that exists only in New York City: “heart.”
I had just put together some reminiscences about the city for TheSpook.Com’s September issue.
Its people and institutions, its energy has been incredibly important for me professionally and personally, even though the only time only time I have ever lived there was for a few months in l970. I was trying to make it as a singer-songwriter and had sublet an apartment on Second and 2nd from a coke dealer that was around the corner from the Hell’s Angels. Eights years later I was commuting from Westchester to my office at the New Yorker and having lunch at the Century and playing squash at the Harvard Club. This was a completely different New York. There are many different New Yorks, and I’ve been exposed to maybe half a dozen of them over the years. After my 1978 Amazon book, I wanted to write a big book on New York, to follow the ultimate natural jungle with the ultimate human jungle (which is in my view as “natural,” in its own way, as the Amazon), but was waylaid by financial considerations, as has often been the case with my more ambitious undertakings. Plus Mr. Shawn, the New Yorker’s legendary editor, of whom I and everyone else at the magazine were in awe, had tactfully shot me down with the question, “Don’t you think that taking on all of New York City might be too big? ”
The one thing that cuts across all the different New Yorks is this quality of “heart.” I first came into contact with it in l967 when I landed a summer job between my junior and senior years of college as a cub reporter for the New York Daily News. My job was to write captions for the Sunday Coloroto Magazine about the weekly bathing belle (“Svelte, statuesque Barbara Contino graces the springboard of the Astoria pool,” etc.) and another column called “Mainly For Seniors” (“ Despite her years—all l04 of them—Mrs. Sophie Slobodein of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, is an active cuisiniere”). The most interesting one was called New York’s Changing Scene. My editor, a wizened New York Irish veteran of the City Desk who periodically fortified himself with nips from a flask he kept in his vest pocket, would hand me a snapshot of a streetcorner in one of the boroughs taken in 20s or 30s, and another one taken from the same spot that was only a few days old. Often there was no discernible overlap. The scene had totally changed. I would scrutinize the old photo with a magnifying class, pick out things, and do research on what it was like back then. This was excellent training for the Dispatches, now that I look back on it. How many times in my world travels have I returned to some beautiful place I had passed through a few years early and found it completely obliterated.Among my souvenirs from my twentieth summer at the Daily News is a photograph of a very fat monk in his robes who is swinging at a softball that was taken by one of the paper’s photographers—I don’t know his name. It won a big prize that year and I’ve taken it with me where I’ve lived. It still makes me feel good every time I look at it, and everyone else who visits the bathroom where it hangs. I can’t think of more classic Cartier- Bressons decisive-moment picture. It captures the monk just as he is taking a huge cut at the ball, swinging for Heaven, and missed it. It also captures what I love about New York, the heart that I am talking about.
I stood for half an hour with the people at the doors of Penn Station, who were all undoubtedly struggling privately to come to terms with what had happened. How could anybody hate us so much? I suspect many of them were thinking. What does this mean? Is the world coming apart at the seams, the entire human experiment, the tenuous global social contract that is still being negotiated because it is in no one’s interest that the species annihilates itself and takes everything with it? The growing frequency of outbreaks of massive psychotic violence—the Rwandan genocide, Tulsa, and now this —is certainly ominous.
How did you classify such an attack? It was clearly an act of terrorism, but was it also an act of war, as the president called it later in the day. Bin Laden had declared a jihad against America, so it was. He had come right out and said that he was out to kill Americans. So the deaths in the towers and the planes and at the Pentagon were more than “collateral damage.” Wasn’t this also an act of genocide? Killing people, even just one person, because they belong to a group, with the intent of exterminating the entire group or weakening it beyond the capacity to recover is how genocide is defined by the Geneva Convention. Usually the group is racial or ethnic or religious. “Americans” are a national group that embraces hundreds of ethnic, racial, and religious groups, but in Bin Laden’s eyes we are all infidels– a corrupt, decadent tribe who he feels it is his religious duty to wipe off the face of the earth. So yes, this can be seen as an act of genocide. And what about the killing of ten or fifteen Palestinan civilians a day in Israel since the declaration of the second intifada a year ago? Is this some important day in the Muslim calendar? I asked the woman standing next to me. It’s the anniversary of the Camp David Accord, she told me in a low voice. So maybe the terrorists are Palestinia: suicide bombers taking out a really attention-getting target. Or Bin-Laden’s folks who had chosen this day for their attack as a gesture of sympathy.Could this also be seen an act of revolution? America has become the hated upper class of the world, in the eyes of many people, not just fanatical Islamists. This is how we are seen by a lot of people in Africa, Latin American, Europe, Canada, the Middle East, Asia. I am constantly having to defend America in my travels. Here we are, 4% of the world’s population who cornered 66% of its resources, if Jeremy Rifkin is to be believed. We have all the goodies, and this obviously isn’t right and a reasonable motive for revolution. As J.Paul Getty said, there will always be someone in the penthouse. The class struggle will always exist. But now it has transcended national borders.
So perhaps this attack can be compared—along with the more obvious comparisons– to the bombing of Tsar Alexander II in on March 13, l881 by a 25-year-old Polish students named Ignacy Grinevitsky, who was Jewish, which prompted a wave of pogroms against the Jews. After that act, which struck at the very heart of Russia, it was clear to everyone that the days of the tsar and the aristocracy were numbered, although the revolution that brought them down didn’t happen for another 36 years. Maybe that was the message that Bin Laden was sending. The party is over, America. And he was just the messenger. If it hadn’t been him, it would have been somebody else. Not that what he did can be countenanced, not to diminish the diabolical insanity of what he did, cutting short 6800 innocent lives and counting. That’s how it always is in these liquidations, I thought as I stood there with the others: a lot of good people get killed because of some “ism.” A lot of useful, innocent people are lost.
It was also now stunningly clear to me that mainstream American culture is just as vulnerable as the species and cultures that it is destroying. I realized that I was going to have to expand the mission of the Dispatches. Spread the web of compassion to embrace my own culture, cut it some well-deserved slack. The insecurity that most of the world lives in has come to our shores.
Now there will be more xenophobia. The part of America that I have big problems with will come back to the fore. Africa will be left to its own devices as resources are diverted to the war against the terrorists, and support systems already woefully inadequate will collapse, which will result in all the more loss of species and cultures. A whole lot more loss is in store. I am starting to dislike this word. It’s one of these buzzwords of the moment, like closure, and oxymoron a year or two ago, which is already old and on the way out. But the very fact that it is in such wide circulation these days is perhaps telling.My ability to travel safely and report these Dispatches will undoubtedly be impacted, and to place them in magazines that were hemorraghing ads even before all this and will have less space and inclination to run long stories on foreign subjects that are not about the Middle East, that will shed light on the enemy. I will be leery like everyone about taking airplanes. And airplanes have been an incredibly important thing in my life. They have transported me to new worlds, opened my eyes to the astonishing diversity of life on planet. My grandfather was a partner of Igor Sikorky and Serge Rachmaninoff in the twenties. They developed the Pan American Clipper ship, whose maiden flight was to Rio. One of my aunts was on it. This summer my second son, a junior at Yale who is half-Brazilian, flew to Rio and fell in love with a girl there. Twenty-five years ago, I flew down to Brazil and fell in love with his mother in Brasilia. We divorced after I met the woman who has been my wife for the last eleven years on an Air Ethiopia flight from Entebbe, Uganda, to Rome, on October 4, l987. So I associate planes with love, not terror and death, and I will do my bit for the economy by continuing to take them. What curious times these are ! It has become our patriotic duty to keep traveling, consuming, shopping, investing, spending money, so the economy won’t collapse. There is no rationing to put up with—yet.
On the Friday after the attack, the Day of Remembrance, I listen on my truck’s radio to Billy Graham addressing much of the American establishment at a church in Washington. “This earthly tent is temporary, but the house of God is eternal.” And God is on our side, God will help us do what has to be done. A few minutes later, an interview given by Bin-Laden several years time ago is quoted. “From this mountain in Afganistan, God helped us destroy the Russians, and now He will help us make America a shadow of itself. And the war against the Americans will be much easier.” So God is on both sides, hedging his bets. “Just like he is at the Army Navy game,” the writer Russell Banks who is my neighbor in the Adirondacks, reminds me.
The world is going to take a huge step backwards, back to the Middle Ages, Banks predicts. It’s going to be the Christians against the Muslims, the crusades all over again. The president even used the word crusade, apparently oblivious to its unpleasant historical resonance for Muslims. Another friend, the New Hampshire poet John Van Hazinga, e-mails a poem he has written called “Hellsapoppin.” There’s a little town by that name south of Yuma Arizona, the hottest pocket of the country. Michiko Kakatuni had a column in the New York Times about how hard it was to find words to describe the attack and its aftermath. But if you had to sum it all up in one word, hellsapoppin is a pretty good candidate.Millions of people are e-mailing each other things they think might be helpful.
Someone sends me, and forty other writers in a discussion group started by Banks, this extraordinary poem:
I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odor of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
And the international wrong.
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.
From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allowed no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their message:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.This poem was written by W.H.Auden on the eve of World War II. It is called September 1, 1939. It has understandably been getting wide circulation. Even the New York Times quoted it. “Auden is a good person to read at times like this,” says Banks, and he tells me that at the end of his life Auden changed the line “We must love one another or die” to “We must love another and die.” Which is sadly the case. A correction that is impossible to quarrel with. A good catch. Russell gives me two other snippets from Auden:
Little boys obsessed by Bigness
Big pricks, Big money, Big bangs.
To regard statehood as anything more than a technical convenience of social organization—and few do not—is idolatry.
There is a lot of e-mailing in the New Age crowd, my New Agey sister tells me, about how this is a conflict between the dark forces of both societies, the capitalists (referred to in most of the e-mails as “the world management team”) and the Islamists, who are themselves both the puppets of larger, superhuman, cosmic dark forces that are orchestrating the destruction of the world. That there is definitely a dark side to our society there can be no doubt, but you don’t have to posit any mystical dark forces to explain why it exists. Ignorance accounts for most it. In Arizona, soon after the attack, some of the local boys gunned down a Sikh, an Indian from the Punjab, because he was wearing a turban and was the closest person they could find to an Arab. The governor of Louisiana made a declaration that he took a lot of flak and quickly apologized for: “we’re going to pull over everybody who is wearing a diaper on his head.” In Warrensburg, an hour south of where I live, a Getty station owned by a Pakistani (who are already being called “Pakis,” like the “Japs” of WWII) is pelted with eggs. The owner puts up dozens of American flags, and the egging stops.A week after the attack, there’s a lively gathering on the porch of the restaurant/bar in our little hamlet. Meat is sizzling on a gas grill, the local boys are all there, beer is flowing freely. It’s an end of the golf season celebration, I find out later. I swing by and ask a carpenter who has done work on my house, hey, what’s this all about, and he say, in his cups, “We’re going to kill some sand niggers. Want to join us? ”
Sand niggers. I haven’t heard this revolting term in nine years, not since the Gulf War, when the same regulars at the same watering place were hepped up about “nuking the sand niggers.” This term really gets under my skin, because my wife is African, and it’s an ethnic slur that’s built on an ethnic slur. It has twice the potency of your average slur.
I call the guy from whom I recall first hearing the term, back at the time of the Gulf War. He is a college-educated guy from an old WASP family, and he told me a joke about “sand niggers” from the local boys. He thought the term was hilariously funny at the time. I remember him saying, after I told him that the most disgusting term I’ve ever heard, “Come on. You have to admit it’s funny.” But now he doesn’t recall the joke or ever having told it to me. “I would never tell a joke like that,” he says. So he has grown, and is in denial about who he was then.
I realize that this could be another case of the useful, forgetting type of loss. We must forget our previous selves before we can grow out of them. Denial greases the skin-shedding process.
My friend tells me that he heard the term long before the Gulf War. He recalls a Jewish stockbroker on Wall Street applying it to the rich Arab oil sheiks who had America by the balls during the oil crisis of 1973. How interesting. So the attack on the tower could have a karmic, what-goes-around-comes-around aspect. “Those to whom evil is done/Do evil in return.”Anthony Sapienza, the aforementioned editor of The Spook who is a New Yorker through and through, tells me sand nigger is a street term that has been around since the seventies. There were “white niggas” in the South, and “sand niggas,” who included Syrians, Egyptians, Algerians, Indians, whoever was in the hood who wasn’t white or black. So apparently the term was picked up by Wall Street, and also by the rural rednecks. Anything society that could come up with such a term is sick, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe we should be looking within ourselves for the explanation of what happened. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” We have our own Bin Laden’s, our Timothy McVeighs on the right and our Ted Kaczynski’s on the left, our Columbines and police stompers of Rodney and sodomizers of Abner Louima. Every culture does. There is a Bin Laden in each of us. Most of us are able to keep him bottled, but if you push the right buttons, he will come out.
I refuse to be provoked by the carpenter’s invitation to “kill some sand niggers.” Instead I mumble something about having to get to the grocery store before it closes and drive back up the hill and split some very twisted and gnarly wood for an hour or so, until I can’t lift my splitting maul any more. I call my cousin, who lives in Long Island and could see the smoke engulfing lower Manhattan from Glen Cove beach. She has never heard the term and is appalled, but reminds me, “Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it what all Americans are like. Not every German is Hitler.”
She’s right, of course. At an anti-war protest rally in Cambridge, a young woman who had just started at Harvard as a freshman is photographed by the New York Times holding a placard that says AN EYE FOR AN EYE MAKES THE WHOLE WORLD BLIND. Gandhi’s dictum.
A lot of Americans and people all over the world—too many for the “world management team” —don’t want to see another Bagdad. But the Bush administration is going to be more sensitive to public opinion than the other side.So I want to end this, and to kick off the Dispatches, on a hopeful, positive note. Hope (although to the Buddhists it is one of the major causes of suffering) is absolutely essential if we are going save what is left of the planet’s biological and cultural diversity. (My friend Bill McKibben, who followed The End of Nature with a book called Hope, Human and Wild, was several years ahead of me in realizing this.) Without the hope that things can still be turned around, what is the point of living? What other reason can we give to our children so that they aren’t completely demoralized?
For the answer to such questions, I always take to the woods. Yesterday, the 23rd, day twelve of the post-attack era, I went roaming in the woods behind our house with my three little boys, looking for mushrooms, newts, salamanders, and whatever else might be out there.. Zachary, the six-year-old, said, “Look, Dad, a happy face.” He had picked up a birch leaf on the forest floor that had some holes eaten into it by insects. It is the same face that Zach’s teachers in Montreal put on his artwork and writing exercises. You will see what he was talking about. This is undoubtedly an accidental and perhaps, as Jung would say, synchronicitous convergence of nature and art, rather than art imitating nature or the other way around.