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From landscapes of the future to landscapes of the past

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Abstract:

In days gone by, imagined future scenes were largely preferred to those of former times. Ancient traditions of pastoral taste and picturesque nostalgia notwithstanding, landscape and nature in general were commonly devalued by comparison with the creations of culture and the scenes of history. The rural vistas on which many chose to cast their eye were utopian scenes ideally to come, rather than the depressingly backward lineaments of the old-fashioned past. Nowadays, the future is out of fashion, and scenes recalled from other ages are increasingly admired. Prospect yields to retrospect, technology to history. Environmentalist morality promotes appreciation not only of wild landscapes but of past rural scenes, valued as more diversified and less destructive of nature and locale than today's high-tech agricultural landscapes. 'History' is becoming an adjunct to, rather then an enemy of, 'ecology'. I discuss these trends in term of changing views of art, religion, nature and human nature.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00291959950136858

Publication date: October 1, 1999

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