Re-Wilding Imagination: Mimesis and Ecological Restoration.
17, 4 (Winter 1999): 219-226.
by Michael Vincent McGinnis
I am convinced that the secrets of nature can be spontaneously portrayed in the arts, and
that the arts are imperative to restore a culture's relationship with nature.
acknowledge that my hands, the dance of speech, my thoughts, my feet and my arms,
when combined, can be the theater of a furious rebellion, I also recognize that these
reaching thoughts and actions often take refuge in the body never finding community.
Without a community, each of us faces the misery of the limits of the body and an
Community can be restored by the direct human participation with nature.
is a means to cultivate the animal to being human and the natural to our denatured
My view is that community-based restoration— in the form of dance, poetry,
theater, other arts, and ritual— is a means to recover a wild sensibility so that we can
learn lost social and community values.
By fostering restorative relationships with
nature, we can create a healthier community.
Mimesis: A Technique for Reconnecting Nature and Culture
Mimesis is the journey forward to the realm of lucid imagination.
To mime is defined
in the Webster's New Dictionary and Thesaurus (1990) "as any dramatic representation
consisting of action without words; a mimic or pantomimist.—
apt to imitate;
characterized by imitation.—
one who imitates, an actor skilled in mimicry.—
imitative; mock or sham.—
to imitate, to ape." Mimesis is a process of culturally
and imaginatively constructing nature.
The cultural importance of mimesis is more than this definition implies.
It is in the
spirit of imitation and mimesis that our denatured society can retrieve a wild imagination.
Mimesis comes from the problem of how to seduce others—the birds, snakes, spirits,
mountains, and other human beings that are members of the community.
to bring things together, to reproduce oneself, to be at the same time oneself and the
other, to be both outside oneself and with oneself, where the division, distance and
boundary between oneself and others become less clear.
It is the space where boundaries
and distances intersect.
Creative imagination and the act of mimesis go hand in hand.
The concept of mimesis
is part of Greek drama and Celtic action.
In Celtic action and artistic expression, mimesis
reveals the material and spiritual forms of nature.
In antiquity, dramatic acts were
attempts to represent the physical world through art and language.
Aristotle, tragic poetry and mimetic art disclosed a systematic and logical unity in the
The artistic representation of the natural world in tragedy served as one means
to unite the human condition with the natural world, to allow for the mediation of the real
and ideal (Plato), to support the synergy between the particular and the universal
(Aristotle), and to serve the theoretical articulation of universal forms such as the Good,
Truth and Beauty.
The representation of these universal forms symbolizes the