Is nature nice?
I'm thinking about it because of some very nasty nature scenes in the really very interesting movie King Kong (2005). And also because we encountered some surprisingly unnice nature in Hawaii last month--if only briefly, on the "wet" side of the big island. Contending with a heel full of sea urchin quills, the constant noxious smell of African tulip trees in the rain, and the grating sound of coqui frogs, I was ready to retire into a book...and (what's the matter with me?) I was reading a novel about a leper colony. Nature was not seeming so nice.
I was amazed to read recently that nature hasn't always been found glorious and appealing. Roderick Nash, in Wilderness and the American Mind, says that untamed nature has often been thought of as dark and fearsome. "Wild" doesn't have to connote anything positive. The idea of nature as the ultimate cathedral is a cultural invention. As a nature lover (98% of the time), that claim surprises me, but surely it must be true. Maybe it's because we live in a world with vastly too much "city" that so many of us long for "country."