- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: North Atlantic Books (March 12, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781583945599
- ISBN-13: 978-1583945599
- ASIN: 1583945598
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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There Is a Garden in the Mind: A Memoir of Alan Chadwick and the Organic Movement in California Paperback – March 12, 2013
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“[There is a Garden in the Mind] is part philosophy, part personal meditation, and part tribute to a man who was a transformational figure in the organic movement that began from small seeds in California and has now reached a global community.”
“As a gardener, teacher, aesthete, and philosopher, Alan Chadwick was critically important to our understanding of organic and biodynamic farming in this country. No one can tell his story better than Paul Lee, who captures his spirit, and the birth of the California organic movement, with warmth, eloquence, and urgency.”
—Alice Waters, chef, restaurateur, owner of Chez Panisse, and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project
“There Is a Garden in the Mind is a masterpiece—a garden of rich soils, flowering plants, changing seasons. This is a powerful, compassionate story of Alan Chadwick’s and Paul Lee’s struggle to restore the integrity of organic nature into the hearts, minds, and hands of a culture that has forgotten that Garden Earth is the only home we have.”
—Sim Van der Ryn, professor emeritus, University of California, Berkeley; California State Architect emeritus; author of eight books, including Design for Life and Ecological Design
“If you think of Alan Chadwick as the man who taught us to double-dig our raised bed gardens, this remarkable account will take you back to the early days of what we now think of as the organic movement. A remarkable man, with a remarkable backstory!”
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“Paul Lee’s story of Alan Chadwick captures the wisdom and foibles of a genius. In Lee’s telling of the tremendous influence Chadwick had on the organic gardening and the environmental movement, he also lays out the profound philosophical implications of Chadwick’s work. Forty years in the making and well worth the wait.”
—Michael Stusser, Cowell College class of ’69, founder of Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, Freestone, California
About the Author
PAUL LEE studied philosophy at St. Olaf College and received his divinity degree and PhD from Harvard. He has taught at Harvard, MIT, and UC Santa Cruz, where he founded the UCSC Chadwick Garden with Alan Chadwick in 1967. In 1985 he founded the organization that became Santa Cruz's Homeless Services Center. His works include a book on homelessness, The Quality of Mercy, and a play, A Lullaby for Wittgenstein. The author lives in Santa Cruz, CA.
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The thing that I did not appreciate about the Kindel version of the book, purchased on Amazon, was that it did not have a table of contents that you could use to access individual chapters. You had to scroll through the entire manuscript to find what you were looking for.
Fred and Roberta Mc Pherson
Paul Lee's book is a good seed. -- Whether you have ever gardened before or studied philosophy, ancient or modern, or not. It is what others call "readable" and "relevant." The mind like the soil must be tilled to produce its best. This book is more than a kind of shovel or plow, though -- a simple tool to be set aside. It is a call to think, reflect and act for the betterment of all of us, our collective humanity.
It is like Gertrude Stein's autobiography (a story ostensibly about Alice B. Toklas, but telling Gertrude's story at the same time -- the difference is that, in this one, there is a "there there"). In that sense it is a passionate or com-passionate self-revelation -- a kind of Augustine's confessions or Montaigne's diaries. Unlike Gertrude Stein's work, the "there there" is the University of California at Santa Cruz in the middle of the Viet Nam War years, the 1960s, and the counter culture revolution - not Gertrude's otherwise boring or insignificant Oakland, CA, US at or before the turn of the 1900s. This world, that Paul Lee is writing about, was not an insignificant or otherwise boring place or time -- I was there and can testify to that, it is today.
For Paul Lee to work to make sense out of it all, like he has done in the Garden in the Mind, is a great relief. It took him some 30 years and more. He has articulated a paradigm for understanding the conflicts that we all feel -- the "physicalist" vs. the "vitalist." It is not anti-scientific. It is an urgent request that scientists or science (e.g.vis a vis GMO food seeds and their proponents; chemical fertilizer advocates or carbon fuel energists) become socially responsible and morally significant in the modern world, especially now, when science has established its hegemony over spiritual or "religious" thinking - i.e. the "organic chemist's" world over Chadwick's "organic universe." He, Dr. Lee, is simply elevating humans and humanist interests over chemical and inorganic economic interests.
The book is a plea consistent with the admonitions of the Dalai Lama to develop a secular ethics. "Help not hurt, in whatever you do or think," is what I would call Dr. Lee's message. It is the same as the message my Native American heritage speaks loud to me: Leave the world at least as well off as you found it, walk softly, and respect Mother Earth and all the beings.
Paul Lee clearly hopes the scientists follow suit. I sense that his and the Dalai Lama's motive is the same humanistic effort to stop the destruction and terror in the world by a simple, humanely compassionate, reflection that we are all human, all brothers and sisters, one way or the other. Ultimately, I feel, Paul Lee wants students, readers, and the general public to ask the scientists, the professors, the "experts" to make themselves accountable for what they are doing in their own careers and in the universities, research institutes, governments, and industries of the world. I think that is why some scientists considered Chadwick when he was at UCSC (and for no real reason) to be an enemy of their "organic scientific" procedures of developing things like agent orange, plastics, other pollutants, and artificial fertilizers and pesticides.
To transgress common sense and the universal wholistic concept of our universe is dangerous. Just look now at the legacy of the antibiotics we have been using ... now there are untreatable resistant strains of bacteria killing people. Those original medicines were originally developed out of a naïve belief we can stop one thing without creating another unwanted thing in reaction. What happens if we create super insects from pesticides, which insects can eat all the food? Instead of focusing on becoming healthy, becoming resistant to existing diseases, we create chemicals to kill bacteria and viruses, breeding ever stronger varieties. Those are not just stupid philosophical or literary issues. But this is not a negative book about inevitable doom, it is an encouragement to find solutions and create a better world.
Paul Lee and Chadwick were and remain like "peas in a pod." They did and do fertilize people's imaginations with new, and always positive thoughts -- and even more, ways to do things better -- a bit at a time every day - like making a great garden out of raw land, even bad land.
This book is beautiful 'in itself', as J.P. Sartre would say, and at the same time tells the story or points to a transcendent reality of what was happening at a time when people were, in effect, just coming out of the daze of how great industrialism and commercial agriculture were as an answer to the world's food problems and overpopulation. The book is about, in large part, a time when people began to throw off the plastic gorged consumer world and stop bombing and killing innocent people in Viet Nam and elsewhere, and that is what Chadwick's gardens embodied, and still do. It is also about today and how we can choose to go forward.
The importance of the book, as an intellectual contribution, is that it creates a new paradigm -- not a "deconstructionist" critique of Western Civilization - trashing everything with nothing to replace it -- but a "reconstructionist", renewed and re-affirmative vision that this civilization, as well as any other, can be in harmony with the universe, with each other culture, civilization, animal and plant all to our mutual benefit -- if we tend the universal Earth garden and put in the effort -- with love, attention, discipline, hard work and knowledge of how it works.
We can take back the Garden of Eden from history and resurrect it -- that is the message of Alan Chadwick's gardens and this book.
Thus, a kind of divinity in action is what the book is about, how to mesh the secular and the supra-secular or spiritual -- how appropriate for Paul Lee to espouse such simple but universal ideas as the long time ago teaching assistant of Paul Tillich, the spiritual existentialist. These are teachings that are consistent with every great spiritual educator from Buddha, Ghandi, the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Janists, indigenous people's traditions and others ... a love of this world and reverence for what is beyond it and around it ... in total. Highly recommended reading.
It is time to beat swords into plowshares, and make gardens not war - that is the inevitable message of a book rooted in the 1960s counter culture, student rebellion and baby boomer thirst for a better world -- To make human life better, not worse, and make the world better not worse. As the Dalai Lama says, we should work to encourage a secular ethics - one free of any religious or scientific prejudices and supportive of humanity in general - a garden in each and all of our minds. What a better format for such concepts than creating a new Garden of Eden, a secular gardening project for all humans in the whole universe, as a totality - un-dissected and wholistic - and a garden not just in the material universe but the ineffable soil of our own minds. That is the kind of vibe that Chadwick radiated, illuminated and was. He was not an ideologue, he was a supreme human being that you miss, if you knew him.
This is a book of currents -- Blending various ancient and modern commentaries and thoughts, and the varieties of ideas abundant today -- as in hybridizing plants or the meeting of rivers and the ocean in the estuaries of the world. And, currents we have. There is the current of Chadwick's life. There is the current of the history of science and western philosophy. There is the current of the last 50 years in the US and the gradual dissolution into a kind of mindless, inorganic swamp of modern materialism and technology.
Alan Chadwick was a phenomena, like a Lou Reed of vegetables, cut flowers and gardening and Paul Lee's book does Alan, Lou, and Paul himself justice. It is worth reading this book to touch those lives and realities, and more.
garden is still located on the Santa Cruz, CA campus. She was very pleased with this memento of her college years which, I believe, led her "down the path" to a lifetime of organic gardening.
Aside from the narrative events of Alan Chadwick's life, Lee's primary focus in this text is what he describes as the fundamental division in our culture, namely "industrial technocracy against organic nature, accounting for the current environmental crisis." The vitalist/physicalist divide, another dichotomy along the lines of the famous Two Cultures thesis of C.P. Snow, was responsible for the decline of vitalism as a philosophy with the discovery of urea in 1828. Lee argues here that this was the "moment when organic nature was collapsed into the inorganic, when everything was reduced to physical and chemical forces." The terrain was then left open to the existentialism philosophies of estrangement and alienation to fill this void left by a defeated vitalism.
The Garden in the Mind would be the working metaphor here, symbolizing the shift that has occurred, one from viewing the world as a vitalistic and organic whole, as against an inorganic and artificial technology that has prevailed for several centuries now. It is a schism that is "central to the Chadwick story." Paul Lee musters the conceptual formulas supplied by his mentors Paul Tillich and Hans Jonas toward the telling of this struggle between these contending forces. The Chadwick garden at UC-Santa Cruz was a microcosm of organic nature played out against the vast system of the "late stage of industrial self-destruction."
Taking the title THERE IS A GARDEN IN THE MIND from an essay by Norman O. Brown, this is a project Paul Lee has ruminated upon for the last forty years. In the Introduction to the book, he articulates a philosophical panorama of the antecedents of our schizoid modern era, where the too-heavy influence of various species of existentialism have affected our "hope against hope". Lee's philosophy of gardening is woven from many themes running throughout Western culture, from Homer and Virgil to Dante and Goethe.
So, who was this Alan Chadwick fellow, and what was his background? Born in 1909, he hailed from landed gentry, growing up in Bournemouth, south of London. His father was a lawyer, and the family had acquired their wealth through the manufacture of textiles. As Lee tells the story however, Chadwick seemed rather disassociated from this part of his past, preferring to live the lifestyle of an ascetic gardener. This was the side of his personality that was the opposite of the persona, of the professional actor, who previously had a career in the London theater world. Apparently, he was "always dramatic, in elocution, in gestures, in deep emotions." As a young man, Chadwick devoted his energies into painting, playing the violin, and also Shakespearean acting. However, World War II intervened, providing an abrupt halt to these activities, and Chadwick found himself as the commandeer of a mine sweeper in the British Navy.
After the war, he moved to South Africa to resume his acting career, and it was here that he immersed himself in designing a twenty six acre display garden. His tendency at this time was to become almost misanthropic, his dislike of humanity causing him to increasingly shut himself off from others. Chadwick had been influenced by the visions of Rudolph Steiner, who in turn took his inspiration of the vitalistic affirmations of organic procedures from Goethe. It was Steiner who provided the bridge back to the philosophy of vitalism first articulated by Goethe in his opposition to the mathematical physicalism of Newton and the burgeoning scientific age. "Goethe was Steiner's hero ... When Alan started to talk to me about Steiner and his influence on his work and the significance of biodynamics, I started to read Steiner's works, beginning with his book GOETHE, the SCIENTIST."
For Chadwick, the garden was viewed as the transformative ground of hope, and Paul Lee relates that "Life into death into life" was a favorite saying of Chadwick's as he talked to his students of compost as the material for new life. He was a driven man, working all day, seven days a week, on the garden project there at the entrance to UC-Santa Cruz. He had gone out and bought a Bulldog spade, and had just began digging, working himself over even as he worked over the hard pan soil, then double digging the soil to approach that state of cultivation in the garden of his mind. Using his own funds to meet the garden expenses, he dug and double dug, day after day, an enigma to the academic minions who drove past him each morning, an alien set down in their midst. With his visage, fierce and eagle like (Lee says he bore an uncanny resemblance to both Danny Kaye and Samuel Beckett), "he was a real nut about comportment. He taught his students how to walk. How to enunciate. Diction was extremely important to him, and he had to deal with all the dopey mumblers who stumbled in." And yet, he insisted he was not a teacher, even as he had a core of apprentices who attached themselves to him. Although he walked out on the garden project at the University after five years, the garden (and his legacy) continue to the present day. Chadwick had other fish to fry after Santa Cruz, starting gardens in Saratoga, Green Gulch, Covelo in Mendocino, and finally in West Virginia.
Paul Lee was Chadwick's benefactor in many ways, even arranging for Alan to spend his final days at the Green Gulch Zen Center in Marin when Chadwick's life ended from prostate cancer. Lee was the catalytic agent in so much of the events and scenarios that happened in those years, not just with Chadwick and the garden project, but also his associations with Page Smith in the beginnings of the William James Association, the California Conservation Corps, the Homeless Garden project, and several others. Thanks to Paul Lee and friends, a hundred or so of Chadwick's recorded talks are now archived at the McHenry Library on the UC-Santa Cruz campus.
And Alan Chadwick certainly was no Chance the Gardener either, with his periodic rages equal to anything Wittgenstein could produce. Apparently he suffered from being high strung and neurotic; together (a condition formerly called "neurasthenia"), they produced fits of ill temper that could erupt volcanically. But his needs were minimal too; he was completely self-reliant, and always went around in white shorts and boots. Although his intensity could be intimidating, he also had a most compassionate spirit. John Cage tells the story of the time he came to see Norman O. Brown. Along with Robert Duncan the poet, and Chadwick, they all sallied forth into the woods to collect specimens of local fungi, having a most memorable afternoon together.
In sum, it was Chadwick's focus and mindset that slowly caught on with people, namely, to work WITH nature, not against it, and thereby his gardens all spoke to this, and for themselves. Paul Lee aptly chronicles the life and times, not just of Chadwick, but of many others. If there would be any weakness in this text, it might be in the weaving trajectory of the narrative blend, at times wandering off into musing tangents that can be mildly disorienting. The long quoted selections of Tillich, Hans Jonas, Goethe, and Mumford, inserted mostly in the middle chapters, definitely slow the reading down too. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, especially given the vast terrain that Paul Lee covers in this lovingly produced work. This book is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in the legacy of Alan Chadwick and the times we all lived through during those bright shining days.