in My Work, Research

“Men can do everything except build a nest” — Man-made & Nature

While I was reflecting on this reading, I was coincidentally listening to “Home” from The Wiz. The lyrics did also provide some insight that resonated with the sentiments of “Home” or “Nest” from Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space (1958), section 4: Nests.
Lyrics will be attached below.

In this paragraph on the third page into the chapter, this analogy shared had started a chain of thoughts and ideas leading to the general topic of Men’s relationship with nature and how this proverb can be true and false at the same time.

Men have always separated themselves from nature, whether for convenience in the identification of subjects in our environment or perhaps from a utilitarian point of view, where men are the pinnacle of creation and have dominion over land and animals.

This phrase might simply mean that men are not able to build a nest that a bird would want to live in as it was not built by the bird itself, but it also has the connotation that men just do not have the ability to build a home like how these animals do.

However, if we remove the differentiation between man-made and natural, where men are seen as part of nature and the natural world, have been able to build complex machines and structures, involve interior design, ergonomic designs, location variability etc. This shows that men are able to build a nest as well as birds, and there is some form of “blood”, “sweat” & “tears” involved, albeit being minimally or very destructive to the surrounding environment. This does not only refer to the current housing infrastructure we have now but can be dated back to the neolithic periods or Stone Age.

Like how the bird adapts and creates its nest using their bodies, men have found the ability to adapt to their environment, modifying them drastically to fit their needs and wants. Whether the inhabitants build their own house from scratch or purchase it from the housing board, there is a certain aspect of ownership or hardship, that gives these houses a sense of home or belonging. Slowly, the cold concrete wall of a house develops and grow into something familiar and comforting, just like the wall of the uterus as it prepares its “nest” for zygote.

Looking at our very first home, the womb, we realise that the mother’s body, as nature intended, is like a nest that provides warmth, comfort and security. While we don’t have memories of being in the womb, simply curling up into a foetus like position can prove to have a calming effect and is also strangely comfortable.