25 July 2008

Goats / Tea / etc.
: comparative musings on tea, goats, and other 
passions, attaining to unification of the dialectical
underpinnings of this one 美国的布朗族

The above image was captured by myself in the Bulang Mountains of southwestern Yunnan Province, Spring 2006.  It portrays what I consider as fundamental to my work with Living Systems Land Management (LSLM) - a critical engagement at the intersection of tradition and modernity.  We often refer to our vocation as modern-day pastoral nomads; grazing specialists; resource managers; hi-tech-lo-tech.  Each of these descriptors contains both a rudimentary and an advanced component; I will leave it to the reader to decide which is which, as it is the intention of neither your author nor of LSLM to advance one perspective over the other.  Rather, we hope to contribute towards the resolution of such artificial binaries.

While not in the field tending herds for LSLM throughout the state of California, I conduct on-going research into landscape transformations - biological, cultural, conceptual - taking place within the domain of pu'er tea.  Said domain extends from the centuries-old tea gardens of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China and into teashops and homes of connoisseurs throughout the world via routes of transnational market exchange.  This tea exists not only as a material expression of the environs from which it is sourced, but as a conceptual vehicle for engaging in discourses of ecology; ethnicity; indigenous/scientific knowledge; market exchange; hygiene; spiritual cultivation.

Thus, it aptly demonstrate the way in which Nature, as global discourse, can extend itself into a multiplicity of realms, serving as a paradigm through which to construct a comprehensive epistemology.  However, let us not forget about nature with a small 'n', lest we subvert the immanence of lived experience - the full body and pleasing fragrance of Bulang Mountain savored from a celadon cup.