Serpent of Pleasure: Emergence and Difference in the Medieval Garden of Love

"Abstract: Set apart from the normal realm of moral judgment, the medieval garden of love is usually seen as a site that embodies the carnal and reprehensible human desires that humans must renounce in order to find God. This essay challenges that reading. It proposes instead that visual and verbal representations of the garden of love show it as a place where humans encounter the operations of emergence and difference, and through an immersion in the paradoxical condition of love discover a more vital humanity. The garden of love is a poetic and philosophical space in which humans recognize themselves as part of the complex and unpredictable systems that comprise the world. The garden places humans both within nature and in distinction from it, and its message is that human nature is to be honored not by transcending the condition of becoming, but by an immersion in the play of paradox and ambiguity that characterize it. This reading places garden-making, the first and founding practice of landscape architecture, at the forefront of contemporary rediscoveries of the role of complex adaptive systems in landscape architectural discourse."


-- Full PDF from Landscape Journal