Remember how nature programs used to be? A cloud forest, gorillas appear from the mist to a hushed a reverent voice over, maybe a small solitary Attenborough giving the awesome exotic landscape a human scale.
Remember the first time you switched on the TV to beautiful scenery, no people, mountains reach down to a sparkling clear lake - what's that SUV doing? Oh no it's a car advert. Find beautiful virgin landscape and be the first to wreck it.
And now in a curious clarksonification all nature / science programs include long sequences of the presenter fourwheeling, flying, helicoptering his way to the remote spot he's going to describe for you. Even a series on the solar system, while mercifully not demanding personal space flights, had him jetting round the world to show us an interesting rock formation that reminds him of Ganymede.
It's too ubiquitous to be a coincidence. Part of the fantasy is that you too could get there if you were rich enough. Most cruelly ironic was the closing scene of Tropic of Cancer, a deserted beach that had just been cleaned up but was still strewn with plastic rubbish from the pacific gyres. Closer examination showed that the sand was actually mostly small plastic particles. He made a heartfelt plea for us to stop trashing our world. Shame we'd just seen him flown there specially by helicopter.
Where is nature? wildness? Out There in the old programs, now it must also be accessible, clearly a paradox.
The Wild Places, The wilderness within, by Robert Macfarlane takes us firmly back. To Britain, where he finds wildness in Essex marshes, the top of a tree, or "looking down into a gryke in the limestone pavement, filled "with a tiny grove of ferns, mosses and flowers. This, Roger (Deakin) suddenly said... is a wild place. It is as beautiful and complex, perhaps more so than any glen or bay or peak"
Under Roger Deakin's example, Macfarlane leaves behind the initial conception of the utter, outer form of wildness. "I thought about how the vision of wildness with which I had begun my journeys – inhuman, northern, remote – was starting to crumble from contact with the ground itself... The human and the wild cannot be partitioned. Everywhere that day I had encountered blendings and mixings."
I wrote this by a tiny stream in our garden, surrounded by weeds and overgrown trees. Wildness is still in us and all around us, in all the abandoned in between places no one has managed to grind up into money yet. Waiting to be let back in.