Professor Oak

From pencils to firewood, wood has helped shape cultures and continues to do so around the world. Prior to reading Macauley’s Interstice: Wood, we, as a class, confirmed a variety of ways in which wood maintains and expands societies in positive ways. Because of this, I, personally, obtained a great understanding of ways Macauley will identify with wood, and how it relates to the elements of our lives.
The two passages that moved me the most in Macauley’s Interstice: Wood gave me two new ideas of how wood is portrayed and used in our world. The first passage can be found on page 96, and it brings up the case that we evolved coexistingly with trees. Here, Colin Tudge believes that without trees, “our species would not have come into being at all.” Also, the reason why we have “dexterous hands and whirling arms” is because we spent the last 80 million years living with and around them. This passage strikes me because I never thought how much trees could have influenced us physically. It blows my mind how the branches and sticks of a tree could have influenced humans’ evolution of arms and legs. I guess it’s safe to say that our mentality, cultures, and physical states can all be thanked by the trees.
The next passage that hit me with knowledge is the little paragraph on page 97. In this paragraph, Macauley explains how four different Western cultures used trees after chopping them down. He goes on to say that the Puritan tree is chopped down “sanctimoniously”, or in better ways than other cultural trees. Colonial trees were cut down “unceremoniously” or informally. Political trees were planted and chopped ceremoniously, different from the Colonial trees, and finally, the Romantic Tree can be found preserved in parks, since its “spiritual authority derives from its independence from man.” After reading these ideas of different Western trees, I’ve come to understand not only the differences between cultures, but also how different societies use their chopped down wood to strengthen their daily lives.
Moving on from the reading, in my personal life, there is a certain form of art that captures the essence and beauty of wood. Throughout my childhood and young adult life, video games, at least the ones I play, have shown me how wood – and all the other elements/interstices – play a large role in human existance. Two examples of wood found in videogames come to mind right away: Pokémon and The Legend of Zelda. (If the title wasn’t already a hint) Pokémon was bound to be in this post concerning the interstice of wood. In both the anime and videogame series, Pokémon Professors are named after different types of wood. The six main Professors are Oak, Elm, Birch, Rowan, Juniper and Sycamore. These professors give the main character in the series their first Pokémon, and has wisdom of all the different types of Pokémon in their specific region. Keeping this in mind, let’s move onto The Legend of Zelda.

great deku tree

This is a picture of the Great Deku Tree, the wise Tree that brings life annd a whole new adventure for the main character, Link, to experience.
In The Legend of Zelda, you start out in a wooded village, called Kokiri Forest, where you find yourseld living with a bunch of other young children who call themselves the Kokiri. The village is made up of signs, tree houses and shops that are all made out of wood. Personally, I feel that the designers of this game chose a forest as the first area of the game simply because woods and trees symbolize a fresh beginning, or a birth of life. Behind this village is where the Great Deku tree lives. Both he, and the Pokémon Professors mentioned previously, not only give the main character in their respective games information about the world and how to overcome challenges, but also give their journeys a purpose, an idea or theme that makes the player of the game have the urge to not only play, the game, but also beat it. Because of these two ideas of wood in two totally diferent video games, children as young as I was when I first started playing them begin to understand the utmost importance of wood.

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One Response to Professor Oak

  1. David Macauley says:

    Hi Wendy (and students), I’ve been enjoying your blog and class discussions at a distance. Lots of interesting and insightful thoughts, comments, and questions. If I can be of any assistance, please let me know. Hope you keep up the great elemental dialogue. Cheers, David

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