Plant Food for Thought

Nathalie Chicha responds to Russell Smith’s Globe and Mail article lamenting all the precise naming of plants in Canadian Literature. He thinks it’s “showing off.” Nathalie says:

The question is, why show off with that? “Showing off” is not a simple impulse, to which other things can be reduced; good analysis would realize how culturally mediated that term is, and ask why what’s being “shown off” has value. If naming plants is simply meant to show off knowledge, for example, wouldn’t such insecure precision show up elsewhere (in descriptions of architecture, food, clothing, etc.)?
Why not examine the intended effect, or the unexamined and inherited literary mode, of naming nature?


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