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Making Sense

Beauty, Creativity, and Healing

Bandy Lee, Nancy Olson and Thomas Duffy

Regardless of field, from the art world to healthcare delivery, there is a growing need for practically useful theory and theoretically informed practice. The time is ripe for a collaborative, creative conversation among thinkers and doers who are concerned about the larger world and our role in it. Making Sense: Beauty, Creativity, and Healing is a collection of essays and creative expressions written and produced in relation to a colloquium that tried to address these matters at the Whitney Humanities Center of Yale University. Beginning with a powerful essay on the individually and globally therapeutic qualities of art and beauty by Elaine Scarry of Harvard University, this volume brings together a diversity of theoretically minded scholars, scientists, artists, and healers. In the form of critical and reflective essays, alongside images, poetry, and fiction, this book allows the reader to experience the bursts of ideas and sensory triggers that respond to and extend the artistic installations and performances of the colloquium – and welcomes the reader into the conversation.
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Nature as a Source for Human Healing


by Stephen R. Kellert

Humanity is the product of its evolved relationship to nature, countless yesterdays of ongoing interaction and experience of the natural world. Our senses, our emotions, our intellect, and even our culture developed in close association with, and in adaptive response to, the nonhuman world. Moreover, our physical and mental health, productivity, and wellbeing continue to rely on our connections to nature, even as our world becomes increasingly fabricated and constructed.

This contention defies what many have come to believe is the foundation of human progress and the hallmark of contemporary civilization: the conquest and transformation of nature and our seeming triumph over our biology as just another animal species. Many people today view society, far from depending on nature, as having overcome reliance on the natural world through the wonders of science, engineering, and mass production. They marvel at our ability to communicate in seconds, gather vast amounts of information, defeat diseases that once ravaged millions, and obtain goods and services that even the most privileged could not have imagined a few centuries ago. They wonder, do we really need nature for anything but raw materials that can be transformed into better uses, and perhaps for an occasional outdoor experience, nice but certainly not necessary?

Contemporary society is justifiably proud of its standard of living, physical health, and all the material comforts it has achieved. Still, to be successful and sustainable, not just materially but also psychologically and...

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