The Dutch landscape is one of the ecological systems with high biodiversity value. It is interconnected to make a fragmented natural system that can support more human developmental activities and biological diversity. Over the years, the landscape has changed through massive developments to support conservation areas such as national parks and reserves and various human-developed facilities such as museums, schools, hospitals, offices, etc. Therefore, there is a great need for the protection of the country’s landscape to achieve sustainability. As a result, there are several environmental protection policies that the government has enacted for that purpose. According to one of the authors named Nescio, his story is about all the good things and lifestyles found in Amsterdam’s city. He views the city as a God-given city and themselves as God chosen ones. On the other hand, Betsky is an employee who works in the city center wherefrom his office and he can admire the city’s landscape. He sees the city’s landscape and developments as humans’ efforts to achieve their desires and fight back unfavorable conditions brought by nature. Thus, Nescio sees nature as a God god given beauty, whereas Betsky sees nature as a force to fight back and respect.
First we will look at how Nescio views Amsterdam in his story called “Young Titans.” The author’s views the city’s nature as God-given. He also considers himself and his friends as good kids who helped shape nature through God’s guidance. As they were growing, they passed through many life’s situations, and he admits that he is not a hero anymore. They considered themselves God-chosen ones, and through their roles in their landscape, the author argues that they were God himself. Although they were not clear about what they were going to do, they were going to do something. Maybe they would change nature or shape their landscape, and these ideas formed on their heads as they grew older. He stated that Bekker had an idea which he considers vague about blowing up all the offices. On the other hand, Ploeger wanted to make his boss experience a miserable ordeal by making him pack his clocks as he watches while smoking a cigar while cursing at all people who, in many cases, do wrong (Nescio p.35). In short, as young men, they all viewed and had a different perception about nature, yet they were all still drawn to it.
Nature provided Kees, who is the narrator, and his friends more experiences. Through the city’s landscape, they spent the entire summer nights around Oosterpark leaning against the wall and all the time having endless stories. Nature provided them with a landscape that had streets with curbs, melancholy, and bricks. Nature availed for them stars and darkness which turned pale above their heads. In the morning, they watched the sun come up and experienced the cold weather too. Nature also provided stones which they sat on and dike which they looked on with eyes closed. There was clean water by the seaside, and while admiring all these that nature provided, Bevink using his fist, hit his forehead while saying, “God, God, I’ll never paint that, I’ll never be able to paint that” (Nescio p. 36). Through this Nescio is further relating nature to God by showing how God is unable to be replicated.
On the other hand, Betsky views nature as a force to fight but should also be respected. Through his “False Flat” article, he describes his life as an employee who works in the city center. From his office, he could see all the good things humans have developed in their fight against forces of nature. He could look out over the city’s cultural core, where schools, hospitals, and museums create an eminently civilized society. Also, from a distance, he was able to see the harbor’s refinery stacks feeding the efforts and the cranes. Around where he worked, there were also significant architecture fragments such as housing blocks, hotels, and museums that had designs that articulated their functions, construction, and setting. That is what makes us understand the buildings in the city and how they existed. The design in the museum also provides a clear understanding of how these nature’s components relate to the rest of the environment (Betsky para. 1). Compared to Nescio, Betsky depicts nature as an adversary that is to be respected rather than seeing it as God given. Betsky’s view is further enforced when he talks about how humans have fought these forces of nature and overtime have become successful in their development programs.
Besides architectural infrastructures developed by man to fight against nature, there are also some of the things that nature provides automatically. He narrates that he lives on the eastern edge of the city. He talks about the rain that nature provides and commented that when it is not raining hard, he usually uses the bike while going to work. Nature also includes night, which is the time that he organizes events about Dutch architecture. There is also wind that he described as usually coming west. More importantly, there is a sea, and his house sits polder 18 feet below sea level. Separated from his home is a divided land from the water source, and they are three significant dikes. Since man has attempted to put barriers to keep nature at its place, he struggles against the winds while heading up hills on his way to work. The dikes in the area and water pumps that work day and night have helped his house from disappearing. In his efforts to fight against the forces of nature, man has erected these series of unseen water pumps and picturesque ponds. They have also developed a grid of small canals that have helped in the area’s drainage system to make it safe for human occupation and existence. There is also a tiny gray box producing a red light next to his house, and that is evident to him that technology developed by a human has made that landscape look serene (Betsky para. 3). Through this Betsky is showing how humans battle with nature even on a daily basis whether it be the dikes making sure his house doesn’t 18 feet below sea level, or the heavy rain and wind that inhibits Betsky from riding his bike to work.
In conclusion, both Nescio and Betsky are able to show the importance of nature and its role in Dutch landscape. On one hand, Nescio paints nature as a God given beauty unable to be replicated that provides an escape from the characters’ monotonous reality. On the other hand, Betsky depicts nature as a force that humans are in constant battle with just to survive and go about their daily lives. Even though Betsky talks about the relationship between humans and nature as an adversarial one, he gives nature the respect it deserves, and through many “battles” with nature the Dutch have adapted and made architecture that allows for the co-existence of humans and nature. Despite the authors’ different viewpoints, both are able to properly capture the importance of nature in Dutch history and culture whether one sees nature is God given or as a respectable adversary.
Betsky, Aaron. “False Flat: Why Dutch Design is so Good.” Phaidon
Nescio. “Amsterdam Stories.” New York, USA: Review Books