NATURAL RETREATS AND HUMAN WELL-BEING: READING THE SONG OF SONGS THROUGH THE LENS OF ATTENTION RESTORATION THEORY

Hendrik Viviers

Abstract


Working within the field of environmental psychology, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan developed their Attention Restoration Theory (ART) to address the problem of directed attention fatigue. ‘Involuntary’ attention can put the voluntary or directed attention mechanism at rest, to enable it to function effectively again. This happens markedly (but not solely) within natural settings that are both wild (e.g. reserves) and domesticated (e.g. gardens). Notions such as ‘being away,’ ‘‘soft’ fascination,’ ‘extent’ and ‘compatibility’ aptly describe the human nature relationship, and function as descriptive properties that natural settings require to enhance the restorative experience. ART has lately become extended to many fields to explain more than just focus, but overall human well-being and the facilitating role nature plays in this ‘healing’ process. Shining the light of these insights onto the Song of Songs, it was determined that this ancient book had an (intuitive) appreciation for nature’s healing/restorative powers. The focus was especially on the natural retreats of which the two young lovers often avail themselves (e.g. 1:15-17; 2:8 ff.; 6:11-12; 7:11-13; 8:5; 8:13-14) to escape their inhibiting society, and on how these retreats (unknowingly) comply with the mentioned restorative requirements.


Keywords


Attention Restoration Theory; Directed Attention Fatigue; Involuntary

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/115-0-1286

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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