Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Rot in Peace

I can't claim the title, because this is swiped from a Slate photo essay, written by Caitlin DeSilvey.

Only in this country would be find a way to justify our trash, which we've got lots of as well as explain away how quickly we make and then throw away.

I don't deny that there is something artful (if composed by a good photographer when the light--and the camera's light filters--are adjusted just so, but are we that desperate for historical meaning that ruined shacks become significant?


David said...

Okay, I admit that my initial reaction was too hasty.

I should read the full essay before making a judgement.

There are some intersting things stated in this piece.

Sven Golly said...

This isn't the 'history' of Great Men, famous battles, documents, and cathedrals, as recorded by the victors and fed to the masses for their edification, so it won't get funded. Although Caitlin DeSilvey does romanticize it a bit (The transience of human ambition is etched out in lichen on the iron of the former shaft works...), she raises some valid questions about the relative merits of restoring, preserving, removing, recording, observing, and letting things decay. Maybe the main question is when and where it's appropriate to do each of those 'histories'. Or we could convert them into gift shoppes.

Jack Thunder said...

i think you were too hasty.
the essayist wasn't wanting ruins to be Pop Art, but was making an argument about history.
(. . . tho one historical perspective would argue that everything man-made is equally artificial and/or commodifiable.)
thanks for the link. i think about stuff like this ALL THE TIME. not kidding. usually it's in a context of historic preservation vs. modern architecture. but i'm also aware of how culture is influenced by history and how (and you referenced this) this country is so ahistorical. where i'm from (oklahoma, statehood--1907) the impermanence of human construction is profound---try finding a structure that isn't a ranch house or a disposable stripmall. i would say that having no history might not be such a bad thing, but oklahoma isn't exactly a good role model.

but the debate raises many interesting questions.
my latest thoughts have centered on how 99% of the "nature" we see is still human-affected. try finding a river that is untouched by the corps of engineers.
"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so," eh? and my preference for "authenticity" seems more and more like fantasy.

(not that you asked)

anyway, it's all very complicated. and i think the questions raised by the photo-essay will only be answered by the fashions of the day. that, or a deadly global catastrophe! (personally, i find catastrophes more authentic!)