Tuesday, March 27, 2012

As part of my job the last few years I am required to travel
to our other location. Nothing onerous I travel by bus and
spend on average of one night a month in a commercial hotel.
I did learn that a lot of the people staying there seem to spend
part of each week away from home so I am quite lucky. It did
however focus my attention on the area around the hotel. All
cities seem to secrete these rings of car lots, train tracks,
outlet malls, lots full of satellite dishes, sandwiched between
fast food restaurants, propane tanks and of course hotels
and motels for the weary traveller.  I have not seen them
celebrated a lot in literature but I have not looked
Alain de Botton mentions these areas in some of
his books like "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work" and
"The Art of Travel" but his books leave me unsatisfied.
J.G.Ballard whose early science fiction themed work I love
wrote a number of later dystopian novels set in high rises,
traffic islands, malls etc. and despite the fact I rarely finished
these novels I often think of them when I confront this landscape.
It is hard to take any great stand against these areas they are
part of every city and a necessity it seems to a way of life that
allows many of us to enjoy a greatly expanded life expectancy,
modern medicine, ample food, great leisure activities travel,
security etc.

However their growth strikes me as predicated only on
expediency, economy and convenience. They owe nothing
to grace or charm or beauty or the human spirit. No one
sleeps there but the displaced.

While on the trip I mentioned in my earlier post
we got up early to take the dogs out and I
photographed the area around our perfectly nice hotel. 
At least there was one familiar face and having the
whole family there made it much friendlier.



"I knew I'd have to face my aging
and my death, but not
the death of forests, not of oceans, not the air:"

Mountain Ash without Cedar Waxwings
Robert Pack



"I feel as empty as my mountain ash
without the cedar waxwing here,
I feel the loss, wide as out universe,
of everything that I hold dear?"

Mountain Ash without Cedar Waxwings
Robert Pack


"I believe in my own obsessions, in the beauty of the car crash,
in the peace of the submerged forest, in the excitements of
the deserted holiday beach, in the elegance of automobile
graveyards, in the mystery of multi-storey car parks,
in the poetry of abandoned hotels."

                     What I believe
                               J.G. Ballard



Perhaps some balance would be nice.


9 comments:

sandy said...

You got some really nice photos. The thing that always hits me about areas like this is that they are all the same. You can't even tell what city you are in.

Guy said...

Hi Sandy

Thanks. Your right this is sort of a universal architecture we have created around this landscape of industrialization a common language of fairly dreary objects.

Regards
Guy

Gary said...

I think Guy the cities are dying, strangled to death by a dying economy, especially the US economy, and the death of education for education sake. Its fun just to read, not for any purpose,and now research is pointing out that manual exercise, the pursuit of thought just for fun inhibits senility. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Guy said...

Hi Gary

Your comment has got me thinking so you will get several replies.
As someone who in the past studied and worked in archaeology I have always been interested in why cities live and die. I was born in Windsor so I got to watch Detroit change from a vibrant city to a shadow. I always point to the closure of the Packard plant in 1956, the year I was born as an interesting event not because it closed but because the site was never reused. (pictures on the web ) At the time no one would have realized that this could be a sign that manufacturing in the US and Canada was beginning to decline. Now in Canada we are told that our population has to increase to fuel our lifestyle so Toronto expands further and further into the countryside gobbling up farmland and all the charming towns around it in a quest for more unaffordable housing. Calgary, Edmonton and now Saskatoon seem to be headed the same way. Meanwhile in Detroit and Cleveland they tear houses down and discuss ripping up expressways for urban farms and community gardens. It seems that should teach us to do things differently but I am not convinced we learn from the mistakes of the past.

Guy

Guy said...

Hi Gary

I am glad to hear you stick up for reading. With the high cost of educations people speak out about a liberal arts education but since studies seem to say people will have a lot of careers in their life now, maybe they should experiment at school with both the arts and the sciences. I know my books both entertain and teach me about the world and my place in it. Whether it is the science fiction of Andre Norton or Clifford Simak or the pulp tinged writing of Lovecraft, to anything about evolution and Darwin, poetry or a classic like Moby Dick or the Divine Comedy they tell me how others felt, acted, perceived the world. Today when I see are the changes in the world I try to keep my perspective by remembering that Richard Burton wrote in 1621 '' I hear new news every day, and those ordinary rumours of war, plagues, firs, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions, of towns taken, cities besieged, in France, Germany, Turkey, Persia, Poland, &c., daily musters and preparations, (rest at link ) http://www.bookride.com/2007/04/anatomy-of-melancholy-robert-burton.html as he worried about the causes of depression ( he called it melancholy ) and that Thoreau in the 1850’s wrote “Through want of enterprise and faith men are where they are, buying and selling, and spending their lives like serfs.” about the dangers of consumerism. This reminds me that people have always been concerned with the future and the changes it will bring. I am sure I will not like a lot of them but my plan is cultivate my own garden, and spend time with the weather and nature with a dog and a book close by.

Guy

Kathie Brown said...

Guy, what a thoughtful and sad post, though I do see some beauty in your photography. I love the poem by Robert Pack, especially theses lines, "I knew I'd have to face my aging
and my death, but not
the death of forests, not of oceans, not the air:"

Guy said...

Hi Kathie

Thanks I did find the poem by Pack was really well written and he said some things I have perhaps only felt deep in my heart until now.

Thanks for commenting.

Guy

Lené Gary said...

Hi Guy,

This is a powerful series. I feel very lucky to live in a primarily forested landscape now, where people work hard to protect it.

Warmly,
Lené

Guy said...

Hi Lené

I am happy we have the cabin now in Saskatchewan, so we have a retreat from the city and a more wild area to enjoy.

Regards
Guy