Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nature Calls

Summer. Georgian Bay. In the country you have a better relationship with trees. Cities crowd them out or dwarf them with big buildings and concrete. Here they confer a feeling of peace and shelter. The painters of the Age of Romance liked to parachute them into the midst of ruins or over the heads of lovers. Nature settling back into place after people built and smashed their cities. Now it looks like big cities are here to stay, though given our history, I'm inclined to doubt it. The country always lures us back to a simpler life. People get dissatisfied and exhausted with a complicated world that robs them of their individuality and their tranquility. Suddenly they're ready to burn their prison camps and there's another war or revolution. If cities were more on the human scale they might have weathered these storms. Some old ones have. Though there's a new war-like mania in dealing with cities that don't suit us. They rot in places and then the developers come in, forever tinkering with them, to the point where it all gets out of hand and the city becomes a mish-mash of contrary impulses. The better parts that survive get knocked down to modernize everything, like the old buildings are out of place, or more like a reminder of how people used to live. As though no one should live like this anymore, knock these dissenters down to be democratic. No more privileged buildings or people, no more Old World. The war in the Middle East is about these things too, a clash of Ancient and Modern. And the West's longstanding intolerance of what is old and out of fashion has erupted from the smoldering Twin Towers to rain fire and punish these Medieval Arabs so they can have what we want for them, democracy, money instead of family, and religion on the back burner. The Arabs started it, but the West has been busy eroding their lives and culture for a century. Perhaps a rebalancing is going on between these two extremes, but it's a bloody one and could ultimately wipe out both civilizations. Back to the Stone Age. Hopefully the trees will still be waiting for us.

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