God’s Country ?

Times are a’changin’, but there is a generalised perception of Americans as somehow ignorant of of global ecological issues, and politically / geographically insular where their direct energy resource interests are not involved. Generally speaking I’m more interested in the perception than the presumption that it might in fact be true or worse still, some “evil conspiracy”.

I’ve seen a fair bit of the globe in my time, spoiled and unspoiled, and having been resident in the US for 4 months now, we’ve travelled a fair bit of this country too. A thought keeps striking me, as we explore rural backwaters, that might give some sense as to why its citizens could easily be blind-sided (media aside) to the world as one interdependent socio-eco-system.

The place is big, with plenty of space (kinda obvious, but not actually all that big considering the distances that can be travelled easily on freeways in a day … don’t talk to me about air-travel). The point is that space, however big it is, is teeming with (a) life, and (b) diversity, and what’s more despite the manicured beautification of sub-urban living, and disneyfication of park attractions, there seems little “respect” for spoiling it. Even the most remote (but road accessible trail-head) trails host discarded food and drink containers at regular intervals.

The quantity and variety of the natural world here constantly amazes me, grasses, flowers, trees, spiders, butterflies, insects and invertebrates of all sizes, birds, snakes, and countless other reptiles and amphibians, before we even get to the larger mammals, and how could I forget the fish. Man’s presence is evident, but any negative impact on the eco-system is hard to imagine. You could easily imagine the garden of eden lives on.

4 thoughts on “God’s Country ?”

  1. Glad to hear you are getting around and yes it is a big country isn’t it?

    Yesterday my husband and I took a day trip to Yosemite National Park,(just 1/2 hour from our doorstep Hint!Hint!) I was so impressed that, although millions of people visit the park every year, there was literally not a scrap of trash to be seen anywhere. Good show.

    And now to Ms Rand. I have a confession to make. I, too, never completed her novel. I was eighteen when I read it and I was truly taken in by her first pages. I was thinking that here was something original! But after six or seven hundred pages I couldn’t do it any longer. I didn’t have the background to say what it was exactly that was wrong, except I just knew that someone who wrote so badly couldn’t be taken seriously.

    I told this to Pratt at one time and he said that it didn’t matter about her style…what amttered was her ideas. In my opinion, you just can’t separate the two. Bad writing…bad thinking. That’s what makes writing an art.

  2. PS. You probably know this, but just in case (and I think this may explain a lot) Rand was a russian immigrant.

  3. Hi Alice,

    I think you’re right and I hope I said that the formally recognised “parks” do show a sense of pride and respect in the “unspoiled” beauty (it’s not all disneyfied). But surprisingly (to me) the zillions of square miles in between are just as full of nature, but don’t seem to get the same respect. It’s that “surfeit of riches” that maybe gives the impression (to a foreigner) of “ignorance” – taking it a bit for granted, a bit “formulaic”.

    What was it Joni Mitchell’s big yellow taxi said ? … “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone; Pave paradise and put up a parking lot” … and that was 30 years ago.

    We’ve been planning trips for the longer weekends around labour days and thanksgiving. The west coast is calling, but that’s when you realise the distances demand air-travel, or whole week’s of free time. Business and pleasure, I’ve now experienced three totally abortive air trips, getting stranded further away from home than both where we started and where we were headed. Anything less than a thousand miles it seems quicker to drive – my recent average speed of air travel has been 500 miles in 30 hours, on a good day. Getting there though.

    Ah yes, Ms Rand. I could smell the “commie” backlash, and I guess I was aware she was of “eastern european immigrant stock”, but I’m not sure I’d actually twigged she was direct Russian emigre. Would explain a lot, not just her twisted sense of perspective in “the land of the free”, but perhaps that she was writing in something other than her native tongue.

    I did confess that despite her extreme politics (daren’t really call it philosophy) the story had the germ of an interesting idea in it, but she just didn’t have the resources to pull it off, artistically.

    Interestingly I am usually quite interested in the biographical background of the writers I take seriously – as I said of Pirsig, an important part of understanding where they’re coming from. Rand just didn’t grab me as worth the effort – and boy I didn’t skimp on the effort on Ms Rand.

  4. I have visited the UK three times and was always impressed with the unspoiled beauty of the countryside. London’s outskirts are another story.

    A story… my sister and I were in Wales and we picked up a brochure for ruined castles. On it we found Tintern Abbey (not a ruined castle to be sure). So off we went in pursuit of the abbey and followed the map. There was only one very modest sign which told us we were on the right road and at the bottom of the narrow Wye river valley, there stood the ghost in all its simple glory. Beside it was a tiny tourist stand.

    In the US there would have been billboards and maybe a roller coaster through the monument….either that or it would have been torn down in favor of a housing project. I am exagerating of course because where we live there is all manner of protected lands…Indian lands, forest service lands, bureau of land managemnet lands and national park lands.

    The downside to that is that we are surrounded and unable to have the kind of growth which promotes and insures economic viability. A crass thing, you may say, but not when you realize that it is prohibitively expensive for many to live here
    which affects the labor market…etc, etc, etc.

    We’re all tiles in a domino game.

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