Saturday, April 18, 2009

Eric Sloane and Stones; Fences and Walls



I picked up a new used copy of one of my favorite books that had gone missing. You could call Eric Sloane one of my heroes - his books and drawings taught me a lot about reading the landscape I loved to wander in as a child, especially along an old abandoned road called the "Stone Path" highway. Some 40 years after reading the book for the first time, I respectfully disagree with this hero of mine about some stone "fences," but that's okay. He does define the typical ones so well while it's the atypical I'm looking at, the stone rows that don't fit his descriptions, the ones that perhaps go back much further in time...


























































These drawings below do tell a story, but the landscape is much older than that. Sloane, somewhere or other in his writings, admitted he knew very little about Indians (while living in Kent, CT - not far from the Schagthicoke Reservation - his house now a Museum, if I'm not mistaken). The 'pristine wilderness' and 'virgin forests' are really myths; it was called Turtle Island by the civilization that actively maintained the landscape, created the abundance of resources that seemed like wonders to the early Europeans.
Many modern writers suggest that the land was more of a widowed landscape in the wake of the epidemics that wiped out up to 90% of the Native American Population, descriptions of Indians and their way of life and impact on the landscape more like describing the behavior of survivors after a Holocaust rather than an accurate description of a Civilization that modified the Landscape with little negative impact rather than - well, what we have and what we face in the future, as the ice caps melt, laws passed to make the amount of mercury in the fish more acceptable and phrases like "clean coal technologies" or 'safe nuclear power' pop up in what passes for news stories bursting out of strange electric powered boxes of all sorts and sizes - as if repeating something often enough will make it true...


I think I'll post this and then do some drawings 0f a landscape as I imagine it looked back in 1556- in other words, make an escape back into the past...






5 comments:

  1. I really love this part: "what we have and what we face in the future, as the ice caps melt, laws passed to make the amount of mercury in the fish more acceptable and phrases like "clean coal technologies" or 'safe nuclear power' pop up in what passes for news stories bursting out of strange electric powered boxes of all sorts and sizes - as if repeating something often enough will make it true..."

    It makes me think of all those ads and publicity about how clean and abundant natural gas is. They've done such a great job of brainwashing that some folks don't even realize that natural gas is a fossil fuel, let alone how dirty it is to extract and how much clean, potable water is contaminated forever, just to get natural gas out of the ground.

    Sorry about the soapbox, I just see the topics so intertwined: preservation of sacred places, living with truly "green" technology and discrediting the "laws passed to make the amount of mercury in the fish more acceptable", among other governmental un-truths!

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  2. Where did you get a soapbox strong enough to stand on? Apparently they are also something "they don't make like they used to." I just tried it out and the cardboard just collapsed. So I went to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soapbox)to look it up and found it IS something they don't make like they used to.(It also says, "A modern form of the soapbox is a blog.")I stole the "boxes" idea from Utah Phillips from whom I learned of the free speech fight. And, speaking of soap, it just occurred to me that John Watson, the father of american behaviorism, was involved in a scandal and had to change careers. He went into advertising and came up with many a slogan still used today, like "Ivory Soap, 99 and 44 one hundredths percent pure," convieniently leaving out the word "Lye," the caustic substance that is the main ingredient - sort of like two lies (lie and lye) make a truth. To me, it's all about the truth, no matter what the subject and if they don't make soap boxes like they used to, I'll speak the truth from where ever I am. One of my favorite quotes is from the singer Holly Near:“It is our apathy, fear, indifference, silence, and hopelessness that is a gift to those who wish to dominate. The greatest gift we can give ourselves, and the world, is to not let them have that silence.”

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  3. So that's where the gas industry gets the "we only use sand and water to frac" line from!

    I absolutely love the Holly Near quote! Thanks for passing it along because I know I'll be able to use it.

    You are right about the soapbox. It takes me a while to speak out but what with everything that's going on here in NY with the gas drilling issue I've gone from being a NIMBY to GP and have met some very fine colleagues in the anti-gas drilling camp.

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  4. I know what NIMBY means; what does GP mean?

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