Landscape, Colonialism and the Unused Two-Car Garage

A landscape is a stretch of land that has been improved by rational planning, sculpting of the land, and the addition of shrubberies, lanes, paths, buildings and other aesthetic features designed for contemplation. It is the way by which the training of a prince in the art of poetry is transferred to the administration of his princedom. In the post-aristocratic world, it is a romantic view-scape, in which individual identity-selves look out independently over an expanse of nature (everything that is not the individual identity), which is contemplated as a sense of space and freedom. This sense of landscape is largely 19th century. With its roots in art practice, it is largely visual. One looks out, after all. In this respect, the houses below are extensions of individual human selves and are constructed like those selves and serve as comfortable seats for them. They are kind of like full body shoes.P1980945

At the origin of the history of the self (17th century England and 18th century Germany) the concept was cut free from the old aristocratic and religious world, which saw human identity as a function of the surrounding space. This sense of separation between humans and the earth remains an integral part of landscape today. In fact, it creates the idea of Nature. According to the game, the landscape below is called, surprisingly enough, Nature.P1980947This divide between humans and nature, and this severing of individual identity from the physical world, is one of the ways in which colonialism is aggressively furthered. It is also largely a construct of power and display. The uniformity of the houses below is countered by the degree to which their views are impeded by others, as well as the degree to which they impede the view of others — not other houses but other selves, looking for access to the natural world, denied them by the power displays of others.P1980949

 

As with all art forms, this live-in landscape model, this corporatization of landscape with 3,000 and 4,000 square foot pseudo-humans comes with an intricate set of rules. Simply living in nature would be outside of the art genre, and earns the term of “homeless”. “Homeless” people, those who do not participate in this hierarchal art-making, are not considered true citizens of the view state, as, of course, they are not. Many social problems follow from this forced removal of many citizens from actual citizenship. The task of setting this imbalance to rights is not to dispense with houses, of course, as in this climate shelter is mighty important, but a lessening of the negative environmental and social costs of this kind of art would be most welcome. Notice the row of loungers in the back yard below. Maybe it will even improve architecture. After all, why does the house below have a garage?

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8 thoughts on “Landscape, Colonialism and the Unused Two-Car Garage

  1. The separation of the human from “nature” is pernicious. From an English perspective I am struck by the lack of gardens as I look at this settlement. Is this deliberate? A moral or aesthetic choice or merely pragmatic? Also I see no places of work, at least no workshops, no farms, no stores or schools. No place of worship either. Is community formed in any way here?

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    • You have a good eye, Stephen.

      No, gardens are unwanted. Most people do not wish to have gardens. They wish to spend their time in nature instead, which is usually a beach in Mexico or Hawaii. Most external plantings of grass or trees in settlements today in this agricultural valley are managed, like those in front of hospitals and such like, for low-maintenance, low-care, sterile appearance, and are often contracted out to landscaping companies. If the houses are in large development areas, a fee of $200 or $300 will be levied every month to pay for this. I live in an older development up on the hill, where I have a garden, but I am penalized by the city for doing so. The aesthetic the city prefers is gravel. This allows water to go to vineyards producing ice wine for chinese billionaires. The land, which might grow food, is now being sold at inflated prices to the Chinese. Some countries have laws against this kind of thing. The model here is that farmers will receive subsidized water, so that people, who pay high water fees, will buy food from them; the profit is the degree of water subsidy. This is called free enterprise. There is a sports field in one of those views, a regional airport, and, against the far mountain, two schools. There are no services, workshops, farms, stores, or places of worship. This is car culture. Those are all off the edge of the image to the left. The houses immediately on the lake are pricey, running at a couple million dollars each. They are not designed for children. The industry represented here is “retirement”. The market audience are people who have made a fortune mining oil over the mountains far to the east, who come here for a dream of a recreational paradise in the sun (and winters in Mexico or Hawaii or Portugal.) Their money is invested in Toronto, which is a continent away. No, there’s not much community, except around sports. It is a culture of distinct individuals in competition with other distinct individuals. Common land is at a distance and is treated as the industrial property of the crown. The hill behind has been under land claim since 1895. The dealings were very shady. All together, this is why I’d rather live in Iceland. But Iceland passed a law: no land to be owned by foreigners. That stopped the Chinese… and Harold! 🙂

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      • It must be a Scandinavian thing. When I travelled with my family through Norway a few years ago, stunned by its beauty we learnt that they have a similar law. Here in England the super rich are cashing in on the London property boom ever pushing up property prices so that increasingly people cannot afford either to live or work there. I cannot help but feel that we are approaching a revolutionary situation. I have no enthusiasm for this. We saw enough of the effect of revolutions in the 20th century to see that they are nasty violent affairs that are destructive of human life. But it seems to be part of the nature of those who invest in the world of the super rich to take more and more and eventually that will meet resistance and it will probably be violent. I fear for my children.
        I do find the concept of “retirement” that is on offer to us pretty sterile and I speak as a 60 year old! God keep me from that!

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      • Agreed.

        Fortunately, as a writer I don’t get to retire.

        Unfortunately, as a writer I don’t have the income to do so anyway.

        The German Revolution of 1989 was a bullet-less affair, but, then, it began in a church, and it had 13 years of preparation, after being sparked by a concert one night far away in Cologne.

        Hopefully, this wasn’t just a one-off.

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