Sunday, September 7, 2008

After Thoughts to 8/16 Event

2pm, near low tide. At low tide, my physical presence and faculties feel more reliable. The light is strong and the shore is broad. Masses of un-degraded glass, metal and rubber spot the shorefront, artifacts of distant and not-so-distant pasts. Carcasses of marine life are deposited as high as the highest watermark. There are the fresh remains of two baby sharks. Horseshoe crab bodies strewn everywhere have left their ancient elegance as a gift to the living. This is their spring breeding ground. These failed to make it back to the ocean. I wonder what became of their children.

I am alert to my senses of balance and vision. These broken pieces of glass and dead marine life that await my every step insist that I be so. This is what this place is telling me. I must remain alert. Alert to the senses; alert to neglect. The things we have neglected threaten us and are easy to dismiss; easy to never confront again. There is an awareness gained in effort and confrontation that is lacking in comfort and isolation. We have to perceive something to be reminded of its existence. We have to move to it and move inside of it in order to perceive it. Here I perceive evidence of culture and human behavior embedded in the shore. Excess, forgotten efforts to curb consumption, a seemingly irreversible obsession with putting products into the world.  

We have barely moved beyond these methods of dealing with refuse. How would our behavior change if we visited our waste once it left us? ... Instead, we cover it, sweep it under the land, throw more land on top and hope the earth doesn't notice. What more does this site tell me about our behavior?..We avoid a lot. We disregard what is no longer of use to us. We move operations elsewhere and expect unresolved issues to resolve themselves. We choose to remain at low tide when the flats are expansive and there is a comfortable distance between the tall imposing grass and the water line. We value comfort. We avoid failure. We often fail to admit failure and present success as if it exists in a vacuum. Our failures can be beautiful. We have choices.

Does the condition of this site matter? Does it matter that glass and metal and rubber and hardware that forces of water and wind and earth's rotation can't remove are littered across this beach? Does it matter that they have been here for nearly 100 years and that they will be here for 100's of years to come? That we are creating more and more of them every second. 

There are other beaches that accommodate our needs more simply; for personal, physical and spiritual renewal, entertainment, vanity, sanity, tranquility, perspective. This place, although surrounded by a persistent natural beauty, is full of forgotten waste. This garbage does not lend me tranquility, entertainment, physical and spiritual renewal ... perspective, yes, sanity, in a way. A reflection of my own actions and the cultural actions I have chosen to engage in. Why not just leave it a site unseen and let it exist outside of my reality. There is a depth in confronting and rectifying one's actions that speaks to our ability to evolve. We have built many systems -judicial, social, religious- to allow ourselves to do this. And they are all intended to keep us connected to something that is larger than our own personal interests and private realities.

3-D Photos by Gerald Marks

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