Tuesday, February 2, 2010
What's wrong with this picture?
As Jan and Jesse and I whizzed into Mancos, the lumbermill caught our attention, but then one of us noticed the sign and the moment had to be preserved. This was the day or two after Thanksgiving when we spent a magical few days on the road to Durango to visit our buddy Jeff Wagner and his estancia (now smothered with unbelievable quantities of snow, we hear), but then it was in early wintry glory. We visited Mesa Verde and Fort Lewis and FINALLY saw Pinus strobiformis (Colorado's rarest and most majestic native tree--more anon) in the wild...very productive coupla days...
Speaking of contradictions, this past Sunday evening the three of us, along with Peter (Panayoti!) Podaras went to see Avatar: the current movie phenom. I may be the only American who has never seen Gone with the Wind, Titanic, the Godfather nor Star Wars, so it was something of a sacrifice to succumb to this bout of popular culture, but as a botanist/horticulturist I was told it was incumbent upon me to check out the extraterrestrial flora.
Of course, the plot line was thin, (so is the acting). It's basically an action flick/cartoon: the 3-dimensionality is really superfluous in my opinion. I admit, under duress, that I was swept along anyway. The trope of having a man in a wheel chair assume an athletic avatar form was clever, and Sigourney Weaver always shines: the special effects (however) are the real stars. The theme (for me) was troubling somehow: pitting the crude mechanicality of the armed forces against primal, throbbing nature was a tad too Manichean. Albeit it matches my own cosmology a bit too comfortably I fear... Watching the American army be decimated by dinosaurs and pterosaur "cowpokes", G.I.'s literally skewered right and left when we are engaged in a war of sorts with cultural dinosaurs in the Mideast struck me as verging on the fringes of treason (albeit the very outer fringes...). The metaphor does not map out in Iraq and Afghanistan (which emphatically do not have rain forests, and nary a single near naked, giant, blue female Taliban). One particularly dramatic moment when the arch-evil Army commander is impaled by arrows might have been greeted by cheers in another context had he not been an agent of the US Army. The silence was deafening. The theatre was sold out. And we are all of us conflicted.
What a strange paradox we are living: everyone thinks he is an environmentalist after some fashion, and yet our civilization as it exists requires those mountains of logs, and all of us are contentedly consuming. Meanwhile we dump metric tons of carbon into the air every few seconds, and the worlds pristine areas are disappearing in a geologic nanosecond. Idiot politicians and the rabid radio rabble pride themselves on denying global warming (I believe Dante would place them in the hottest ring of Hell)...meanwhile we lead our lives of quiet desperation. Or perhaps I should say denial?
Beam me up, Scotty!