Sunday, 16 July 2017

Nature Reclaims II

See River Bend Road and Nature Reclaims.

On the one hand, I like to watch nature gradually reclaiming a wall or a building but, on the other hand, in a rational society, that would not happen. Every empty or abandoned building would be put to use. For example, no one should ever be homeless. But what will happen when all human society ends?

"Nature was winning with its infinite patience..."
-SM Stirling, The High King Of Montival (New York, 2011), Chapter Twelve, p. 235.

"...a mantle of green that must have started as tree-lined streets and gardens and now was a burgeoning forest..." (op. cit., p. 240)

There are oak, maple, fir, spruce, locust and apartment towers half overgrown with ivy. Rudi Mackenzie sees and hears birds and imagines deer, boar, rabbit, fox, badger and raccoon.

"Here you could see how root and branch and leaf and burrowing beast were slowly reclaiming the land, and it gave you a detachment where the lifetimes of men waxed and vanished like morning light on the leaves."  (ibid.)

This is almost poetry.

In Chapter Thirteen, the suburbs are "...mostly forest..." (p. 245). Stirling goes further and says that farmland has become forest of a transitional type because never before were so many prime acres abandoned overnight. Waves of saplings have spread from lines of trees by roads or boundaries. Please read this passage because I cannot possibly summarize the whole account.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    And you can VISIT a modern city falling into ruin if you go to Detroit in the US. From a high of about two millions in 1960, the population has plummeted to less than a million now. Which means large parts of Detroit has been abandoned.

    And this disaster was SELF inflicted, not a result of barbarians sacking Detroit! Bad ideas and bad policies are what destroyed the city.


    1. Kaor, Sean!

      You're quite right about Detroit; I was in the area a couple of years ago, attending a Georgist conference in Southfield. There have been various kinds of misconduct and gross incompetence taking Detroit from industrial prosperity to its current condition, and I would like to point out that very bad tax policy was among the ills. When the auto industry was getting started, taxes in Detroit were largely on property, which meant at least in part on land. No one reacted by rolling up his acreage and carrying to a city with lower taxes. As the twentieth century rolled along, both Democrats and Republicans inflicted a series of tax reforms on Michigan: for example, they raised taxes on corporations to finance tax relief for homeowners (and land speculators); after all, GM, Ford, and Chrysler could afford to pay.

      At the time, they could afford to pay, but taxes on business meant that when the Detroit auto industry declined, few new businesses sprang up to hire unemployed workers and help the local economy flourish. Also, there was Governor Engler's tax reform to finance schools by taxing income instead of property, with similar effects. Michigan became a poor place to start a business or earn much income, but if you want to buy a vacant lot in Detroit, and hold it in the hope that someday the land will be valuable again, perhaps after a major federal bailout, it won't cost you much to keep the lot vacant.

      And then, of course, there's crime, lousy schools, the incompetence of the municipal government, the waste of money on subsidizing edifices that are supposed to revitalize the city, but, time and again, have not done so, etc., etc.

      Best Regards,
      Nicholas D. Rosen

    2. Kaor, Nicholas!

      I absolutely agree! You have listed many of the bad ideas and policies which have wrecked Detroit. And real estate is FIXED property, you can't just pack it up and start over in a more friendly city. So land ends up being simply abandoned.

      And I have some GRUESOME pictures of abandoned areas of Detroit, blocks after blocks of abandoned, empty commercial and residential buildings. It might as well have been one of the cities destroyed by the Change in Stirling's Emberverse books!


  2. Paul:
    There's a manga I'm fond of, *Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō* by Hitoshi Ashinano, set in a Japan in which SOMETHING that happened years ago has resulted in slowly but steadily rising sea levels — a number of cities are already submerged — and the human population quietly, peacefully, entering humanity's twilight, "the Age of the Calm Evening." (Technology has NOT been lost, but many people have nonetheless gone back to simpler ways of living.)

    One chapter shows a character who works in Tokyo's suburb Musashino strolling out of town to have lunch with a friend atop an abandoned building.

    "Just a little way off the great Kousho road, I'm surrounded by undergrowth. If I didn't live around here, I could never find my way through these fields. An ocean of grass. This was covered in houses back when Musashino was the capital. It's hard to believe."

    She's then seen working her way through grass so tall that scarcely more than the top of her head is visible.

    "The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that this was some _killer_ weed."

    1. Kaor, DAVID!

      First, it was amusing, comparing the magic swrd EXCALIBUR, to some kind of killer WEED! Are we also supposed to think of Excalibur also being marijuana ("weed" being a slang term for that drug).

      As for what happened to Japan in that manga, I sure hope it does not happen like that! Esp. the part about slowly declining and dwindling despite NOT having lost high technology. It reminded me too much of humanity dwindling and voluntarily dying out in GENESIS, despite having even higher technology available to them.


    2. Sean, "killer weed" in the sense of potent marijuana is EXACTLY what I was referring to in that paraphrase of a line from *Monty Python and the Holy Grail*. In other words, if you THINK you see the Lady of the Lake presenting Excalibur to you, it means you're high as a kite, stoned out of your skull, etc.

    3. Kaor, DAVID!

      You mean it's actually the case that marijuana smokers, "stoned out of their skulls," SEE things that are not THERE?


    4. Sean:
      I have no firsthand experience of what pot users see or don't see — those few I've been around weren't coherent enough to let me know if they were seeing anything unusual — but I figure that's probably correct.

    5. Kaor, DAVID!

      Understood. All this makes me wonder if New Agey religious types use marijuana in their "rites" to obtain "visions."