Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Plugging In

With the power station, caravans and wind farms on our doorstep, and the university, nuclear submarine trackers and Blackpool visible in the distance I'm reminded of modern life daily. And while many of these sights might not be considered attractions their presence makes the beauty of the estuary more realistic and therefore deeper somehow than it would be without them, than it probably is in most visitors' photographs, which, I imagine, in the main focus on the Victorian lighthouse or the Bay itself, the sands, or Bowland fells. This draw to natural beauty is deeply ingrained. Why else would we call completely unnatural environments 'Bluewater' (shopping), 'Freshwater' (property), or 'Westfield' (more shopping)?

The man-made sights act as bearings. Where I stand as I spin round to clock them all is where they intersect. I am fixed by them. In some way they have made me. They distinguish me from the two women lighthouse keepers who lived here before me. And as much as I like to align myself with the 'natural' elements of the world, and do find a strength and vitalisation from it, I am as much 'artifice' or man-made as I am animal.

Maybe that's too flippant. It would be impossible to measure the parts that make me in percentages, and to declare myself equally spread between them, and perhaps it is too dismissive of the deep inherited memory of ancestors that makes up my instincts. Even so, I'm glad to be shaken from my tendency for Romanticism, and be forced to stare at what one friend called the giant battery of Heysham every day. After all, I also enjoy being able to plug in.



Lorna said...

I find it very tempting to imagine away the housing estate I live on, built during the Central New Towns project in the 1970's and go back to the older landscape I find on the maps, reimagining the fields and orchards, the blacksmith, farm houses, malt house and brewery, the old well and the mill, a landscape that seems to have so much more character. Even Heysham and certain malls whilst man made have character. How to relate to the seemingly faceless rows of suburban sprawl without picking out the remaining land marks and romanticising them?

Sarah Hymas said...

yes, Lorna, I think it very hard not to romanticise the older landmarks, but I also think it symptomatic of how far removed we are from our essential selves and how uneasy we are about this - seeking the other...