Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Visits Downrigging Weekend

Photo courtesy of "Behold the Earth"
This past weekend some of us were priveledged to hear David Conover and Tim Eriksen present at the Prince Theater. Conover spoke of the intersection between society and nature that he explores in his forthcoming documentary "Behold the Earth." In this film Conover uses breathtaking scenery, haunting folk melodies, and poignant interviews to explore America's divorce from nature. While sitting in my house this morning watching the trees groan in the winds of Hurricane Sandy, I couldn't help but hear the soulful notes of Eriksen's song "Every Sound Below" and consider the power of this storm.
Rain lashing, candles sputtering, birds calling, the street cleaner slowly driving by. These were the sounds reaching through my "cocoon." Conover described Americans as a people who travel between a series of cocoons, forgetting to spend time outside of our meticulously managed environments. Today, Sandy is forcing the people on the east coast out of their cocoons.
Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy

Since agriculture became the modus operandi for humankind we have slowly moved to create more distance between ourselves and our surroundings. This process was much enhanced by the dawn of the technological era. Humans now have so much power over their environment that some suggest we have entered an "anthropocene," or geological period defined by human action disrupting the surface of the Earth. Socially this technology has moved children away from the outdoors and in front of screens. Conover noted that in the last decade children have spent an average of over 7 hours a day in front of a screen.
Photo courtesy of "Behold the Earth"

Conover does not seek to provide a particular answer to this problem, rather he is making an attempt to understand why our divorce from nature started and exactly what that divorce looks like. The fierce embrace of Hurricane Sandy brings this question right into our homes, through leaky windows, flooded basements, and loss of power: electrical and otherwise.

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