Conjuring place

The bi-weekly topic at Ecotone Wiki is “Imaginary Places.” Go there.

All places are imaginary.* It’s how we imagine them that makes all the difference. Do we come in peace?

Do we come to conquer, to colonize, to pioneer, to inhabit, to celebrate, to lose ourselves, to find ourselves?

When we move, do we move as the Amish do, following careful investigation and in full consideration of the needs of the community that will move with us?

If we move in answer to the demands of job or family, do we look for places that remind us of the last place we lived? Do we seek a new version of the first place we ever knew, having perhaps imprinted upon it like a newly hatched chick upon its mother?

When we arrive, do we test and taste the air, the soil, the water? Do we come to a place with all our old dreams intact, convinced that if we can find our own quiet little corner, all our unhappiness and anxieties will melt away?

Are we passionate, casual, indifferent? Surely the places we inhabit will reflect the level of intensity we bring to them. Do we arrive in a new place like a suitor looking for his one true love, or like someone on a quest for the ultimate orgasm? When we fantasize about getting away from it all, do we picture a tent or a cabin in the midst of the perfect, airbrushed, Sierra Club calendar pin-up? Do we come like a hermit or a monastic community, looking for the right combination of sublimity and enchantment to lead our minds away from more worldly temptations?

Do we imagine the land as a stage for individual or divine action, as an environment, as an ambience? Do we pledge ourselves to the cherished wild only to domesticate it, like the stereotypical Southern woman marrying a rogue? Are we seeking a powerful or distinguished father- or mother-figure, or a charismatic teacher who will know just what to do with the confusion of desires that follow us around?

Do we seek a laboratory for scientific, spiritual or aesthetic experimentation? Do we seek symphony or silence? Natural complexity? A blank slate?

If we concede to places the right to elude human control, can we be comfortable with the uneasiness, the sense of permanent homelessness this might inspire? Can we preserve open spaces within our own hearts?

Can we become, as Aldo Leopold suggested we must, just plain citizens of the land community?

Can we imagine the land finally as its own person, imagining and inhabiting each of us in turn?

Do we dare?

*That is, spaces can be delimited and described at varying scales in a theoretically endless number of ways, within the limits of human observational skills, sign systems and/or trans-human revelations.

For related discussions, see Ten Thoughts About Possession, Learning language, learning poetry, and Holding forth (among others).

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