I’ve always been drawn to decay. Human detritus, the brittle old leaves of progress.
Rusty tin with holes; weatherboards flapping in the wind; scars in the tarmac; a whole front porch just fallen down right there; weeds sprouting from the cracks in old buildings; saggy little wooden houses; abandoned boats; signs for things that don’t exist; bright paint cheerfully peeling; an empty tank at a crazy angle; windows boarded over with plywood, which itself is starting to rot and peel; “For Sale” signs overgown with forlorn weeds; houses ripped in two by a hurricane years ago, that no-one has got around to demolishing; the unrepeatable geometry of a collapsed barn; weed-filled greens and broken cart trails in a failed golf course; ruined old farm machines left in a yard.
Every one of them is a story. Someone thought this would be a good thing, useful, beautiful. They put work into it. People helped. Resources were gathered. Plans drawn up. Legalities settled. Patience was needed. Obstacles were overcome. Disappointments endured. Success was celebrated. The achievement was delighted in. Then it became mundane. Taken for granted. Boring. Things changed. Priorities shifted. Maintenance became a hassle. Other things demanded attention. Relationships broke, and were formed again. New dreams dreamt themselves. Neglect set in. Sun, wind, water, and gravity, however, neglect nothing.
Things tend to chaos. Structure is a frail and temporary state, bought with energy.
“Ideas” are idealized. They are perfect Platonic forms, all shiny. When we implement them, we strive to create a little bit of the world that mirrors that perfection. When I walk around an airport, I think of the resources that it has taken to create this much pristine geometry in real space. The more perfect it is, the more energy it takes. And the less real it is.
Imperfections are character. Like the lines in an old man’s face, or the bend in an old woman’s back. Every crack shows the irruption of nature. She will reclaim her own. In the face of all our human arrogance, thinking we can pave over every bump and smooth out every irregularity, she just waits.