Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Leaving Northwest Ohio

My last week here in this flat, flat part of the world. There are many things I will not miss. The decided lack of proper pizza or, for that matter, much of anything in the way of edible cuisine. A surprising scarcity of good, fresh produce. A certain degree of cultural isolation.

I will however, miss this: the fact that, any time I wanted to, I could hop on my bike and ride out the long, flat, straight trail into the silence and emptiness of the corn, soy and wheat fields that stretch out here like the Bonneville flats rendered in grain. A landscape that seemed, at first glace, the very picture of natural bounty, only revealing itself as an artifact, as an engineered landscape, upon deeper inspection. For a cyborg romantic like me, there was something beautiful and captivating about the arrow-straight rows of crops, mechanically perfect in their geometry, flickering by as I rode past them like the spokes of a spinning wheel.

The corn flats of Ohio are, perhaps, the apotheosis of our industrial culture at the dawn of the 21st century: monotonous, isolating, hungry for diesel, and incapable of producing anything could sustain a human being without massive industrial intervention. Nonetheless, they are possessed of their own stark beauty. I will remember that.

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