The whole idea of progress

At this moment in time, I am missing the City as Memory discussion. I should have been there, but life is just too hard, too busy, too full. I didn’t make it. Cheryl Bernstein is quoting snippets like this:

Di Lucas is talking about the natural world that lies under the city, invisible yet insistent. Manchester Street dropped almost a metre over the course of an original stream. Under the ruined conference centre lies an underground forest of totara tree stumps.

It is all too easy to lay down some concrete and nullify what lies beneath, entomb and condemn it like North American 17-year cicadas. It is all too easy to drain swamps and build subdivisions. It is all too easy to think in terms of surfaces. But the land returns to its natural state, in a matter of time.

My father grew up in post war New Zealand. A land where you work hard, you conform, you get rewarded. You improve the land and you deny the state of things. That was his reality and he lived it all his life. He never realised I didn’t live in that world. And now here we are, questioning the whole idea of progress. And I wonder what he would make of the new city, the city of empty spaces. And I wonder if he would think this was progress, and I wonder if it would cause him to question everything he believed. And I know I am glad he didn’t have to see his city destroyed, because I know that it wouldn’t change the way he saw the world: it would simply sadden him.

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