Whatever space we leave

“And if you walk past the construction barriers, you find the remains of a path made by men, right by a thick bush bearing big scarlet berries. Maybe that’s from the Ruhr, too.

“If you follow the path, you find two small drifter camps, both evidently abandoned. Shelters made from found materials, including industrial tarps used as lean-tos. Not unlike the hawks, in a way. Except that the hawks don’t leave all those empties behind. 

“I was reminded of this time last year, when I volunteered for the local homeless count, and at daybreak we checked out another traffic island across the river by the branch library, and found an entire village of such abandoned shelters, some of which looked to have been there for years. We also found little shanty towns packed in under the little bridges behind the strip mall, on one of the busiest streets in town, many of the occupants teenage kids. When you participate in a project like that, you leave with a certainty that the count grossly underestimates the real number of people living outside, hiding just outside your view, sometimes in the same places the wildlife hides. And, at least if you are the sort who writes dystopian novels you get the sense that you are seeing one of those unevenly distributed futures, where the rights of ways and empty lots become involuntary refugee camps for those displaced by our slow collapse.

“Maybe it’s this weird zone I live in, but over the last decade I’ve been noticing how the things one sees in post-apocalyptic cinema and the things one sees roaming the contemporary American landscape have started to look so much the same. The only difference is that, in real life, nature seems much more ready to retake whatever space we leave…”

Text: Christopher Brown, The Vultures of SXSW, Field Notes.

Image: Marton Antal, Post apocalyptic landscape in Adventuretime style.