What makes a ruin.

On Erik Loomis’ recommendation, I’m reading Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s fantastic book: The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins.  I haven’t gotten very far, but it has already provided me with this (pg 5-6):

…[T]here is one connection between economy and environment that seems important to introduce up front: the history of the human concentration of wealth through making both humans and nonhumans into resources for investment.   This history has inspired investors to imbue both people and things with alienation, that is, the ability to stand alone, as if the entanglements of living did not matter. Through alienation, people and things become mobile assets; they can be removed from their life worlds in distance-defying transport to be exchanged with other assets from other life worlds elsewhere. … The dream of alienation inspires landscape modification in which only one stand-alone asset matters; everything else becomes weeds or waste.  Here, attending to living-space entanglements seems inefficient, and perhaps archaic.  When its singular asset can no longer be produced, a place can be abandoned.  The timber has been cut; the oil has run out; the plantation soil no longer supports crops.  The search for assets resumes elsewhere.  Thus, simplification for alienation produces ruins, spaces of abandonment for asset production.

In other news, the California Almond Acreage Report came out yesterday.

California’s 2017 almond acreage is estimated at 1,330,000 acres, up 7 percent from the 2016 acreage of 1,240,000.

UPDATE 6/18/19: A spectacular illustration of the standardization and alienation of capitalism. These are factories, not living landscapes.  Life will return to them when agriculture abandons these lands.

UPDATE 6/24/19: These are outdoor factories. The Plantationocene.


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2 responses to “What makes a ruin.

  1. This ties in very well with what I heard last night from Henk Ovink [http://www.rebuildbydesign.org/about/our-team/henk-ovink-principal] about embracing complexity and being inclusive when working to address climate change. He was in Houston at a forum about “our post-Harvey urban future.” Thanks for sharing this. Book added to my list.

  2. Emily Green

    Nicely observed. Funnily enough as the e-mail alert to your post came I was reading an intriguing (if badly-headlined and captioned) first person account by a British farmer about what happened when she backed out of conventional management of a marginal cattle operation in southern England. The rapidly evolving landscape became a vibrant refuge for wildlife and judiciously reintroduced livestock have become prized by a leading chef. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5640191/How-letting-Mother-Nature-reclaim-prime-farmland-produced-breathtaking-results.html