steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Continuity in America

I’ve been reading around what people have had to say on the subject of Mammothfail. While I’ve not got any new perspective to add on Wrede's book, I was struck by this post by [info]rushthatspeaks. It reminded me very powerfully of something Susan Cooper wrote 20 years ago:

 “In America, it seems to me, the sense of man’s long relationship with the land can be found only in the Southwest, in the moonscape country of New Mexico and Arizona where Navajo and Zuni, Pueblo and Hopi respect their soil and hold their rocks sacred. Nowhere else is the time of mankind written so clearly upon the land. New England seems deeply historical to most Americans because men and women have lived there for three hundred years. But those were white men and women, and they threw away time, those first settlers, when they arrived in America and began systematically to destroy the way of life of their American Indian predecessors. Most of them came from Britain, and should have known better. In the previous two thousand years in Britain, during recurring invasions from the Continent, over and over again, in Jung’s phrase, the soul of the conquered people had entered that of the conquerors – through the relationship each had had with the land. In America, the American Indian soul didn’t have a chance. The white invaders didn’t follow the old pattern of killing the men, raping and breeding with the women, and following the old uses of the land. Instead, they killed the men and the women, and raped the land. Those of us who live in the United States see the rape still happening, every day. The Roman Englishman put his road from London to Bath, along valleys and around hills in a smooth sweep, using the old tracks but straightening them out when the land allowed, and eight hundred years later it’s still there as A40, a graceful piece of the landscape. The English American has carved out I-95 from Florida to Maine, chopping through any bit of land in his way, and he’s made a road which is a long ruthless slice, dedicated to the goal of vanishing place and time.
            “But that’s a suicidal goal. Continuity is the only thing that can reconcile our tiny lives to their large surroundings.” 

Cooper doesn't put things in quite the way I would, but I don't want to join the cavilry, and I can't help feeling that her basic point is sound. Unlike some of you, though, I've never lived in North America. So what do you think? Does this ring true at all for you?
Tags: maunderings
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