Manufactured Landscapes

Several years ago I worked as a newsman/photographer for a twice weekly local newspaper called the Jefferson Times. As a writer it was my job to fill up the paper with items of local and regional interest. I also authored a column entitled “Just Common” which was a collection place for all those random thoughts and ideas that popped up between whatever else it was I did.

One aspect of the job I remember clearly was that I was always creating opening sentences in my head to describe the stories I was working on. My theory was (and still is) that if you have the lead sentence then the rest of the story will build itself around it.

Just the other day I found myself creating lead sentences for potential blog entries. I was thinking about a movie I just viewed called “Manufactured Landscapes” which I thought was a movie about photography when I placed it in my Netflix queue.

The documentary is about photographer Edward Burtynsky and records his travels around certain parts of the world observing changes in landscapes due to industrial work and manufacturing. In a nutshell, his photography shows how China’s economy has rapidly expanded in order to produce the products America and other countries think they need. To this end, massive cities have been built around this manufacturing ideal, which in turn employ millions of people who sit around all day and night building cell phones, Ipads, computer chips and the like.

In order to get the products delivered, large ocean going ships are built and container cities are formed where products are stored before being shipped out. And then, in an ironic twist, these ships, when they have served their purpose, are dumped on the shores of Bangladesh and like cities to be taken apart, piece by piece, by the unemployed locals of all ages. As you can imagine, taking apart freighters is not a Betty-Crocker-clean type of job. This type of work would not be allowed in the United States mainly because of the toxic substances found aboard these ships.

So, what I thought was going to be an artistic adventure, turned out to be a “Mother Jones” on steroids type of event. That is not to say that I might not watch it one more time before turning it in—I am sometimes a glutton for punishment.

In other news and in closing: another sentence that I was working on in my head revolved around a trip I took to Africa several years ago. One of the people I traveled with, an ex-marine and frequent visitor to Africa, had a great camera and encouraged me to use it to take pictures to chronicle our trip. He said that if I saw a picture, just say the word and he would stop in order to facilitate my fancy. Only as things turned out, he began to get more and more irritated every time I would mention a picture opportunity. When I called him on this his reply was, “Everything is a picture to you!”

And that my friends is really the way things are. There are endless possibilities in living everyday. However, I don’t think that being consumers is what life is all about. As I grow older I am beginning to see beyond the Matrix and into the nature of real life. As the economic storm continues it is our job to embrace change and position ourselves for what the Creator of the universe has in store not simply go about each day as business as usual.

As much as I mostly enjoy the life I find myself in this day, I know there is a lot more to understand and live out in the days to come.

Enjoy your ride!

This entry was posted in Describe Your Ride. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Manufactured Landscapes

  1. That’s an elegantly simple, informative lead-in:
    “Several years ago I worked as a newsman/photographer for a twice weekly local newspaper called the Jefferson Times.”
    …not quite as potent as “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
    But keep working on it. I like tracking along with your thoughts and recollections, which always are shown to be meaningful. Terry, you have lived–are living– a fascinating life–one that is adventurous, very full, and quite productive.
    Keep those stories and ruminations coming. I enjoy reading them, and am encouraged to think that so many others can participate vicariously in your unique, long ride.

  2. Terry Henry says:

    You make me laugh my friend. On second or third reading, you are right.

    It is the best of times.

    Somehow the blog bug has bitten me again. I can only hope to live up to your great reviews.


  3. ded says:

    I read and enjoy, as well. Though I don’t always comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.