Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#240 / Imperial

I am reading Imperial, a mammoth 1300-page book by William T. Vollman (pictured), who lives in Sacramento, California with his wife and daughter, and who was once suspected by the FBI of being the Unabomber.

Imperial is not an "easy" read. But worthwhile! Among other things, the book is all about water. And about land use and development. And about a lot of other things, including the "imperial" behaviors of the people of these United States, and their government.

On page 124, Vollman cites to Mr. E.J. Swayne, an early "booster" of what was then known as Imperial Country (not "County," the included "r" was no mistake). A 1901 newspaper article quoted Swayne under the following headline: "EJ. Swayne Talks of the Imperial Country and Its Wonderful Possibilities." Swayne's judgment?

It is simply needless to question the supply of water.

When we assume that our civilization-building activities can be based on a hypothetical "limitless" abundance of natural resources, we always guess wrong. 

The only thing that seems to be truly "limitless" is our human arrogance in thinking that what we do in "our" world does not ultimately depend on the World of Nature, over which we have no dominion.

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