The Watershed and The City (sketch #1)

It cannot properly be said that the nation-state exists anywhere other than in the minds of human beings.  The same could be said of the province (States in the US, Provinces in Canada, the old administrative districts of Imperial Rome, et. al.).  From the mind of some imperialist, with a pen in hand, lines are drawn on a map.  This changes nothing of reality, until roads are built, forests felled and rivers dammed, languages are suppressed, and populations are extirpated or assimilated into  a new artificial society molded to serve the functions desired by some centralized “national” or “provincial” administration.  But the artifice of ideology does not convey any sense of inherent reality upon nation-state, province, county, district, or borough.

However, artifice thought it may be, the City itself can indeed be seen to actually exist.  From the smallest village to the greatest metropolis, this is one factor of the essential basis of human social reality the world over.  While a shift in ideology can erase a nation-state or province overnight, it would take a massive shift in tectonic plates to erase a city.  And then there would still be the rubble.

The other factor is of course the land-base upon which the city depends: the Country, the Hinterland, the Wilderness, or any other civilized abstraction of what, without exception the world over, is in reality a Watershed.  And watersheds are connected through the ecology of the oceans and the movement of living creatures; and they are separated by steep mountain ridges, softly rolling hills, or great continental divides.  No shift in ideology can erase a watershed (though ideologies have indeed run then dry) and even the greatest tectonic shifts have been moulded by great rivers into the watersheds that all terrestrial life inhabit. (Remember the great so-called Columbia river, the watershed I’ve spent my life in, is itself much older than the Cascade mountain range which it flows through.)

So when we strip away all projection of human desire and delusion, and though the later can be reduced to rubble, we are left for better or worse with this: The Watershed and The City.  Forest and field, highway and Latifundia; all else is contingent on this essential relationship.




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