After Man

With so much dire news, especially since the turn of the century/millennium it seems, apocalypticism is all the rage as people ponder and worry about the future, a hint of apprehension present every time we look at the headlines. The topic is a hot one in literary quarters as well and I wonder if it is a sign of a growing distress at our increasing removal from the natural.

Said Jeremy Rifkin in the Washington Post article, The Risks of Too Much City (December 17, 2006):

“The flip side of urbanization is what we are leaving behind on our way to a world of hundred-story office buildings, high-rise residences and landscapes of glass, cement, artificial light and electronic interconnectivity. It’s no accident that as we celebrate the urbanization of the world, we are quickly approaching another historic watershed: the disappearance of the wild. Rising population; growing consumption of food, water and building materials; expanding road and rail transport; and urban sprawl continue to encroach on the remaining wild, pushing it to extinction.”

Perhaps the prospect of such an eventuality is disturbing our “collective unconscious” and we long for a return to a simpler, less stress-filled life? Maybe the ‘huddled masses are yearning to breathe free’.

Documentaries, too, like Life After People and Aftermath: Population Zero and the book The World Without Us are exploring the question of what earth would be like post-people.

It was thoughts like these that went through my head as the kid and I recently explored an abandoned mercury mine in San Luis Obispo County. The silence, the imagined echoes of old where now only figurative tumbleweeds blow by, and even the graffiti is aged and pocked by bullets made me wonder if the whole world might one day resemble the hulking ugliness of the place until, cities crumbling, the globe is slowly overtaken by vines and deer. A planet finally stilled of the chaos. An earth finally at peace.

Or perhaps I just have an over active imagination 😉

Here are a few pictures from our walk around the Rinconada mercury mine. (Note: we didn’t actually descend into the mine itself, nor do we intend to for obvious reasons). Anyway, a few pictures. Click to enlarge.


2 thoughts on “After Man

  1. Went there once. Or maybe twice. A quiet breeze now, a rustle of leaves, the occasional cry of a red-tail floating high above where long ago the desperate frenzy of activity in man’s search to get rich. Now discarded. Now only peace.


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