I can make the landscape of the view of a US Coast Guard ship standing guard on the river. Its presence on the spot, underneath the great rusty bridge, can boost your feeling of belonging to a country. Humble women and men are watching over our safety and comfort in our homes. The bridge might seem fragile as it weathered for so long, it might express the temporality and frugality of human creations, but that ship and its crew are an image of determination, sense of duty and stubbornness.
For others, this can be only an image of a random boat navigating a river that carries to the great ocean the waste we indifferently dispose, or an image of a boat supported by the state, but on which a crew lacking any feeling stood on duty, waiting for the payday.
We all have different perspectives. We all differ from a moment in time to another, we are the sum of what we learned in the past and what we dream of the future. It’s in our power to make the landscape be great or dull. The power we have over our mind extends to the physical world, and we, as a collective, changed and manipulated the natural world to fulfill our views of it. We easily produced imagination into reality. The borderline between them is very thin.
From the most ancient times, our species fought the environment. That stubbornness that characterizes us put us on top of the pyramid in the world of the living ones. At the beginning, scared by the unexplainable power of a lighting to start a fire, the human humbly ran and hid for his safety, no other means in his hands. I can see the primitive man, shaking in fear, crouched in the depth of a cave, in a darkness he feared as well, but which he preferred in front of the powerful manifestation of the fire coming from the heaven. A pitiful being obscured by its own weakness, camouflaged in a hidden corner, too fearful to even observe. The fire that scared him helped him break the darkness at a later time. What led the same being to find the way out of anxieties to the powerful and unstoppable master of the earth is the imagination. Means developed in time turned into realities the abstract images, created by their minds, with both patience and resilience. Since they couldn’t explain the phenomena of the nature, they created the gods, powerful but only imaginable beings, living beyond the perceptible world but controlling this one through threats and punishment. Believing in those imaginary beings, the human found its way out of the darkness. When believing in gods and systems entirely created by their minds, the humans conquered the earth, taking absolute control over other species. The power of imagination led to the world we live in today, with all the power of manipulation in our hands. And still so easily we fall back in the darkness of fear by just another creation of our own minds. The frontier between dreams and reality melts away, and we are floating between what we dream and what we have.
Driving from home to work, and back on a highway a few years ago, I used to experience daily the thin layer between past and present, between what we found and what we created from what we found. Two belts of gravel, cement and asphalt were dividing a forest, an ancient one settled atop of a high ledge overlooking the Hudson River while passing between the nowadays Yonkers and New Jersey. In his ingenuity the man mingled together nature and civilization, the modern highway bordered by meadows and trees. By only moving my eyes at a very low angle, I could see the powerful automobiles fuming toxic gases on their exhausts and serene patches of apparently untouched nature. One day, following a column of vehicles with the sunset unfolding in front of us all, in the air steaming from a rain that just stopped a few seconds before, a deer and her fawn were grazing peacefully in between the lanes. The view was outstanding, so out of place, but still so familiar. I couldn’t stop. As the row of automobiles moved at the same speed, no disruption or variance were accepted. If the best camera and best photographer behind it would have been there, they could have shot a perfect wilderness capture. The two worlds, the artificial concrete one and the one made of air, water and dirt existed together for a second and somehow intermarried into some kind of fantasy. But it was real. I can confirm from the fact that I have successfully driven the distance at the unison with a thousand other drivers and reached into our fortress of ethereality and materiality.