Sunday, November 30, 2008
The first thing I notice—even before I’m down the sealed roads, onto the highway, into the embrace of settlement—is the rainfall of insects on my windscreen beginning to ease. Engine noise and grinding gravel slowly replaces it, while outside a potted history of civilisation begins. The clay and the minerals rise up, with some encouragement, from the ground. The outside goes from the wet to the dry and back again more times than I can count, and spot fires herald a new form of steam. As my car keeps going straight, down the white-marked timeline, farms and fields move gradually through the Industrial Revolution; strange metal creatures begin to eye off cattle from beneath the warming sun, the landscape changes into blocks and the windmills of a kilometre ago have grown sturdy chests and piston legs that hum electricity’s tune. Then the flat sell of billboards, displaying better versions of the afternoon sky, brands to recognise and desire appearing as reminders of things we should have, or have already lost. Then I’m in the fringes—the outskirts—with the real products on display; the car dealerships and tile warehouses crowding together like a crammed mouth. Through it then, down the tar-sealed throat, towards the ripening high-rise lights beginning to trace shapes in the air. I’m in the bloodstream now, working my way towards the heart, rolling in with the fresh dust of history, to clog a city’s arteries.