Monday, February 11, 2008

Homesickness is misunderstood

This Wired article is really very good. From Talking Pictures; which I can't link to, alas, because it keeps crashing my rickety Mac. (There's a link to her from Querencia)

Here's an excerpt.

Australia is suffering through its worst dry spell in a millennium. The outback has turned into a dust bowl, crops are dying off at fantastic rates, cities are rationing water, coral reefs are dying, and the agricultural base is evaporating.
But what really intrigues Glenn Albrecht — a philosopher by training — is how his fellow Australians are reacting.

They're getting sad.

In interviews Albrecht conducted over the past few years, scores of Australians described their deep, wrenching sense of loss as they watch the landscape around them change. Familiar plants don't grow any more. Gardens won't take. Birds are gone. "They no longer feel like they know the place they've lived for decades," he says.

Albrecht believes that this is a new type of sadness. People are feeling displaced. They're suffering symptoms eerily similar to those of indigenous populations that are forcibly removed from their traditional homelands. But nobody is being relocated; they haven't moved anywhere. It's just that the familiar markers of their area, the physical and sensory signals that define home, are vanishing. Their environment is moving away from them, and they miss it terribly.


Matt Mullenix said...

Favorite Annie Dillard quote: "Things out of place are ill."

Henry Chappell said...

I'm not surprised at all. I suspect the Austrailians' sadness is similar to the sense of loss many of us feel when our homeland is changed by human activity or natural disaster. Many of my boyhood hunting spots are now under concrete. I barely recognize my small hometown in Kentucky. Main Street is virtually empty, "beaten in the market" by the chain stores on the outskirts of town. Sons and daughters of once-prosperous merchants and small farmers now scramble for jobs. These changes sadden me, but maybe I'm just wired that way. Evidently a lot of Aussies are too.