Thursday, October 9, 2008

Day 111: More fiction than reality can contain

my first bomb drawing, done today from the NTS tour bus while overlooking Frenchman Flat

Today's experience was simply more than can be relayed at this point in time. It was a difficult day. Yet, I feel certain that some kind of creative response to the tour, and all that going there raises (and asks of a human body/mind/spirit), will unfold eventually. I am going to take the next couple days to find better words than I have tonight... It is simply too soon to process it all. I will say that it was beyond any reality that I might have imagined. And that today, while standing at the edge of Sedan Crater, the largest human-made pit in the world (which also poisoned 13 million people with its fallout) I recalled the wise words of William L. Fox, moderator of last weekend's conference.

"Sedan is the only feature at the Site that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Personally, I wish they'd declare the entire Nevada Test Site as historically significant and bring schoolchildren through here on monitored tours. Seeing the sites of the Civil War is important, but this might have a bit more immediate relevance. In fact, the viewpoint reminds me of nothing so much as the carefully selected points of interest provided by the National Park Service at other scenic climaxes, including that greatest tourist hold of all, the Grand Canyon.

Richard Misrach (1949-), perhaps the most-noted contemporary photographer of the American desert, once photographed a series at the illegal Bravo 20 bombing range in north-central Nevada, then proposed that the area be turned into a national park to commemorate the war waged by the American military on the lands of the West. Richard knew it was political polemic more than idea that would ever be implemented, but he was serious about it, and it's a notion that has applicability here. If people are so entranced be the military sublime that they want to see explosions and their aftermath, nuclear or not, then we should turn the place into a park and charge admission. The NTS could use the money, and educating Las Vegas tourists about the invention of the largest gamble in the history of mankind- that we can survive our ability to destroy all life on the planet- could be a compelling story in the hands of the public-relations office."
from Playa Works, William L. Fox, p 63-5

I completely agree, it is important that people go to this place.

Also, a couple days ago (Day 106) Wyatt asked me if I thought Michael Light's 100 Suns exhibition would have been received differently in New York than in Nevada. I replied that I thought it might be treated more historically in New York, that there seems to be more of a sense of living history (of America's nuclear endeavors) in the West. Then today, I found out that the Metropolitan Opera in New York is currently hosting a production called Doctor Atomic, about Robert J. Oppenheimer, and has several extremely interesting events in conjunction. It would be interesting to hear if the topic is treated in a way that is historic or acknowledges how this history continues to shape our present. I won't be able to attend many of the events since I am still going to be in transit, but do have tickets to the opera when I return and I will make sure to post about it.

No comments: