Tonight, Wednesday 9th November, like many I don't feel like I understand anything.
So I reach back into my mind to a book I read many years ago by Jonathan Raban called "Bad Land."
The critically acclaimed book takes the rarely told story of the journey of European immigrants that were sold the enterprising idea of rich farming lands in the state of Montana. The story is of dreams, homesteaders, railroads, promises, false propaganda, drought, and desperation of people misled and abandoned.
Tonight as the world faces a new chapter, it is a book that sticks in my minds as strongly as images like Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother", Grant Wood's "American Gothic", "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper, or even more viscerally the iconic "Christina’s World" by Andrew Newell Wyeth.
I'm reaching for a horizontal but like for the people in Raban's "Bad Land" there is no horizon just a dizzying empty sky line.
As quoted in a Guardian article about his book set in Alaska, "Passage to Juneau", “Journeys,” says Raban, somewhere towards the end of Passage to Juneau, “hardly ever disclose their true meaning until after – and sometimes years after – they’re over.”
This journey is going to take a lot of time to understand. Turning to art is perhaps our best resource in times like these as Sigmund Frued said, “Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.”
In this case Jonathan Raban in 1997 told stories than we need to go back towards and revisit just as he did, in which case the Los Angeles Times prediction will be true when they said; "Championship prose. . . . In fifty years don't be surprised if Bad Land is a landmark."
I certainly think so.
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