The description of this place does not sound like it could be a real place. The book starts out describing how people were seeking to tame the Meadowlands at first. It seems once they figured out how to do it they made no attempt to manage it. We’ve seen through history books that the creation of cities is followed by the creation of huge amounts of waste. Now, after generations of both residential and industrial waste have completely trashed the area, the description of the Meadowlands reads like a dystopian novel. In the chapter titled “Digging”, there are descriptions that I’m fairly confident could be matched almost exactly to tales of life after world destruction. The book quotes the landfill tour guide, Abels, saying, “‘When it was burning, this was Dante’s Inferno out here … There were flames everywhere and it was like Yellowstone with geysers of steam and smoke. I think you can name any chemical and it was here'” (151). Described in this book is a place that literally issues fire and poisonous gas. On top of it, it became a haven for any man who needed to make a dead body disappear. If it isn’t awful enough that a place was forced to this state, at least we can all agree it’s pretty bad to have specific body-dumping grounds available to any person on the street. The use of colors in this book is very effective. The water is described as being greenish-brown, and Sullivan speaks of the red lichen that resembles blood in the muck where numerous bodies have been sucked under. This area is clearly no longer a wilderness. It has been conquered and subsequently destroyed by humans.
It was spooky to read this novel and follow it up with the reading from Cronon. He talks in the beginning of the article about feeling that areas of wilderness are simply that because humans have allowed them to take place. Continuing with this idea, that would mean there are no places left in the world that are wild because our machines could not defeat them. It is terrifying to see what has happened with the mismanagement of the Meadowlands, and I know our society’s dependence on oil and other natural resources is driving people to do the same to other areas of land. If wilderness only exists because we let it, that means eventually when we have destroyed all other tracts of land, we will move on to the wild areas. We have already seen this begin to happen with the push to drill in Alaska. Land is only wild because we let it be that way, so the survival of the magnificent natural wonders is dependent on the decisions of current and future generations. Frankly, nothing makes me lose hope for the environment faster than this.
If you had one, would you dump a body in the Meadowlands?
How far are we actually from a dystopian identity?
What would be some solutions to prevent greed for land becoming so large that we destroy our last areas of wilderness?
What is the new definition of wilderness?
Are areas like the Meadowlands salvageable?