[Image: The Milky Way reflected in the dish of a derelict telescope, left unused and eroding in Chile’s high Atacama Desert. Perhaps this is what night will look like in 10,000 years, after bird flu and nuclear terrorism, war and water shortages, have reduced humans to a few breeding pairs in the Arctic: a landscape of ruined pavilions once dedicated to space – Ballard’s “deserted planetarium among the dunes” – beautifully lit by nothing but stars].
8 thoughts on “Planetarium Among the Dunes”
the futility of technology: this piece quite poetic in a gloomy, existential sort of way…
I’ve been there! It’s a beautiful place at night.
And now I’m an architecture student (actually, one of at least two from that group who ended up in architecture)
Theo – If you like astronomy and architecture you should check out this post. Would be interesting to see what you think of it…
And John, gloomy but also exciting, I’d think; just imagining that future of ruins, unworkable machines, abandoned planetaria… Undersea earthquakes off the shores of new continents.
I’m glad to hear you describe exitement about the ‘unworkable machines’ of a post-apocalytic world. I always feel somewhat guilty for reveling in descriptions of our future planet desolate and abandoned. There is a gorgeous description of broken and overgrown farm machinery at the beginning of Faulkner’s ‘Light in August’, and I remember bringing it up in a lit. class as a vision of the wonderful aesthetics of decay: an example of how sometimes only when our once-utilitarian objects have fallen into abeyance can we appreciate their beauty. Blank stares all round.
Then you’re in the right place, Lapsarian – in fact, I’ll try to find some other posts you might like…
There’s this one about cities fossilizing over geologic spans of time. There’s this one about an abandoned island off the coast of Japan. There’s… this one about a neo-tropical, flooded London of collapsed hotels, overrun by iguanas. Of course, there’s the earth in 7.5 billion years… Etc.
My point is simply that I like ruins. Quite a lot in fact.
Thanks for those suggestions. I checked out a lot of your site on the way, but those (and the ‘where cathedrals go to die’ post) were among my favourites. Between those and your link to Basinski’s Disintigration Loops, I definitely feel your strong attraction to ruins and the process of becoming such. On a slightly unrelated note, have you read ‘House of Leaves’? Seems the sort of book you might enjoy: filled with mutating cavernous architecture and manifold strata of narrative. Regardless, thanks for the wonderful blog, you certainly have found another regular reader.
“landscape of ruined pavilions once dedicated to space”
This post reminds me of an episode in David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’, in which the central characters explore the abandoned space observatory on a Hawaiian mountain. This part of the story is set in the future and the characters believe this strange place is the home of the gods
I haven’t read Cloud Atlas yet, but thanks for the scene-linking there. Interesting.