Is ‘urban exploration’ a bit ruin-pornish?
It can be pretty interesting and make for good content.
The individual travels alone or with small groups (usually with a camera), trespassing through city-scapes and abandoned buildings as though they were archeological ruins. Breaking the law or possibly breaking the law is part of the appeal.
Perhaps such folks are traveling as well through their own imaginations, romanticizing themselves as transgressive outsiders; inviting viewers on a mythic, imaginative quest, where some camaraderie, historical meaning and beauty are to be found.
It certainly comes with the risk and rewards newer platforms can offer.
Maybe they could just be figuring out how things work and how infrastructure is built, too. And where the margins are.
Naturally, one impulse expressed here is the desire for group membership and meaning. Like kids who’ve found something new and cool to do, some recognition is desired from others or from society at large, even if it’s tinged with the negative.
Along with many other genres (documentaries are a glaring example), I tend to believe that if a group gathers behind a cause (ideological/political) and seeks to confirm a pre-existing belief, this doesn’t necessarily mean everyone gets along, nor is persuaded, nor agrees on matters of deeper principle.
It can lead to fracture, art and politics mixing in unholy union, and a public square where moralizing abounds (Dear Reader, have you heard about ‘The Message‘).
Readers will know I tend to think some of this is a sign of a newer, more anarchic/nihilistic individualism manifesting within our culture. The failures of many older relationships and institutional arrangements have created a lot of space.
Welcome to it.
Don’t you want to live in Austin, or Boulder, or Portland, or Williamsburg, Brooklyn?
Don’t you want to live and compete with the best in an outward facing American city like San Francisco or New York, or maybe even an international city if you can manage it?
What about the downsides (political leadership/corruption/crime/high and low)?
Don’t you want to live in Salt Lake City, or some small town with a church and organized civic life? Don’t you just want order, relative peace, obligations and decency?
Are you still looking for America?
James Fallows at the Atlantic, former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, explored the wonders of post-hippie settlers in Vermont to stay relevant to a new generation of readers: Vermont Report: Shaping The Soul Of A School.
Good luck not getting the co-op co-opted by radicals. I also didn’t know schools had souls.
Tim Carney says towns and cities (both religious and not) with strong civic institutions voted in much smaller numbers for civic nationalism and Trumpian populism.
Until then, you can catch me at the next radical Quaker flower protest:
Related On This Site:What about the victims of crime, not all this romanticization of criminals?: Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’.
Two ways around postmodernism, nihilism?: One is Allan Bloom Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’… Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment…
Institutionalized Leftism in the Arts has a longer, deeper history in the U.S.: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’…Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?