AT on... Human Nature and the Suburbs

AT on... Human Nature and the Suburbs

Jonathan B.
Apr 1, 2008

Is it our nature to destroy what we love?

The former editor of Sunset worked for years to get people to visit the then underpopulated West, "confident that one out of every ten visitors would return as a resident.  'We didn't know then,' he explained, 'that man destroys what he's after by his coming."

— Walter Doty

as quoted in an oral history cited in Magic Lands, by John Findlay

Magic Lands is an academic but readable tract on the history of the West. Findlay terms those places with mythic appeal -- such as Sun City, Arizona, or Disneyland -- "magic lands." They are islands of ideal order in a chaotic, ever-expanding urban sea. We're wondering if our homes are, in some way, magic lands of their own: places where, like Disneyland, everything is controllable, knowable, and therefore safe.

That's not to say it's pretend, or fake, or less worthy of consideration: Findlay makes the point that these magic lands are very much real places. So, on a day dedicated to the punking of reality, we're thinking about the magic inside our very own green home.

image by 001099 via

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