Alexandra Park is a few miles from here in another part of Manchester. Two years ago there were large protests against a redevelopment plan which entailed felling some old trees. I felt immediate sympathy for the cause and made a video where I reflect on the issues, alluding to Shakespeare and his use of nature. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream nature, in the form of the woods, is a place of magic, love, and regeneration. The court is a place of scheming, power games, property, and rule. Alexandra Park is now much improved. It’s a delightful place where it was formerly overrun with tangled undergrowth. I changed my mind. I don’t think the tree loss was any great concern. I felt, at the time, the argument was to some extent symbolic and the protesters weren’t aware of their own motivations. They didn’t like being dictated to by Manchester Council which is a prevailing zeitgeist. We’ve all had enough of politicians, banksters, shysters, and the liars who have the power.

In Shakespeare, and I refer to this in my video, there’s a tension between city and nature. One is wild and uncontrolled and lives on its own terms. The other, today, is industrial, corporate, exploitative and, I suggest, built on lies. I can substantiate that with all manner of references: Jean Baudrillard, Neil Postman, Brave New World, 1984, Noam Chomsky, The Matrix. Princeton University Professor Harry G. Frankfurt says “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit” which is not a bad summary. We need more magic, love, truth and regeneration but there’s little sign of it. We need to take walks in nature, stroll beside a river, and dream.

 

Mersey Valley Couple

Wednesday January 7, 2015