Monday, October 17, 2011

Waking up with Will Self

Will Self's ten minute programme on Sunday morning, 'In Praise of Wind Turbines' was a fine thing to wake up to, even though I did have to listen again to properly absorb his argument rather than just floating to consciousness for the stinging metaphors and gobbets of wit. In his usual acerbic style, he questioned the attitudes of those who consider wind turbines ugly and unnatural, pointing out that landscape is a human-made construction in this country anyway. For him, objectors are merely living in a rural idyll - or rather, his point is that they're not living in it, just observing what they interpret as pristine landscape from urban homes. And as he pointed out, most people will be driving past wind farms on roads, which are at least equally as intrusive in the landscape, but with an existence on the whole unquestioned. People are generally unprepared to face up to the infrastructures that current lifestyles demand

With the super-sized pylons currently being erected on my doorstep and a massive wind farm growing on the hill above me, I've been watching, assessing, contemplating my own attitudes to these industrial objects gathering on the hilltops and in valleys. I certainly agree with him that there is no measure of objective 'beauty' or 'ugliness' that can be applied. People I know seem equally divided, and equally amazed when they hear a contradictory aesthetic judgement on the spin of white blades.

My recent walk over the Corrieyarack Pass (see two posts ago) raised my awareness of pylons. I sometimes think we've grown so accustomed to them, they can seem invisible. But all is to change apparently. The Guardian reported at the weekend on a pylon design competition which has been won by a Danish company with a pylon in a T-shape, somewhat resembling a small wind turbine. Apparently '...the T-Pylon – or something close to the competition entry – will soon enough be stepping politely across the hills, dales, sunlit uplands and rain-drenched lowlands of Britain'. I suddenly, perhaps ridiculously, feel a little protective of 'our' familiar girder-ish, humanoid, striding pylons (as, apparently do the 'Pylon Appreciation Society'!). By being less intrusive, and more polite, they will suddenly be very visible... So perhaps I am (are we?) just conservative, change-averse.