Et in Arcadia ego
Simon Norfolk's thesis is straightforward: landscape is a function of war.
In parts of London, for instance, “the Roman stones are still buried beneath the modern tarmac. Crucially, it needs to be understood that the road system built by the Romans was their highest military technology, their equivalent of the stealth bomber or the Apache helicopter - a technology that allowed a huge empire to be maintained by a relatively small army that could move quickly and safely along these paved, all-weather roads. It is extraordinary that London, a city that ought to be shaped by Tudor kings, the British Empire, Victorian engineers and modern international Finance, is a city fundamentally drawn, even to this day, by abandoned Roman military hardware.”
So not by island-making tectonics, alluvial scouring, gravitational erosion, photosynthesis, or even supernatural wizardry.
It's no surprise then that Simon Norfolk went on an enviable trip to Ascension in the South Atlantic.
Where it seems that the paradisical-sounding island is not simply an occasional lithic extension of the Earth but a gigantic surveillance machine: a weaponized island. Hardwared and networked into the global ECHELON infrastructure to eavesdrop on each and every communication of each and every person on the planet. What is spoken in the caves of Afghanistan is readily picked up in Ascension.
Certainly for some, a manufactured Fantasy Island.
I'm certainly left to wonder: which came first — the island or ECHELON?
Dugway Proving Ground: or, TerraServer, Part IV