Our post on tunnel-digging yesterday reminded us of an earlier one about Indian stepwells, wherein we imagined a robotized version going in search of aquifers — stretching, self-replicating, branching out in ever increasing spatial incoherence.
And then we imagined future landscape architects spelunking through this subterranean labyrinth, something that's a cross between a karst terrain and an M.C. Escher print. Presented with the dark and the unknown, each one of our adventurers wonders how much they want to explore. They ask of themselves:
How deeply am I willing to go into the wilderness?
As a landscape design problem, it is truly worth contemplating.
How can we access the wild?
How much of it can we handle?
How deeply do we allow the tyrannical claws of the A.D.A. and other institutional regulations to extend into the wilderness?
At which point do we allow for the loss of control, from which one may begin to experience moments of unexpected wonder, terror, even compound multiple fractures?
Where is the limit of designed access?
How much longer can we allow tourists have access to Yellowstone National Park knowing that underneath the expertly designed tourist infrastructure lies a supervolcano long overdue for a cataclysmic eruption?
How deeply are we willing to allow urbanization creep into the wilderness before wildfires, floods, avalanches, animal attacks, earthquakes, mud volcanos, and dormant super Ebola-HIV hybrids push back with catastrophic results?
How much urban density can we allow over tectonic faults, in the shadow of a volcano, besides an overzealous river meander, on the paths of hurricanes, tornados and tsunamis?
How much can you handle seeing the government spend billions of dollars in shoreline fortifications and in subsidized insurance policies to protect oceanfront mansions, summer cottages, and exclusive and discriminatory golf courses — mostly benefiting the few and the rich, and which in an era of rising sea levels are downright idiotic — before you and all the other taxpayers without beach properties, i.e., the vast majority of the population, erupt into a rampaging murderous mob?
How much are we willing to allow for the genetic manipulation of the wilderness?
And how much of that are we willing to introduce back into the landscape?
How much wilderness are we willing to allow into the wilderness of our own design?