pessimism

“Critics have often mistaken a depiction of the world for a choice about our future, as if philosophers had rejoiced at the decline or decay that they described. But this is like deriding scientists who warn of global warming because their models give apocalyptic predictions. . . . this assumption says more about the critics than about their targets. Who is it, exactly, that cannot bear a story unless guaranteed a happy ending?”

—Joshua Foa Dienstag, Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit

Why are we afraid to make our clients sad? (It’s because we are also afraid to be sad ourselves.)

a class of objects within which violent events of unknown nature occur from time to time

“When one hears about another person’s physical pain, the events happening within the interior of that person’s body may seem to have the remote character of some deep subterranean fact, belonging to an invisible geography that, however portentous, has no reality because it has not yet manifested itself on the visible surface of the earth.

Or alternatively, it may seem as distant as the interstellar events referred to by scientists who speak to us mysteriously of not yet detectable intergalactic screams or of ‘very distant Seyfert galaxies, a class of objects within which violent events of unknown nature occur from time to time.’”

—Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain

Pain cuts in both directions for landscape architects. We are tasked with masking the scars of violence done to the land itself (masking violence is the project of the Picturesque); but we are also uniquely capable of (and responsible for) shaping the land in such a way as to draw out hidden pain (ecological, historical), making it legible to others. The second task is far more important, but we are much better at the first.