No Accounting for Taste

I’ve always had an attraction to desolate landscapes.  Maybe it was growing up where I did, or maybe it has something more to do with the land of psychoanalysts, but whatever it’s been, it’s never been dark or brooding.  I’ve always simply enjoyed seeing the world laid bare- the fancy trappings of flora, fauna, and man not simply striped away, but never having been there.

One thing you learn about these places is that their desolation is unique to them.  Some, like Iceland, bring thoughts of ancient myth- of heroes hurling their rage at the injustices of The Gods.  Others, like The Great Sand Sea, are inhumanly regal- the points of the dunes like those of an endless golden crown.  Then, you have places like the salt flats of Turkey, whose tawdry desolation feels like nothing more than that of a family evicted from their home while you turn your head and hurry on.

Rejection.  This must have been the thought of those countless mariners wrecked upon this desolate coast- The Skeleton Coast.  There have been many names for it, but they all mean the same- better to have been drowned at sea than be shipwrecked here.  I can imagine those men, praying to their gods for deliverance.  Praying to survive the storm and make landfall, only to awake to this place of nothingness.  To know that you had not been saved, but have been rejected even more completely by your god, for what other reason would he have to leave you here?

Riding up the coast the skeletons of the various shipwrecks loom large…

And small

But the land doesn’t care.  It changes- from warm red-orange sand,

to dead gray dust, but it never has life.

There is no fresh water, no animals- nothing, but thousands of kilometers of desolation.  Even when we intentionally try to lay claim to the land, we are rejected.

The one thing it does provide, is plenty of photographic fodder for the next angsty-hardworking-man-being-left-behind album cover.


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