Trees, Forests, Artifice

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We have no doubt these golden creatures above are trees.

How about these strange creatures below?

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They are in a “nature park” in Singapore. These things have roots in the ground. They are called “Giant Trees.” But to me they are impostors, aliens, or tricksters. Here’s what they look like with the lights off:

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As you can see, they’re giant (note the tiny human figures on the walkways, ground level and bridge-level, up where the limbs begin to flare out).

And they’re manicured. Or more accurately, they’re human constructions, through and through. They’re woven by artifice rather than trimmed to reveal a natural shape. And what are those inner cones guiding the flaring?

Wikipedia tells us:

Gardens by the Bay is part of a strategy by the Singapore government to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden”. The stated aim is to raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city.

Wait! Let’s look closer at these “super trees” as high as skyscrapers: They’re metal mesh all the way up.  Nothing is alive.  And they’re electrified for glamor and padded with artificial moss to cover the faux-trunks at their base.

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It seems that the price of making a “City in a Garden” is to uproot our very sense of “garden,” “trees,” “greenery,” and “flora.”  There’s something topsy-turvy here.

Metal and florescent light are masquerading as life.

**  **

Here is a further example of “adding greenery” to the city.

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Note the spiraling walk way that, as in the pathway through the “tree” tops we show above, is hardly the sort of path that lets one be immersed in or lost among hedges in an English Garden or dwarfed by over-towering elms or THE GENERAL SHERMAN in Sequoia National Park.

Is an elevated bridge in any way still a path?

**

Thoreau famously wrote “In wildness is the preservation of the earth.”

These trees and attempts at greenery in Singapore seem to say,

In artifice is the apogee of human elevation!

This isn’t walking through nature.  But what is it? It must be something like

overseeing technological mastery.

**

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Luckily you can get some distance on the city.

These little guys are otters. They’re sensibly looking away from the glass enclosures, while we look at them looking — and then look across the waters to the curvy glass artifices that hold the “gardens” safe and sound.

And while we’re viewing, notice the platter  atop the flexed multi-story buildings in back of the garden-enclosures. It looks like a flat garden or park resting atop them. Worse than Topsy turvey.

There, you only get “nature” because giant buildings have conceded to lift it-and-you there, allowing a dash of green to adorn their caps, or like bruised mint at the crest of a tall glass of gin-and-tonic.

Thank god for the otters and swamp lilies.

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