Saturday, February 22, 2014

Riverside industry

Elements of the Dutch landscape - 10
Some things are so obvious that I cannot say anything meaningful about them. Of course there has always been industry along rivers:
  • Industries and cities have historically been located along rivers because the rivers provide transportation and have traditionally been a convenient place to discharge waste.
  • A brick yard would be constructed near natural sources of clay. 
  • When the industrial revolution took a hold, industry began to settle in the area, as the river offered great transport links.
  • The new machines were so large that they do not fit a home. Soon factories were placed in large halls. Machines were so big that they could no longer be operated by hand, they were powered by hydro power. A large water wheel ​​turned the machines. So the first factories were always placed besides a river or a stream. The Netherlands always had a favorable position for transportation. 
  • The Waal, Lek and the Rhine, were the best navigable rivers of Europe and offered (and still offer) an excellent connection between Dutch ports like Rotterdam and Amsterdam and the German hinterland. During the 17th and 18th centuries the coastal provinces acquired a network of towpaths and waterways. For a long time this network was the best transport system in Europe. It was relatively cheap and therefore available to many more people than the expensive carriage.
Is it possible to say anything non-obvious? Something that has never been said before?
Is it necessary to say anything?
The standard psychogeographic procedure is journalistic: we dig up some interesting historical facts and mix them with our own experience of the place. Some autobiography. Bonus points for added social or political critique.
IJssel river ferry - 1956
The classic text would start like this:
  • There are two rivers called IJssel in the Netherlands. The Hollandse IJssel is much more industrialized than the Gelderse IJssel. The old, broad river is more mysterious, magical and romantic.
But the only way to resist that, is to rant about the subject:
  • I fucking hate rivers. I've always hated them. Boring horizontal objects. Wet and cold. Inhabited by slimy fish and Lovecraftian frogs. Great views for prime property owned by rich farts who escaped from the city. Disgusting. Far from anything, not a coffee or a library to be found anywhere. Locals and farmers and youths on scooters. Boring factories surrounded by barbed wire, inaccessible industrial landscapes. It always rains here and a cold wind always blows over the flat landscape. Who cares about this landscape? No one, obviously, because everyone is somewhere else, where it is more interesting. I don't give a damn about birds or roadside flora, I can see the same plants destroying the asphalt of my driveway. And who cares about the history of rivers and canals? Yes, they were the highways of the 19th century and that makes them just as uninteresting as our own highways. Don't waste my time with rivers. Get lost with your psychogeography!
Now see ... that was not so hard to write :-)
Hollandse IJssel - Nieuwerkerk
And using some found texts from Google we can translate it into a readymade poem:
This fucking river is why I'm never mad anymore.
Decided to float the wagon across this fucking river.
This fucking river and this fucking forest, I think. I need to get home.
I can't wait to get off this fucking river. lt's hardly a river, is it?
This fucking river will never let me make a call.
There's no fish in this fucking river.
Am I gonna pass this fucking river?
He knows this fucking river well.
Hollandse IJssel - Nieuwerkerk
An using some found texts from Twitter yields this grim and misogynist poem. But at least it's not the standard psychogeography fare. And it's a contrast with the atmospheric river landscape. I could turn this into a performance and shout the text at the river, just like I did with Bob Ross:
Oh your boyfriend didn't send you a good morning text today?
Cry me a fucking river.
I hope woodstown destroys those fucking river rats.
Forgot how loud blackberry buttons were.
Sounds like fucking river dance.
I get more joy out of watching river city then fucking river city.
This Asian bitch just leaked a fucking river.
No one can tell me she ain't pee.
Dumps all my diet coke cans into the fucking river.
Just leave me alone, bitch!
Sometimes I want to throw my phone in a fucking river.
Hollandse IJssel - Capelle aan den IJssel
Hollandse IJssel - Capelle aan den IJssel
Hollandse IJssel - Near Gouderak

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of phones and rivers, a few years ago while I was still an undergraduate at university, I used to hang out by the Singapore River. My friend was being conscripted into the army (national service) the next day and wanted to prove that it was not a real river because it was salty and no self-respecting river should be salty. He started to walk down the steps to the river and I tried to stop him but ended up falling into the river and when that happened my phone floated away into the river.

    (The river was salty by the way)