A baffling panorama

To: <>
Subject: A baffling panorama
From: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2006 14:09:03 +1100
Anyone who likes an environmental puzzle might like to pause while driving along Wentworth Ave and take a glance at the extraordinary visual display on the hoardings screening the current stage of the 'Kingston foreshores' development. There is a combination of pictures, labels, and inscriptions, the latter in what appears to be a facsimile of an archaic hand, but on closer inspection is just an archaic-looking typeface.

The main puzzle is whether this is government-funded public education or real-estate advertising at a new level of subliminal cunning.

The first label is '21,000 years of human occupation'. Well, OK, we know what they mean, although why this would interest the luxury-penthouse buyer is another matter. The next is 'A wide flood plain' (with a watery picture). This is a curious enticement to the purchaser, although the archaic hand adds reassuringly 'the lake roughly follows the floodline'. The next label (with picture) is 'From Grassland' to which the archaic hand adds, incomprehensibly, 'the modern landscape has a surprising affinity with the old'. One could only begin to know whether there was anything surprising or affinity-like going on if given a slight indication of what on earth was 'the modern' (in the view of the hinted-at archaic writer) and what 'the old'.

The next one is 'To Suburb', the picture showing that what was in mind here was the very first suburbs built in Canberra (as distinct, I suppose, from the 'ultimate-post-suburb' offering that is now under construction). Amazingly the archaic inscription on this one is 'we could see the smoke from the sawmill'. The irony of this reminder of the last old trees in the valley being sliced-up or fed into the boiler was evidently lost on this creative evoker of yesteryear.

               Geoffrey Dabb
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ph/fax   :   02 6295 3449

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