In this narrative, Laura first talked about the independence of the fishermen in West Point. They lacked political power to seek help from the government, and the government officials were ignorant of their suffering. She mentioned herself being “inside” of such a kind of life and did not notice the hardship of living in this place or the “going back to nature.” Then she said she did not see women’s liberation either in her life. She described how she had to do everything that men were doing in lobstering because her husband broke his leg and there is a family to support. In the end, she emphasized the nature of independence and uniqueness of the lobstermen. She said:”The government must realize that we can’t be made into a chorus. Fishermen must remain independent.”
W.J.T Mitchell’s Imperial Landscape reminds me of our previous reading Harley’s Deconstructing the Map. Neither the landscape nor the maps should be showing the exercise of power over them, but the influence is inevitable. For the maps, we can see “how they extend and reinforce the legal statutes, territorial imperatives, and values stemming from the exercise of political power” (Harley 11). Meanwhile, the imperialism over landscape does not only shows in how artists portray the sceneries, but also shows in the landscape itself–or more accurately, how we perceive the landscape. Since the presence of exercise power is almost omniscient, there is no way we can see the landscape and maps in an absolutely objective way. Both the landscape and maps are presenting themselves, and though such presence seems unchanged over time, how we understand it altered as the society and the historical context around us changed.
Peter Ralston says that “Allen and Benner Islands are Betsy’s ‘other man'”, and such words caught my eyes when I first read through this piece of work. Of course, I understand what Ralston is trying to tell us: Betsy is so passionate about the Islands that they are almost as important as her husband for her. But I do doubt that for a woman with such a strong willing and clear vision to create her own world on such a feral territory, is it an appropriate comparison?
In the Iconography and Landscape, Daniels and Cosgrove define landscape as “a pictorial way of representing, structuring or symbolizing surroundings. ” Betsy is definitely constructing a landscape under this definition. She put her home on the island, making the unoccupied island that is 6 miles away from the coast into her “ultimate refuge.” She reconstructed the sail loft on the island to make it serve as a museum that displays the history of fishing in this area. She is turning the island from a “space” to a “place” following her own wills. Her husband Andy is painting with brushes and watercolors, while she is “painting” with buildings on this landscape. They are working in concert and creating harmony and is in no way being disturbed by her passion toward the island. In fact, they both love this place. That’s why I believe that “other man” is a highly improperiate expression.
Harley talked a lot about the cartography in the past and how science had been improving the accuracy but decreasing the ‘human influence’ in the making of maps. He also mentioned the Official State High Way Map of North Carolina, which is illustrated with drawings, photos, and various colors. Such a contrast makes me think about our timeline project: should we present the history that narrates what exactly happened to the lobstermen, lobsters, or Mid-coast Maine, or should we tell these stories with our emotions and interpretations in them? For maps, the scientific accuracy and the personal opinions seem to be incompatible, since the geography features are ‘objects’. Though they can be changed through time, the changes can hardly be different in people’s eyes. However, people may see histories in quite different ways. The evolution of lobster fishing is just texts and photos for us, but for those lobstermen, such progress is closely related to their livelihood. And artists who recorded the evolving progress are close observers even if all those development was tangential to their lives. I believe that what we shoudl do is neither simply retelling the recorded history through the timeline nor mixing all our own understandings with the facts. What we need to do is to collect information from different perspectives, and present all the facts, anecdotes and emotions. We are not doing science, we are summarizing different stories from different groups of people into a ‘history’.
Stella saw ghosts. They are the ghosts of the dead on the Goat Island, or in another way, a part of the crystallized past of Stella. She never thought about going to the mainland before, since she “never saw any reason to go”. She saw her granddaughter off to the Mainland to go to high school and she knew that “Jane was gone for good”. She understood there was a world outside, but she still wanted to stay in the island—froze with it. It’s not only in the physical way, but also in an emotional way: she is surrounded by her past—on her way to the Mainland, with all of the dead people she knew, and then she dead. She was frozen in the past, in the old spacetime: she never made it to the Mainland, and everyone she loved in different times appears all at once. She was frozen with them, the moment she left the island. That is her crystallizing outside the flows.
After reading An Eye for the Coast, I was touched by this man Eric Hudson, who was also in the photograph we discussed last time. He loved Monhegan so much that he spent a long time on the island, drawing, photographing, and observing. Monhegan was a place for him, not only because of his emotional attachment to the island, but also because he understood the community on the island, and was somehow, a part of it. I realized his understanding of the community when I read the analysis of his photo captured a gathering of fishermen and his children at Fish Beach (Hudson.158). The photo not only shows a traditional meeting of the fishermen, but also indicates an unusual “non-structural interaction” between adults and children. I would say, this photo is more concentrate on a landscape instead of people themselves. Landscape can be the harmony of human and nature (Meinig.46). Fishing in the sea is group work, fishermen had to face the dangers and challenges of nature together in a single vessel, and this is how the close relationship among them was constructed. Their long-time work also directed to the fact that their children were brought up together by the whole village, and that’s the reason why the scene of children intermingling with adults appeared on the photo. The environment shaped part of the fishermen’s personalities, and also influenced their small society. This is how nature and human together formed this island, and why I am impressed by Eric Hudson for capturing this fact by his photos and drawings.