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“Blade Runner”

May 29, 2012

Saturday night, we watched “Blade Runner,” a classic dystopian sci-fi film based on the 1968 Philip K. Dick novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” It’s set in Los Angeles not much more in the future than now and it rains all the time.

Afterwards, Stella took L outside for a walk, and it was pouring rain. Hmm. Maybe Mr. Dick was on to something about our future. The most dystopian thing about the walk, though, was that Stella got skunked.

L.A. in the film was an enormous vertical city, partly abandoned, streets teeming with people. If there were other animals, they were probably skunks and rats. There was continual background noise from video advertising, that awful practice now too common in stores, even in Salida. It was a grim landscape.

Contrast this with a landscape that caught my fancy a couple of weeks ago. I was in Palisade for the first time, for a Marmot Library Network meeting. I knew it was a fruit place, but I wasn’t prepared for miles and miles of orchards and vineyards.

It was a swath of green in a desert land, very appealing at first sight with the Colorado River and a big canal coursing through town. But it had it’s own sci-fi nature. It was a Dr. Seuss landscape with trees and vines pruned and trained into odd, if practical, shapes.

The vineyards especially bordered on monstrous with all the vines trained into T’s of the same height, wires and posts and plumbing for every plant, like tube-feeding comatose patients in the Robin Cook movie “Coma.”

The area has other peculiarities. Roads have names such as 37 3/10 and 35.3 and 38 3/8. And even F ½, which sounds a bit rude. There are signs for a nudist colony but no other indication.

Even though the town is cute for tourism, the feel of farming pervades the region. There’s a distinct pace to agricultural life and seasons. Someone walking rows with a hoe or checking the drip hose on a vine is not in a 9-to-5 rush. No matter how high-tech the method, the plants still have to grow leaves and buds and fruit in their time.

In a way, Palisade is as fantastic as the L.A. depicted in “Blade Runner.” It’s a highly sculpted landscape carefully irrigated out of the desert. The greenery is almost a façade, hard by barren ground.

But the large flow of water provides a solid sense of abundance in a way that even rain might not.

The term, and the idea of, abundance have been on my mind recently. It has been the experience of most Americans, even through recent hard times. The condition of abundance does not mean one always gets what one wants. But we usually have a choice of plenty among plenty of choices.

I’ve spoken of the library’s recent move to the Marmot Library Network as a move toward abundance. The system for requesting things from any of the member library collections is a physical version of the abundance one experiences, or seems to experience, in the digital world online.

The Marmot catalog and the statewide library courier system are like that big canal running through Palisade providing a flow of precious resources to your fingertips.

Our new system includes access to electronic books and audiobooks, but despite the rapid growth of digital collections everywhere, the need for physically moving library materials will probably remain for a long time, like moving peaches and grapes.

But one can buy 3-D printers now … I wonder what a digital peach tastes like?


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