Substations and transmission lines, a tour of the uncanny?

The cover of Zazen comes from a photograph my friend Alex Ney took of transmission lines running out from a substation down near the waterfront. I have always been a bit awed and a bit afraid of substations. There’s something so essentially 19th century about the thinking behind it, so, ‘get the ether’ about the approach to electrical anatomy. Then layer after layer of ideas are bolted on to create the skeleton of this strange cultural body we inhabit. Below are two pictures of the same substation. I was fascinated by the old lamps still affixed to the structure mixing with the bay of pigs aesthetic, the ranch-hand barbed wire instead of razor wire and the atmosphere of post 911 paranoia, which took no form but cameras…                                                                                   and yet closer… and at night they light the dead grass lots and hum where sullen teenagers walk, kicking trash and talking about things in a way I can only hope “adults” will come to rediscover and emulate. Here’s one conversation I overheard:

“Dude, if you ran into a Centaur you would be totally scared.”

“Nah-ah.”

“You’re such a liar. They’re like eight feet tall at least.”

(Substation passes behind just after sunset. Later, in the dark, the lamps looks like small bright planets)

jason waugaman took these with his phone

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4 thoughts on “Substations and transmission lines, a tour of the uncanny?

  1. ms vaselka!

    please write more books please write more books please write more books please write more books please write more books please write more books please?

    i just finished Zazen and immediately insisted that all my friends (even my finest friend, whose first language is not english) buy it and read it and tell me what they think. i posted a review on Goodreads (here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/178668858), and Powell’s, and Amazon. i refuse to loan out my copy ’cause it’s autographed (i ordered it from Powell’s after your appearance there).

    would it be redundant to say i loved this book?

    please write more books please write more books please write more books please write more books please write more books please write more books please?

    • you are very kind. Thanks for taking the time to write reviews on goodreads, amazon, powells–it really helps. And thanks for telling your friends! I’ll take it as a high compliment!

      • oops so sorry i spelled your name wrong above! how lame.

        anyway i’m going to insist that my goodreads group read it as well. it’s going to be great meaty fodder (wait… fodder is plant matter… can’t have meaty fodder) for discussion.

        please write more books!

  2. Oh those phone pics seem like those lights are staring at you…kinda freaking me out…..those are all intricate, perfect freaking nightmares.

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