Sunday, October 02, 2016

Frozen Cliches

We visited friends yesterday and they had what appeared to be a fascinating book on the human body.  Very scientific yet a bit irreverent.

Then I got to the page that looked at the different climates humans lived in.  There were little domes for 'hot and humid' and other types of climates.  And this one.

Describing the Arctic as a 'frozen wasteland' is a best a hoary cliche created and perpetuated by people who have never been to the Arctic or whose interest in the Arctic is merely to exploit its natural resources.

Even apparently otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people like the authors of Open Me Up fall prey to ignorant stereotypes.

What exactly is a wasteland?  From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

1 : barren or uncultivated land
2 : an ugly often devastated or barely inhabitable place or area
3 : something (as a way of life) that is spiritually and emotionally arid and unsatisfying
Anyone who has been to the Arctic and isn't spiritually and aesthetically deaf and blind knows the Arctic is NOT barren, is NOT ugly or devastated.  It's incredibly rich with life in the summer, but also still full of life and exquisite beauty in the winter.  Even the picture in the 'frozen wasteland' dome belies the description.  But then cliches are those terms we fall back on without thinking.

Linda Buller and your co-authors and all those editors, are you listening?

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