Funny how the use of language can influence our experience of reality. If people are told repeatedly that green is black and that yellow is green, that’s what they begin to see. In fact, there are numerous experiments in the study of psychology of language, where it’s been observed that when different shades of the colour blue, as an example, have been flashed to native speakers of languages that had different names for these colours and to those who didn’t, the native speakers of the more shades of blue perceived them as different and separate colours, whereas those whose native language had only one term, saw them as basically one colour.
So, to cut the long story short, people have been hearing about how grey and anti-environmental Russia has been ever since its leap into the industrial bliss (well, of course like everywhere developed, industrialism was no party for ecology), however, because the Soviet ideal was quality and not quantity, i.e. “use and make things but not to the extent of capitalist consumerism”, then among European and North American cities, Russia can boast of the most green space.
And yet, we hear people of various nations, professions, and hues insisting adamantly on that Russia is polluted and that it needs to emulate western cities. But if only these ardent orators could shed their linguistic schizophrenia, they would see that if they truly mean by ecological improvement the increase of green space, trees, the variety of life-form, and the access to fresh water and air by all regardless of their social or economic backgrounds, then the developed and the rich should emulate the simple and the humble and start by looking at how could such a huge metropolis as Moscow be so much more ecological and pleasant than London, Paris, Toronto, Tokyo, or New York, for example. I’ve been to many large cities on five continents, so I know what I’m talking about.
You can see for yourself if you compare the various cities on google earth.
I noticed that I had this image of Russia myself. Thus, every time that I flew or crossed the border by land to Russia from some western city, I always experienced the same overwhelming feeling of awe at the exact point at the border of Poland with Belarus or when flying over Saint Petersburg or anywhere along that frontier that divides languages, hopes, and the experience of the world. That frontier is an imagined line that has been turned into a fatal reality. There, I left behind the brown, raped and irrigated land of the people who first dreamt then turned themselves into the masters of the world and entered a land drowned in green, lush Russian forests, which Ikea, among other “successful” western openers of eastern markets and horizons (which are not expansionist but expanded) are turning into bourgeois furniture, fruit bowls and chopsticks.
Yes, democracy and market economy have changed much in the world. The greedy embrace the principles of humility when those principles are imposed on their servants (and most of the population in the developed service societies are servants, that’s how they can’t solve the immigration “problem” – they need the servants, but every now and then, instead of being happy to give their time and lives, the servants come up with some “I have a dream” frenzy which then is so costly to stump out and bring back the abused servants to order). In the place of what has now become furniture and utensils, we get roads, cars, petroleum – the blood of the earth, the few insane rich and the impoverished human masses in despair, and the irony that makes possible for trees to be turned into red books to record the rapidly disappearing species.
Parts of the Moscow have preserved the original forest that once covered the whole area surrounding the Kremlin.
Still as soon as the snowy whiteness recedes, life sprouts and buzzes in spite of us.
Inside a building entrance in the centre of Moscow, metro Kievskaya.
The backyard of the same building:
In the typical Russian fairy tale tradition, a beam of light descends upon the mystical sign:
Lake Bottomless to the left
3 a row of Good’s Silver Wood
and other good things to the right
you go straight on your own risk
Strogino opens up on Serebrjannyj Bor, or the Silver Wood in English, a large protected forest enclave.
Grazing horses, swimming, playing, walking, pondering….
More pictures of Moscow: