Sunday, September 21, 2008

Week 2 Reading: Afterthoughts

So just a quick note on last week's readings:
In Sternfeld's series, p. 192-198, isn't it strange how there are no people? Particularly in a photograph of a tourist attraction (Mt. Rushmore) and in the middle of a thriving city (D.C.)? I wasn't sure what was making the images so effective in translating the tragedy, but I realize the omission of people feels very eerie. Surely, this was purposeful. Other things that enhance the images eeriness: the darkened windows in the grocery store that look like they're hiding something, the billboard that looks strangely heavenly amid rubble, and the way the bus stops glass reflects only slightly.

"Homeplace," page 210, was the story of a family whose house was blown over by a tornado multiple times and refused to leave. Sanders believes that they stayed because they "had invested so much of their lives in the land... it was a particular place, intimately known, worked on, dreamed over, cherished." I had lunch with a friend who just started law school and he set up a scenario that he was reading about on land-property-or-something-like-that-rights. If someone owns a piece of land, but does absolutely nothing with it for like twenty years, and some people come and squat on the land and build a house and take care of the property for like ten years... who rightfully owns the property? It turns out that laboring over the land (for some amount of time) actually gives you some rights to the property--he hadn't gotten to what those rights would be exactly, but it was interesting to know that the efforts of the "squatters" wouldn't be for nothing.

4 comments:

jmc said...

Nice observations on the photo series. I think the question of squatter's rights is an engaging one. Did it inspire any critical thinking or creativity?

h. van de mark said...

I can't say I completely understand what you mean. I did spend some time thinking on it.. critically though, I'm not sure. It does make me think of another story I read about these people who had stopped paying their rent in NYC and the landlords couldn't do anything about--but I don't remember why not. Nothing creative yet...

Samuel said...

Tricky question about squatter's rights. I wonder, what's your take on that?

h. van de mark said...

Originally, I thought the land owner would have the only set of rights according to the law, and because it's his property, ownership and all. But then, my friend made the point of, but after 10 years of neglect, can the land owner really demand entitlement to the property? Because it's not like the squatters just up and settled in over night, they were living there, built property, made a garden for a decade. I think if the land owner had intervened within the year, then the squatters would have to go (legally). But after a year, the situation changes. Again, I'm not sure what rights specifically are given to the squatter. But I think this is fair... I'm curious if you/others see it from a different angle.