Wednesday, April 3, 2013
56: Leo Marx' Machine in the Garden
Marx also argues that symbolic landscapes are always part myth, part reality, and that Americans have a tendency to mix the two, which means that an interdisciplinary American Studies approach that merges history and literature is the perfect way to study American culture and American exceptionalism. While he does stick to the canon, uses "we" uncritically in reference to American culture, and really does seem to think that literature can speak for all of America, his argument that the American landscape is both technologically and culturally constructed, and that it is at once pastoral and industrial, rings true in landscape studies today. Further, he, like many other post-war Americans, is very much concerned with the apparent technological domination of the landscape, and he issues a veiled solution to this problem that plays on the double meaning of symbol as both artistic and political representation: "the machine's sudden entrance into the garden presents a problem that ultimately belongs not to art but to politics." Well then. If anyone tries to argue that Leo Marx was pro-American exceptionalism, I might suggest they read his book more closely.