While reading the Fifth Season I found it interesting to compare our view of the Earth to that of people of the Stillness. Unlike the people of the Stillness, who see themselves as victims of the Earth, we see ourselves as it’s master and more recently, its protector.
It seems that in the Stillness, its inhabitants are constantly defending themselves from the Earth. They build structures for the sole purpose of defense, hoping to withstand Earth’s mighty blows.They follow stonelore, making sure each town has a wall and each structure has a “flexible central beam”(Jemisin 171). In our world, architecture cannot just be functional, it must also be aesthetically pleasing. In every age we build structure like the pyramids, the Parthenon and the Taj Mahal to show the future how great they were, not necessarily how “practical” they were. In the Stillness, pragmatism rules.
I think one of the major differences between our world and this fictional dystopian one is that in our view we can control the Earth. We master the Earth, or at least we try to. We build coastal cities next to raging seas, like Miami, Florida, which due to rising sea levels, experiences frequent flooding. We create great works in the midst of deserts, mountains and and in freezing climates. We change the landscape to fit our needs, building irrigation systems or dams. We use technology to predict weather patterns to know our Earth better.
We also abuse its resources. The Earth makes us wealthy, stable, strong, comfortable, which I guess gives us the opportunity to see it’s beauty. So we are able pay tribute to the Earth through our art, drama, music, and photography. We secure our parks and nature preserves to show our appreciation, thanks and respect to the Earth for its great generosity to us.
And yet, year after year natural disasters devastate us. They even seem to be more frequent and more intense, most likely due to the changing climate. We use technology to try predict and prepare for such disasters, but there are always unexpected consequences of the Earth’s might. Unlike the Stills, some of us don’t even have a few jugs of emergency water in our basements. We convince ourselves that we are in control of our natural world and that we have the time to be impractical, but do we?