Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Presque Isle

It's very strange how the most unexpected things so considerably move and influence us. I've written before, in background links at the bottom, about how a pair of cheap and popular TV movies changed my life; and I'll never forget the time when I was a small child I saw Kate Bush's rock video Cloudbusting in the cinema, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF813vmbcQY. It haunted and consumed me for many years, and I had no idea why. It was a very long time later that I discovered that the track is a ballad about the life and works of Wilhelm Reich. Did a part of me predict in advance where my adult life would take me? See here for more details: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/programme-36-podcast-peter-robbins.html. There was another such event in my life that I've never written about before despite it being extremely formative for me. It's one of the most unexpected and it concerns a place I've never been to in my life, before or since, and had never even heard of before until that auspicious moment.

Presque Isle is a peninsula on the south shore of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes, as their name suggests, are a series of huge expanses of fresh water in North America that lie roughly on the border between Canada and the United States of America. They're so big that they're generally regarded as inland seas and Presque Isle sits on the small segment of the coast given to the state of Pennsylvania, creating a natural harbour. Its name comes from presqu'île, meaning "peninsula" in French, literally "almost an island". It is a remarkable geological formation; a massive six-mile long sand spit that was created by the interaction of the prevailing anticlockwise currents of Lake Erie with the shoals of the south shore. Presque Isle is not a specific object in itself, but the effect of an action. Sand washed in by the current accumulated at the western end of the shoal a few thousand years ago and piled up to form the infant peninsula. Since then it has been moving steadily eastwards along the south coast of Lake Erie like a slow motion wave of sediment, by about half a mile per century. The current steadily washes away the west coast of Presque Isle and deposits sand on the eastern shore, by the mouth of Presque Isle bay. This creates a unique natural wonder in that the biological landscape changes from east to west because the land gets older as you travel westwards; this makes Presque Isle a geographical time capsule. On the eastern extremity you have the newest deposits, just banks of sand and mud with the typical beach life. A few hundred yards inland you start to see small sand dunes with grass. Further west you get bushes and shrubs, further still small trees. By the time you reach the opposite shore the habitat has developed into a full-sized developed deciduous forest. This is termed a "climax forest" because after that it's time for the waves to take back what they've given, and the land is swept away into the lake by the relentless longshore drift. However, this is only part of the natural cycle of Presque Isle; everything swept away on the west shore is deposited on the east to begin the process all over again, for five or six hundred years until the spit has moved on and the cycle turns again. This precious wonder has made Presque Isle a site of special scientific interest; it has the status of a Pennsylvania state park. The Erielhonen Indians were the first people known to have lived on Presque Isle; because its shape resembles a human arm they believed that it was the arm of the Great Spirit. In the colonial era Britain and France battled for it and in the 19th century it was fought over in the 1812 Anglo-American War. There are the ruins of forts everywhere, making it a site of special historical and archaeological interest too. Today it is a popular tourist attraction with miles of winding roads and footpaths. Its fresh beaches are attractive for bathing and water-sports in the summer. There is an annual fun weekend there of sports, hiking, amusements, arts and crafts and other attractions, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zltXdDB91Xs. In winter cold winds from Canada blow in to make it freezing there. Interestingly there was a UFO incident on Presque Isle in 1966, a multiple witness CE-3. Despite attempts to debunk it I still think it holds water, but that's a story for another time, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO7-v10TG5Q.
This information all came to me in a single one-hour documentary I saw in about 1993 or 94 on the Discovery Channel or a similar platform; unfortunately I can't find a recording of it anywhere online. It discussed the future of Presque Isle and how intervention was going to be needed because the cyclical action described above would continue to move the formation eastwards. The beaches on the western side were being eroded away. In fact at several times in the 20th century Presque Isle- "almost an island" became a real island when freak winter storms washed the causeway all the way through severing the main body of the peninsula from the shore until the link was repaired. The original plan involved a tried and tested technique called "sand nourishment"; one used on many seaside beaches. Sand is brought in from another location and deposited on the beach to replace that which is lost to erosion. The problem with sand nourishment is that it has to be a continuous process that costs continuous money; half a million tons of sand are needed every year and it all has to be driven in by lorry. Then in the 1990's a new plan was proposed, one which it was believed would halt the erosion altogether. In a single one-off operation that would cost the equivalent of three years of sand nourishment, a series of huge offshore groynes would be constructed in the surf. However, as the documentary stated with scorching poignancy: "it might destroy the magic of Presque Isle forever." The beaches on the west side would be saved, and might even expand out to the groynes, but without the sediment flow from those beaches, the eastern end of the formation would begin to erode; all the new sandbanks would never develop into climax forested land and would instead be returned immediately to the lake. Presque Isle would become a static location, halted in its patient, tireless and millennial march eastwards. The whole peninsula would eventually become forest and a lot of the unique seaside habitats would disappear. To be fair, if Presque Isle were left to nature it would eventually be destroyed anyway; in a few thousand years it would fall off the eastern end of the shoals and be gone forever. The advantages of sand nourishment are that there would be no erosion at the eastern side and that part of the feature would continue to inch eastwards while leaving behind the western half. In a few centuries we'd see a very differently-shaped Presque Isle, but still one recognizable in terms of its biological and geological environment. Nevertheless the breakwater plan was approved and the US Army Corps of Engineers built fifty-eight groynes, each 150 feet long 350 feet apart; and 200 to 300 feet offshore... these kinds of activities tend always to involve the military for some reason. Another effect of the breakwaters is that the coast's clean western skyline has been ruined. One of the beaches is called "Sunset Beach" because on a clear evening you can get such a lovely view of the sun descending to the horizon. Today the view is sullied by these huge elongated piles of rock. Ironically the plan has only partially worked anyway; a certain amount of sand nourishment is still needed to top up that accumulated by the breakwater system, see: http://old.post-gazette.com/healthscience/20011104erie1104p8.asp. Tellingly, and fatefully for Presque Isle, such a breakwater construction could never been done on an oceanic coast because they are banned at the seaside for being environmentally damaging. They got away with it at Presque Isle on a technicality... "Ah, but Lake Erie is a lake and not the sea, isn't it?" It's a pity that the documentary is not online because it's extremely well-made. It has a lovely score with electronic pan pipe music and piano melodies that I can still hear in my head to this day. As I watched the TV programme I was almost electrocuted by some of the most powerful emotions I'd ever experienced. I found somewhere private in the house and broke down, my heart shattered. It's difficult to describe in words exactly how it made me feel. I wept like a woman for several hours non-stop. I dreamed about Presque Isle for many nights afterwards, and I was unable to think about anything else for several days. I cheered myself up with violent fantasies about planting dynamite on the groynes and blowing them to pieces. Why, with all the reasons to be sad in this world, did the plight of Presque Isle rip into me the way it did? Maybe it's a symptom of how mentally fragile I was in those days. If I'd first heard about the story today it wouldn't affect me the way it did back then. This is not to say that the taming of the natural wonder of Presque Isle was would go unnoticed by me. It still does represent the conquest of nature by the fallen man; in fact it's an almost textbook example. I would certainly mention it on HPANWO and it might even trigger one of my "Boudica moments", see background links below. The first people to see Presque Isle were a pre-Illuminati culture, the Erielhonen Indians. One way or another, those people were almost all exterminated within five hundred years when they made contact with the Illuminati-occupied West. The historian Michael Wood calls this process very pithily "The end of sacred times, the triumph of profane times." When they saw the outline of Presque Isle the Erielhonen believed it was the arm of their universal divine principle, the Great Spirit. Well I believe that the Great Spirit does exist, in whatever form you wish to regard him. Maybe he spoke to me while I was watching that TV programme. I know he wanted to tell me that he doesn't like being handcuffed,


Anonymous said...

Dear Ben. Very thoughtful and heartfelt post on a place I'd never heard of before.

Those Indians describing that process as the great spirit is very telling, it is the story of the inifinity of the natural cycle, not just the hypothetical state of nature that can never be pinned down or jettisoned but that but that which moves freely. The same place but always different, spontanious but purposeful.

I imagine this reflects in the man who's Ego is swept away but a true person of no fixed position remains nonetheless, a true meaning of authentic selfhood. We seem to want to capture and manipulate the transitory at the detriment of discovering the eternal pattern, the 'Great Spirit' that we also wish to contain with are limited self awareness by branding it with a definitive name, A Schizophrenic God a universe born of Ego consciousness projecting itself onto a landscape it wishes to control and a universe it fears.

Perhaps this place holds some secrets that certain individuals wish to preserve for other reasons?. Shame that documentary is not available but it's worth keeping an eye out as somebody somewhere has it I suspect. *****PLEASE GET INTOUCH IF YOU DO*****

Take Care

Bpk Baktiar said...
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Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Hi X. Cheers, glad you liked it. I'd like to go there. I always meant to. Will one day. It's a big subject, way beyond the scope of this article, but I DO think there is something suspicious about the behaviour of those in power, the way they are always gunning for anything natural and inspiring. I'll have to investigate more about that.