Radical Joy Revealed
May 21, 2014

Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places. We hope you'll enjoy these doorways into places that are both familiar and surprising, and we welcome your suggestions, stories, and photos. Click here to subscribe.

 "As If the Light Didn't Care"
Aerial nuclear site
Drainage Ditches in a Low Agricultural Field, Savannah River Nuclear Site, SC. Photo by Emmet Gowin
Photographer Emmett Gowin forces his viewers to hold together a shaky balance between ugly and beautiful truths.


When you first see his aerial photographs, hand-tinted to give the black and white images a silvery sheen, you are struck by the intricacy of nature's design: great crisscrossed tracks in sand; mysterious spirals; a gigantic hole half filled with shadow like a terrestrial eclipse. Then you look at the captions. It turns out these are petrochemical sites, nuclear test areas, weapons storage depots. What is beautiful in the abstract and horrifying when you find out what the subject is, becomes beautifully horrifying when you attempt to hold both reactions together.


Describing his reaction when he first came upon a crater at the Yucca Flat Test Site in Nevada, an enormous gouge in the sand made by a nuclear test bomb, Gowin wrote: "This is probably one of the most poisoned places in the world. How can it be beautiful? It was as if the light didn't care and the sun didn't think." 



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Radical Joy for Hard Times is a global community dedicated to finding and making beauty in wounded places. Reconnecting with these places, sharing our stories of loss and despair, and making acts of beauty there, we transform the land, reconnect people and the places that nourish them, and empower ourselves to make a difference in the way we live on Earth.
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