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my downward spiral

my downward spiral - Algonquin River State Hospital*
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If one cares at all for the truth, it is important to periodically step back and look at what defines the world around us, and by extension, ourselves. In Algonquin River State Hospital's case, it is defined by its grand ambitions and idealistic foundation - and now, by the collapse of these noble dreams. It is a place haunted by the scores of tragedies that litter its past, by its inability to integrate into the world around it, and its inevitable decline into obsolescence and disrepair - much like me.

If I were to be honest, I don't want to see it demolished, but I don't want to see it restored either. It is what it is because of these things, and its status as some behemoth enshrouded in its own obscurity and decay makes it larger than life, legendary even. To tear it down to make some development or store seems so pedestrian, insultingly dull, in much the same way as trying to undo all of the damage wrought upon it, cleaning it and sterilizing it and packaging it for the masses ultimately belittles what it truly is. You may look at it and wince at the sheer scale of the calamity it has become, but no matter what you think, Algonquin has finally revealed its true nature and become something far more intricate and ornate than our ordinary world, with its gray cubicles and prefabricated sentiments, allows. To see Algonquin River State Hospital, you have to actively seek it, much like you are making a pilgrimage to some hallowed site that is a shrine to all that fails, all hopes that are smashed by time. To change it, to 'save' it, ultimately destroys it anyway. Sometimes it is the very things that eat us apart, that ultimately kill us, even, that are our own defining characteristics. If Edgar Allen Poe wouldn't have followed a trajectory that left him dead in some back street gutter, if Van Gogh hadn't followed a path of loneliness so severe that it drove him mad - would we ever know of their works? Would they even have accomplished any?

I believe that dissatisfaction is the mother of creation. Without it we have no incentive to create or to change, as contentment is suspicious of change, lest it throw off comfortable equilibrium. And so I suppose my own defining characteristics are a necessary evil. Were I to be perpetually happy, were I not to suffer, this work that I do that defines me, that is paradoxically one of my only joys - that would likely cease to be as well.

I don't want to be a Walmart, a business park, a playground. When I am gone, let it be left to those few (if any) who care to wonder at what drove me to do what i do, and what frightening and magnificent things I saw in places like this. I have chosen this path and where it will lead me, all in the hope that it will entertain, edify, and maybe even enlighten those of you gracious enough to join me and peer into my world through the small window of my camera's lens.

This is my downward spiral in all its splendor, friends. Enjoy.
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Photographs and text of Algonquin River State Hospital (a pseudonym) by Matthew Christopher of Abandoned America. If you're interested in more Abandoned America blogs, follow this link. If you enjoy my writing, check out my books: Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream (Amazon / Barnes & Noble) or Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences (Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Signed copies).


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