Anxiety in the Aftermath of War

copyright Douglas Stockdale

I have been working on a book project, Instant Nomad, in which I am reflecting on the broader context of anxiety and how that seems to haunt me in little ways. Interestingly, I was in full scale development of my war aftermath project, Gardening for Ordnance, that due to the pandemic I became side tracked to work on my Instant Nomad project. There were some aspects of the surrounding neighborhood that is a decommissioned WWII practice bombing range that I was thinking about photographing that became impossible during the Covid pandemic lock-down. Thus a switch of gears to a project that was essentially complete.

Now I find myself thinking again about Gardening For Ordnance again, perhaps finding it a bit more in common with my Instant Nomad project that I had first suspected as I consider how both relate to anxiety. I had been tweaking my physical book-dummy for the Gardening project some time, thus when I decided to translate it into to a book-dummy PDF for publication submissions, the mock-up process went really quick.

My neighbors seem to accept that the surrounding neighborhood was a bombing range in WWII and a practice rocket range during the Korean War. Even though we continue to receive letters from the US Army that everyone needs to be wary of any bombs that are found, including a three-step process of what exactly to do when one is observed. The anxiety of living in this neighborhood, even with the posted signs and warning letters, seems to be very low, if none at all, since any used military bomb or rockets have not been found and detonated in place for a least three years.

When I started the Gardening For Ordnance project I placed a strong focus on investigating memory and in this case, the avoidance of its preservation. The actual war was in Europe and Asia, far, far away, that occurred over 70 years ago is a very distant memory, and at that time back then, this was farm land used by the Navy and Marines for training to eventually go into the actual combat.

Perhaps taking the time away from the development of the Gardening project has provided the space and time to reflect further on the implications of living on such a location. The resulting anxiety for this location is unlike a severe situation created by actually being in a conflict or war zone, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.

I am now finding that my Gardening For Ordnance concept is slightly shifting as I reflect on the potential and underlying anxiety that living in this neighborhood can trigger…




Featured photograph; Gardening for Ordnance, Trabuco Bombing Range, Late Morning, copyright Douglas Stockdale



Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading again in conjunction with Medium Photo, September 11th, 12th, 18th, & 19th. More details at Medium Photo and where to sign up.


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