Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hello Goodbye Agloe

Agloe, here you weren't, and here you were, and here you aren't again.

A paper town, as some would say, is what Agloe NY is now known for.  Not their cheese or paper mills, not the smell of cow manure or fresh strawberries...no, not this town.  Apparently back in the 1930's there was a new town added to the map of NY state which was produced by the General Drafting Company. In an attempt to detour piracy, two men at GDC by the name of Otto G. Lindberg and Ernest Alpers decided to quietly place a fictitious town on the site of a dirt road, they combined letters from their names, and it was then dubbed Agloe.
Years later there would be a general store built in that vicinity, the owners decided to name it after the town that it was in--totally logical.
Time passes and Rand McNally produces a map, a map which acknowledges the imaginary town. GDC sees this and calls bullshit on McNally for copying them, with the proof being Agloe's existence on the map. They go to court and McNally's defense is fairly solid, citing the existence of the Agloe General Store. McNally was not found guilty.
Now, many years later, that store no longer exists, and until just weeks ago the town was still being acknowledged by Google.  
So what does that mean?
Bio on the big B
Jean Baudrillard

Does the place not exist? How does one define the genesis or death of a place, and if we do, isn't it all totally arbitrary?  If some maps had this town, and others didn't, does that mean that the town is in some weird limbo, unable to attain permanency? Or are we simply exploiting the fact that there is no original, no truth?
"Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of the territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer proceeds the map, nor does it survive it" (B 1). 
I didn't see any surrounding homes in the area of Agloe, which is probably why this "ruse" went on for as long as it did.  Without witnesses, or bystanders in this name game, there was no one to call attention to the discrepancy.  But what if there were, what would they say? Would they even give a shit?  Would that make their homes, lives, events that took place there dissapear...make them less real?

1 comment:

  1. I remember blogging about this, and it took me by surprise that a town could actually be created, lived in, then taken away just like that. The only way the town "existed" was because a store decided to name their store after it, then when it went out of business, so did the town. Looking at this from a Marxists' perspective they would have a field day with this!

    The only way to make a town real has to make a connection with capitalism, it has to make money, it has to produce something, and be a contributing thing to the bigger society in which we live in.

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