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Elemental L.A.

Once in his life, a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience; to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder upon it, to dwell upon it.
– N. Scott Momaday, "XXIV" from "The Way to Rainy Mountains"

Classical antiquity recognized just four elements — air, earth, water and fire — from which everything had been made. These four no longer explain the world, but they retain, at least for me, a poetic capacity — a way of wondering upon where I am.

D. J. Waldie is the author of "Becoming Los Angeles: Myth, Memory, and a Sense of Place." This series of essays called “Elemental L.A.” explores an Angeleno “sense of place” using the four classical elements as guides.
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Metro bus stop on a Los Angeles cityscape

Of Oil Fields, Neon Signs and Tree Shade: The Fires That Fuel Los Angeles

Essayist D.J. Waldie explores the legacy of the fire element on the landscape of Los Angeles.
 Oil rigs overlaid with images of foliage with a colorful filter.

Lost Hills and Wandering Cemeteries: The History of Land Beneath L.A.

Essayist D.J. Waldie digs into the story of the land beneath Los Angeles — earthworms, human remains, liquid gold and all.
 A wave-shape sweeps over a cityscape background.

It's Complicated: Water and Los Angeles

Essayist D.J. Waldie unfurls the complexities of water in Los Angeles, from trickles to torrents.
An illustration of ships, parrots, people on the beach rendered in an impressionistic style.

The Curiously Magical Air of Los Angeles

Essayist D.J. Waldie explores the beguiling and often contradictory qualities of air in Los Angeles.
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