So, I’ve been in major art/life production mode these past few days, and I’m itching to work on my big project, but my paper still hasn’t shown up.
I decided that instead of getting sucked into the abyss of the interwebs I’d revisit my Deepwater Horizon images. There is still something there. It’s shifted, which I kind of expected. I’m drawn more towards moments of industrial, man-made, interruptions in the images now instead of the smoother organic shapes I started with (at least in my mind, this is how I think of them!) They are slower too. Not the same urgency. Not as many images.
It’s amazing to see how rapidly the news media folks shifted focus – most of the images are from the initial weeks of the catastrophe. It’s overwhelming at times, to think about how frequently new tragedies occur, grabbing our attention just long enough to disturb us but never long enough to affect us. I’m thinking now of what’s happened in Pakistan and the flooding along the Indus River. It’s terrifying to read some of the articles, not just about the distaster itself, but the Western response or lack of response.
Take for instance this piece by Max Fisher on the website for “The Atlantic” talking about why Americans specifically aren’t donating money the same way they did for the earthquake in Haiti or the Indian Ocean tsunami. This hits a different button for me than what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. This is one human being acting in a compassionate manner towards another human being in a time of need. Why should it matter where the tragedy is, or how “photogenic” the disaster is?!?! That’s just trying to put a pretty face on something quite ugly. It’s hard, when you read the numbers of how the donations have radically dropped not to think that either through the lack of coverage by the American media, or if it’s the American people themselves, it seems like we shouldn’t have to donate. The Pakistani people don’t deserve our compassion. How else can I parse this out? The disaster isn’t horrific enough to warrant us helping. Yet that’s not true. So we don’t have enough money to donate. Possible, but how on earth could that account for the astronomical difference between Haiti and Pakistan?? Seriously, look at the numbers.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. It’s just appalling to me on some level. I think there is something underlying both the American response to this disaster and the whole situation in the Gulf that disturbs me. A shift in priorities that fundamentally differs from my own. An emphasis on the material, the money, the consumable. An acceptance of the known and a deep-seated fear of the unknown, or the different. It’s hard to reconcile and hard to understand from where I sit.
Signing off for now….