Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fiddle as Rome Burns


The gondoliers in Venice are eating breakfast as the city floods, and as I go through the pictures on the Time.com photo essay site, I'm always struck by the resiliency of people to just keep keeping on. I think journalism is not just about highlighting the plight of others, I think it's also a way to rile people up, to get them off their bottoms and take action, but really, with the immediacy and visual and aural stimulation of the instant news, I feel more numb than horrified, scared or even motivated to do anything. Living on an island, I've always had that dream that the oceans are so high that we live on the tops of sky scrapers, and the majority of the buildings are under the water. We have to work our way up in order to get to see sunlight, or risk living in the murky grey, green and black of the ocean. So when my husband told me that Venice was flooded last night, I thought of people hanging out on the tops of buildings, jumping off of ledges to get on the boats. Instead, there are pictures full of tourists, walking in the water, some with rubber boots, some without, but still going about their business. After all, they're in Venice! We humans are an interesting lot. We won't ponder the environmental implications - or the power of signs as much as build taller buildings, stronger retaining walls, and higher docks.

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