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Sunday, 20 March 2011

City: An Illusion of Control


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Office workers in Tokyo's Shiodome district near Tokyo Bay stay on the pedestrian deck, observing surrounding high-rise office and hotel buildings swaying, Friday 11 March 2011, shortly after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off Japan's northeastern coast:
photo by AP/Koji Sasahara




In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.



Bertolt Brecht: Motto to the 'Svendborg Poems' [Motto der 'Svendborger Gedichte'], 1938, translated by John Willett in Poems, 1913-1956





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Hotel employees squat down in horror at the hotel's entrance in Tokyo after a strong earthquake hit Japan, 11 March 2011
: photo by AP/Itsuo Inouye


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A station staff directs passengers at Tokyo's Shinagawa train station after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake slammed Japan's eastern coast, 11 March 2011
: photo by AP/Hiro Komae


Captured: Japan Earthquake

Commuters sit stranded at Tokyo railway station as train services are suspended due to a powerful earthquake, 11 March 2011
: photo by AP/Hiro Komae

6 comments:

abadguide said...

I love that man with the spotless white gloves.

curtisroberts said...

The mood of each of these shots is fascinating and (to me at least) indescribable. I guess "an illusion of control" comes as near as anything could. The women at the hotel look very beautiful. The closest thing I've ever seen that compares was Thursday of the week of the 9/11 attack when people were once again permitted to enter Manhattan. There was the same The Day The Earth Caught Fire silence and stillness (but not physical emptiness) on the streets.

TC said...

The white gloves and surgical mask, in advance of the catalclysmic "event", suggest that (speaking to at least the instinctive animal level that lurks buried somewhere inside everyone), it may be an illusion to suppose that any conscious being dwelling in such a congested environment could ever really have been under any illusion at all as to the extremely ephemeral, temporary, fragile and tenuous status of everything beneath and behind these cool, clean surfaces.


The bottom photo strikes me as particularly telling, that moment of silence, wonderment, confusion, even possible excitement (the man on the escalator smiling, as if he had heard a good joke -- is that what Brecht meant by "singing"?), just at the brink of the breaking-open of a great rent in the orderly civil structure of things, just before everything has begun to slide...

(That sort of moment you will never forget, for the rest of your days.)

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

In the dark times. . . .

Ours, here, are pale by comparison -- the power went out middle of Saturday night (and is still out), big winds took down stree (and lines) on Mesa Road and Terrace (which has been closed to traffic for a long time now, and Mesa Road also closed to cars until Sunday late afternoon. . . .

3.21

light coming into sky above still black
ridge, whiteness of moon next to branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

pictorial, note that before
attraction a position

more than gesture tilted up,
shift, as the picture

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
sunlit white cloud to the left of point

TC said...

Steve,

Here it poured before dawn, then cleared and a faint half moon floated up like a yellowed soap chip over the bay, whilst dark flotillas of bruise-coloured cloud in advance of the next wave of storms moves inland from the direction of El Cerrito.

Is the End of the World the day on which everyone becomes finally totally dependent on our helpful friends in the "power" business?

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Oh my, cloud flotilla moving in from El Cerrito sounds serious. Maybe it's time for a no fly zone? Meanwhile, power is back on, the sump pump going on every few minutes as ground water pours into a 50 gallon barrel buried near corner of house, moving water from here toward field across the back fence. . . .