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Saturday, 16 April 2011

It Will Come Down


Nation wide, Nation deep: rough sleeper, Tottenham High Road, London: photo by Alan Stanton, 8:56 a.m., 23 October 2008

Nor breadth of this nation has yet been measured, nor its depths plumbed

Tulane Avenue Doughboy: homeless man sleeping on park bench beneath World War I soldier monument, Tulane Avenue, New Orleans: photo by Infrogmation, 8 December 2010

The past -- we would not find rest, beneath its burden

Skid row, Los Angeles: photo by Jorobeq, 3 September 2006 Mabel, 2009

The present -- we would turn aside, and it would all come down

"Nickelsville" homeless encampment (named after Seattle mayor Greg Nickels), toward the end of its three-month stay in the parking lot of University Congregational United Church, University District, Seattle: photo by Joe Mabel, 2009

From the sky fell the wealth of the nations -- To every monad a blue plastic pod of its own

Shanty town, Manila, beside Manila City Jail (seen from Recto LRT Station): photo by Mile Gonzalez, 20 May 2007

The generality of the nations -- many not yet wired in, many more forever hung out to dry

Arquitectura emergente (emergent architecture), Sevilla, Spain: photo by Oliver Castaño, August 2005

Still a new architecture is emerging

Modulares de otredad (modular otherness), arquitectura emergente (emergent architecture), Sevilla, Spain: photo by Oliver Castaño, August 2005

A new future is taking shape in the vacant places before our eyes

Arquitectura emergente (emergent architecture), Sevilla, Spain: photo by Oliver Castaño, August 2005

Otherness is modular now

Horno de ladrillos (brick ovens), enseres abandonados (abandoned appliances), Sevilla, Spain: photo by Oliver Castaño, August 2005

It can be transported anywhere

An informal township, Diepsloot, Gauteng Province, South Africa: photo by Glennfcowan, 21 November 2007

It can be loosely put together

Otaka District, Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, 9 April 2011: photo by Rocket News 24

It can be easily broken down

File:Street dwellers in Mumbai.jpeg

Street dwellers, Mumbai: photo by Stephen Codrington, from Planet Geography, 3rd edition, 2005

Its components require no structure


Slums next to high-rise buildings, Kaloor, Kochi, India: photo by k r ranjith, 2007

Its orders are its own -- or everyone's

Abandoned shopping cart imbedded in bushes behind shopping mall, Durham, North Carolina
: photo by Ildar Sagdejev, 2003

It buries its wealth in wild and unattended places

Otaka District, Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, 9 April 2011: photo by Rocket News 24

Memory of a time when ancestors like stone guardians looked on with eyes of stone, everything beneath their gaze collapsing

Masks in showcase of first aid supplies shop, Berlin: photo by Till Krech, 2006

And we hid as it were our faces from them

File:HomelessParis 7032101.jpg

Homeless man with shopping cart, Paris:
photo by Eric Pouhier, 2005

For a time we watched and waited patiently for their return, expecting nothing

File:Homeless Woman.jpg

Homeless woman sleeping behind shopping cart, Nice, France
: photo by Ericd, 2006

Turning away from reflection in the glass, slept at last

Homeless man sleeping on the sand, Revere Beach, Revere, Massachusetts: photo by Daderot, 15 August 2010

And then -- a change, as in the quality of the light just after sunrise

Sun sets over the old medina in central Tripoli: photo by Patrick André Perron, 2007

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our [faces] from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53: 3-6 (King James Version)


Anonymous said...

Denoting the many formal beauties of this seems to miss the point of this powerful piece, but they have and will not go unnoticed. I'm just letting the whole thing sink in. Not being any sort of student of scripture, though, I was surprised after reading the line "And we hid as it were our faces from them" (two or three times; it's fascinating) to learn its derivation and find how seamlessly it fits in with the rest of the piece. That's really something.

TC said...

You saw right into the heart of this by picking out that line, Curtis; it was a sort of tuning fork for the whole endeavour.

These are those sort of times.


that line gave me pause too.

Elmo St. Rose said...

yes, the beggar waits at the

there's a lot of work to do

why not, read today, Thomas Merton,

and do something practical tomorrow

TC said...

Ah, Elmo, that has the ring of good sense.

Alas there are days in the life (well, also long, distracted, aimlessly meditative nights) when the miraculous ability to perform one simple, helpful, useful, practical act seems farther out of reach than walking on water (said the heel to the healer).

Today was one of those increasingly familiar days here when the sound of house demolition becomes, by what must be an eerie form of synesthesia, a sound-picture evocation of that emergent architecture of the future in which the disposable modular otherness of the monad catches out of the anxious corner of its leaking eye faint unwanted glimpses of its own redundant mendicant practicum.

Home-care and homelessness will converge in the emergent architecture of the future, among the weeds and the broken car parts and junked air conditioners.

And as all this d/evolves, every blessed second, every cursed minute, every wasted hour, every lost night and day, by the medieval gate in Japan, while the rain falls, the humiliated samurai stumble around in the mud, trying to find their broken swords.

It's the fleeting glint in the muck that twinkles like a little star.

Full moon out there beyond the migraine night.

Meanwhile, Elmo, let's go for a ride with Thomas Merton and a Purple Swamphen on an empty boat.

TC said...


On the "put those idlers to work" theme...

aditya said...

Thats a common sight on the roads of Gurgaon Tom. Thats a common sight almost anywhere else as your post says now.

'From the sky fell the wealth of the nations -- To every monad a blue plastic pod of its own'
Terrific line.

In Delhi you get
to breathe
and watch
the dry

TC said...

Common, all too common. For many years we have in fact been huddled under successive patchwork layers of those blue plastic pods. But of course each individual blue plastic pod, like each child of the gods, has a limited life expectancy of its own. They come, they go. Currently the latest generation of pods is draped over the caved-in front steps of the collapsing mansion. All that remains between the children of the gods and the heavens, I am sometimes tempted to think, is blue plastic.