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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Not Wading but Sinking


Stalker (Orebro, Sweden): photo by Isaac Cordal, 7 June 2013

That sinking feeling
The business lunch
Heavy on the lap --
Small knoblike men
Gripping power briefcases --
Inertia of the social mass
Lapped by fetid waters --
Wading amid toxin
Saturated weeds --

Zombified -- floating sacs --
Playdough bodies --
Moving in lemming packs
Through dead cities
Toward inevitable collapse

Fragments of Titanic (Pontevedra, Galicia)
: photo by Isaac Cordal, 16 January 2012

Follow the leader (London): photo by Isaac Cordal, 4 October 2010

Electoral campaign (Gandermarkt, Berlin): photo by Isaac Cordal,April 2011

Cement eclipses (Berlin): photo by Isaac Cordal, 26 August 2011

Untitled (Brussels): photo by Isaac Cordal, 13 February 2012

Follow the leader (Nieuwport, Belgium)
: photo by Isaac Cordal, 17 March 2012

The corporation (Nieuwport, Belgium): photo by Isaac Cordal, 6 March 2012

La otra frontera (Montebello, Chiapas, Mexico): photo by Isaac Cordal, 10 November 2013

Open Art (Orebro, Sweden): photo by Isaac Cordal, 8 February 2013

Afloat (Nantes, France): photo by Isaac Cordal, 14 July 2013


TC said...

Is global industrial civilization, controlled by powerful elites who use up the resources, enrich themselves, and produce nothing, headed for "irreversible collapse"? (Guardian, 14 March 2014)

manik sharma said...


Well this is as haunting as anything..Weirdly enough,it reminds me of that inflated balloon pilot in the parody film Airplane!...Are we sitting in the coach behind,thinking the pilot knows best..our detachment from everything human,at that height,other than the mutual sharing of breathing space,and gadget fetishes is probably what will keep us from dying while we convince ourselves of being 'just' alive..It is that feeling of loosely hanging in space,with a vague point of reference..
This is painfully brilliant..

ACravan said...

What next? The Department of Labor sending rockets into outer space? If that's on the docket, I nominate former Labor secretary Robert Reich for the job. I believe he's available and he's the right size. Curtis

TC said...

Manik, we seem to be thinking along the same (crooked) lines.

Global technological civilization inspires trust, would that about sum it up?

"I just want to tell you: we're all counting on you"

the land above water: flight

TC said...

Curtis, well, I would never argue that Robert Reich is as tall as the co-pilot in Airplane, but I'm pretty sure a person's height bears no relation to the quality of her/his mind.

He makes a few points about the history of this country which seem both relevant and inarguable.

Here's a bit of one of his pieces from a few weeks back:


For three decades after World War II, America created the largest middle class the world had ever seen. During those years the earnings of the typical American worker doubled, just as the size of the American economy doubled. (Over the last thirty years, by contrast, the size of the economy doubled again but the earnings of the typical American went nowhere.)

In that earlier period, more than a third of all workers belonged to a trade union — giving average workers the bargaining power necessary to get a large and growing share of the large and growing economic pie. (Now, fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers are unionized.)

Then, CEO pay then averaged about 20 times the pay of their typical worker (now it’s over 200 times).

In those years, the richest 1 percent took home 9 to 10 percent of total income (today the top 1 percent gets more than 20 percent).

Then, the tax rate on highest-income Americans never fell below 70 percent; under Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, it was 91 percent. (Today the top tax rate is 39.6 percent.)

In those decades, tax revenues from the wealthy and the growing middle class were used to build the largest infrastructure project in our history, the Interstate Highway system. And to build the world’s largest and best system of free public education, and dramatically expand public higher education. (Since then, our infrastructure has been collapsing from deferred maintenance, our public schools have deteriorated, and higher education has become unaffordable to many.)

Robert Reich: The Great U-Turn

Hazen said...

Beautiful and poignant. We can no longer claim that the future is opaque to us. The future as the realm of the unknown has been so thinned out by our actions that what lies ahead is now beyond question. It clearly will not be not the place we believed was there waiting for us to engineer our way to it. We’ve managed ourselves to death, mavens of efficiency and speed that we are. The bus plunges over the cliff while we mindlessly diddle our iPhones. As to any residual uncertainties about tomorrow, we’ll get back to ourselves about that: we still refuse to recognize that we’re on the downslope of history. Extinction for our species? Probably not, but what emerges on the other side will be another kind of animal. As Kafka put it: “There is hope, but not for us.”

ACravan said...

I wasn't impugning Secretary Reich's intelligence or his height, but that's an awful lot of cause and putative effect crammed into one piece of polemic.

And while I'm not a great fan of runaway executive pay packages, I'm just as little an admirer of government imposed pay schedules/caps, labor union depredation when it exists, and ridiculous (rather than relevant and inarguable) conclusions lacking foundations like: "It can also be understood as the greatest propaganda victory radical conservatism ever won." What?

“The business lunch/Heavy on the lap – /Small knoblike men/Gripping power briefcases --/Inertia of the social mass” might be relevant negative circumstances and descriptions of some people’s’ lives, but I would say that most people I know who work as company executives aren’t ciphers or villains, just people trying to do the best they can under continually trying circumstances. I know that for the past six and a half years, including during the entire Obama administration, I have been struggling to eke out a living under an impossible economy and what appears to be an indifferent government, including a bloated Department of Education (which Reich might wish to consult regarding his complaints in that area), a NASA that seems to be funding sociology studies (unless the Goddard Space Center report falls under the heading of 21st century/post-modern cosmology) and, according to its Administrator Charles Bolden, outreach efforts to the Muslim world rather than space exploration, and Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous-style presidential leisure travel. If it had not been for the internet bubble and the prosperity nostalgia flowing therefrom, no one would greatly care about either Robert Reich or Bill Clinton’s current comments about anything. They are both very lucky men.

The sculpture tableaus are really amazing. Sorry to sound so crabby.


TC said...


"...what emerges on the other side will be another kind of animal... 'There is hope, but not for us.'"

That (along with the fact I'm a silly old fool) is exactly why I shed a small tear or two back on the weekend for that ladybug.

No more hope for that ladybug, thanks to me. Its crushed corpse turned up on the sill this morning, too tiny even for the cats to want to bother with. No more hope for Franz Kafka, if there ever was.

I remember riding night buses a half century ago through the mountains of more than one remote, "uncivilized" country -- this was back in the day when being American was not the stigma it has justly become since then -- and being unsettled by the way the drivers routinely drove without headlights.

Looking back, those bus rides look much safer to me now than the insane melee I see every time I gaze out listlessly upon the getting and spending traffic stream out front, as "civilization" roars over the cliff...

TC said...

Curtis, to tell you the truth I too am not a great fan of academic pundits, gourmet liberals, or the like. Most of them, like most professionals in the US, enjoy levels of personal privilege that in some parts of the world would be regarded as unimaginable. They may believe this is right and fit.

"...eke out a living..." What would you estimate as your relative income status vis-a-vis the average hardworking citizen of Bangladesh?

And if NASA actually chose outreach to the Muslim world over shooting more metal junk into space, I'd be greatly relieved that my tax money was going in the right direction, for once.

Nin Andrews said...

I am forever amazed by the power or money and how it rules us--and how cruel it is as a ruler.
I know that's too simplistic, but that's pretty much how I see the images and the arguments and just about everything lately.
I don't think we can turn around the collapse we are headed for because it would take an entirely different political system.

And I used to think we had a great country and all this so-called freedom, etc. and we weren't a bit fascist. Oh not us, oh no. Oh to grow old and bitter and disillusioned.

TC said...


We were taught that as kids -- how fortunate we were, to have been born in America. American values were the greatest values on earth.

And we have given the world our values.

Greed; selfishness; the acquisition of money, of more and more property, of houses, of more and more vehicles, second and third and fourth vehicles for everybody in the family; the wholesale violation and consumption of nature and natural resources, foreclosing the future for our spoiled, obnoxious children; the assumption that each American is at the center of a universe unto itself; sacred, inviolable, free.

Hazen said...

Nin’s assessment isn’t simplistic, but rather a statement of fact. Almost everything we believed in, were taught to believe in, has turned out to be an illusion. Someone has said, in another context, that it’s better to know than to believe. True enough. But this raises the question: how do we know? Discernment and long reflection will work; and “critical thinking as spiritual practice,” as Patrick Jennings suggests.

TC said...


The Patrick Jennings piece ("Critical Thinking as Spiritual Practice") gave pause to think... and to think again.

Likewise the quote Jennings has chosen as epigraph:

"Perhaps we ought to relearn how to enrage ourselves, to explode against a certain culture of docility, of amenity, of the effacement of all conflict even as we live in a state of permanent war. It is not because the struggle has changed form, it is not because it is no longer possible to fight a boss, owner, or father that there is no struggle to wage against exploitation. To ask 'what should we do with our brain?' is above all to visualize the possibility of saying no to an afflicting economic, political, and mediatic culture that celebrates only the triumph of flexibility, blessing obedient individuals who have no greater merit than that of knowing how to bow their heads with a smile."

-- Catherine Marabou: What Should We Do with Our Brain? (2008)