I was remembering the shocking
cheerfulness with which the sun shone on the ruins of my life
after the house fire in 1986, as if it hadn't noticed at all.
In the end that constancy brings comfort; in the immediate
aftermath of the storm it only serves to emphasize our personal
helplessness, insignificance and vulnerability.
Banda Aceh is the Indonesian provincial
capital that was most extensively damaged in the 2004 Christmastime
The Lower Ninth Ward is one of the poorest sections of New
Orleans, still flat and aching and empty a year after Hurricane
Alyssa Peterson was the third female
soldier to die in the American occupation of Iraq (2003).
Only three years later did the circumstances of her death
"come to light": She was a gifted language student,
attending University on a military scholarship and easily
mastering several languages. When it came time to fulfill
her military obligation, she was trained and sent to Iraq
as a translator for interrogations. After only two days of
this service she requested a transfer to guard duty, citing
her unease with the techniques used. One day later she committed
suicide, apparently unable to find her way through the terrible
darkness brought to her through the brilliant light of language.
The thread of orange in the dark
blood-soaked landscape is the empty light of fluorescent tape:
the entirely ineffective attempt by authorities to contain
devastation by defining it.