Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Phantom Limb

It has gone. It is no longer there, but I still sense it. We are not allowed to go there, into the inner city. Still cordoned by an iron ring of ironically camouflaged army personnel, the city is off limits. Too dangerous, still, one month later. Too tragic. Those who have been admitted inside the cordon, the rescuers, those with a vital task, say we will not believe how awful it is. It has gone, nearly everything has gone. The beloved big moments and small moments that make the city, that were a vital part of what we were, amputated. The smell, they say, is unbearable. Fish markets, butcheries, cafes, now for a month with no electricity. The flowers sit outside florists, or tumbled onto the footpaths. Cafe tables and chairs where they were left...

But unable to ground truth it, to confirm it with my own eyes, it remains phantasmic. Although I did manage to stare down towards the Cathedral, and yes there was no spire. As though someone had photoshopped it out, erased it, it seems so impossible. Is the entire event a piece of theatre? Will we sometime soon sail into the sky cloth like Truman Burbank? Suddenly it will be revealed that this was staged, like the moon landing? It is so traumatic, so spectral, so invasive, so evasive? At our homes there is no respite. Things here are profoundly abnormal. It is, as they say, business as unusual. The new normal. The defamiliarised, the strangely unbeautiful... where are the edges of such a thing?

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