A Sunday Collage IX

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Maria was going to show another picture to the House subcommittee yesterday, this photo, which is a photo of a five year old child bathing in that kind of brown, poisonous water. The child is naked, as you normally are when you bathe. …

The photo was taken by photojournalist Katie Falkenberg, who gave it this caption:

Erica and Rully Urias must bathe their daughter, Makayla, age 5, in contaminated water that is the color of tea. Their water has been tested and contains high levels of arsenic. The family attributes this water problem primarily to the blasting which they believe has disrupted the water table and cracked the casing in their well, allowing seepage of heavy metals into their water, and also to the runoff from the mountaintop removal sites surrounding their home. The coal company that mines the land around their home has never admitted to causing this problem, but they do supply the family with bottled water for drinking and cooking. Contaminated and colored water in has occurred in other coalfield communities as well where mountaintop mining is practiced.

… Yesterday, on the other hand, Maria was told that she would not be allowed to show that photo. It was not appropriate. She had the blessing of the child’s parents, but Republicans on the subcommittee alerted the capitol police (according to Spencer Pederson, a spokesman for GOP panel members), and after the hearing, the capitol police took Maria aside for questioning about “child pornography.”

~Aaron Bady

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~Bureau of Public Secrets

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If money is a matter of possible futures, the book with the most to tell us about the present moment is one in which money hardly figures at all: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005), a novel that dispenses with a realist depiction of society as a theater of individual striving and instead shows that we live in a world where character, creativity, and love cannot save us. In this respect, Never Let Me Go, as Nancy Fraser has recently suggested in New Left Review, suggests a literature for the 99 percent. It follows three young people from a dreamy adolescence in what seems to be a privileged boarding school into a truncated adulthood that expires as they donate their organs to the barely glimpsed society that has created them—these children are clones—to exploit them. Their only assets are their very bodies, over which they have no control. It doesn’t take much of a leap to see in Ishiguro’s scenario the lifetimes of debt paying and service employment that await dreamy children at a time when college tuition swells at twice the rate of inflation. Gatsby’s green light is no longer an adequate symbol for our dreams. Ishiguro, in his novel’s last pages, supplies another: discarded plastic shopping bags, caught in barbed wire and the branches of trees, torn up and flapping in the breeze.

~Christian Lorentzen

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A Flickr group is aggregating photographs of ‘hidden mothers’ – 19th Century photo-portraits were challenging for sitters because of the low emulsion sensitivity and consequently lengthy exposure times. In the case of children, one stress-reducing device for keeping them still was to cloak mothers and disguise them as a support on or against which the child rested. Thus, we have this strange but somewhat haunting collection of images which presents a great example technology (in this case, its limitations) unwittingly commenting on cultural attitudes and mores.

~Sewanee: University of the South

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And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them the way he did. He was individual. He was an important man. I’ve never gotten over his death. Often I think what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands? He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.

~Ray Bradbury

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