If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Monday 1 April 2013
Read gnomica 1-250 here!
“Creativity is that marvelous capacity to grasp mutually distinct realities
and draw a spark from their juxtaposition.”
Max Ernst (2 Apr 1891 – 1 Apr 1976)
This morning’s front page of the mid-west print edition of The New York Times offers a striking illustration of the power of juxtaposition, and that illustration is powerful indeed (and is apparently not a cruel April Fool’s joke).
What first catches your eye is the header of the far left column. As you begin your scan for the latest outrages, you read that “Pay for Boards At Banks Soars Amid Cutbacks.” Leaping from the page is this observation in connection with Goldman Sachs: “Some of the firm’s 13 directors make more than $500,000 because they have extra responsibilities.” You remember Goldman Sachs, don’t you? Right! Yeah, that was one of those companies that were right in the thick of the mess a few years back that promoted the greatest financial meltdown since the Great Depression (cf., e.g., here, here and here). A lot of responsibilities there!
Now, for the juxtaposition of “distinct realities”!
Abutted against the top part of that piece is a large photo (above an article titled “Painful Payment for Afghan Debt: A daughter, 6”) of a gathering in a Kabul refugee camp. In the picture is an Afghan refugee family from Helmand Province with a six-year old girl named Naghma in a bright red dress who “will be forced to leave her family’s home forever to be married to” the 17-years old son of a man who had lent Naghma’s father $2,500 to pay for medical care for his family – and that the father is now unable to repay. Get it? A six-year old girl “who does not know what is shortly going to happen” to her is a human payment with a value of $2,500.
Now, if that ‘transaction’ all by itself were not sufficient unto itself for arousing the outrage needed to note that difficile est saturam non scribere I for one don’t know what kind of infuriating obscenity would be.
All of this of course ‘works’ in no small part because “the Afghan government makes little attempt in the camps to enforce laws protecting women and children.” This is the government whose self-righteously enraged president rants and raves at the United States for being in some kind of cabalistic cahoots with the Taliban to destabilize ‘his’ country. Yes, that is the country where American ‘nation-building’ has squandered many trillions of dollars ‘borrowed’ from other nations, where American delusions about democratizing what seems to resemble a medieval culture have sacrificed thousands of American lives, where American hubris has created legions of walking woundeds both over there and here at home who are trying to put their lives together again.
Yes, America (= the nation’s young and your taxes and mine!) has done that for that country so that 6-year old girls can in effect be assessed a value of $2,500 and ‘sold’ for the settlement of debts! After all, as the ‘elders’ in the camp noted, “the resolution was a good one.” Yeah! Really good!
Here’s a thought!
How about those “13 directors [at Goldman Sachs who] make more than $500,000 because they have extra responsibilities” dividing $2,500 by 13 and each contributing $192.31 to pay for Naghma – I mean, it’s true they wouldn’t get their $500,000 plus for all those extra responsibilities with which they are so onerously burdened but only $499,807.69 plus.
Well, what can you say, guys (and gals?): life’s just a really nasty bitch all over these days — for everybody!