These are the two most striking images I found in the immediate aftermath of the bombings in London.
I don’t mean to disrespect the shock, loss or gravity of this event by being interpretive. I do feel, however, that images are presented to us and resonate with us that we can use collectively to process, cope with, and better understand what has happened.
The subway image contains elements I find painfully truthful. For example, it highlights the profound anonymity of these kinds of disasters — whether talking of victims or perpetrators. That we are literally in an underworld makes darkness and death that much more palpable. Also, as I stare at the far light, I can conjure my own slight taste of the anxiety and the stubborn (yet intermittent) paranoia spawned by these events. I wonder, is this the escape route ("the light at the end of that tunnel") or an oncoming train?
I haven’t put as much thought to the second shot — except to conclude that it is also quite truthful. These leaders are so imbued by the tragedy they don’t have their "public" faces on. I am really taken with the sadness of Chirac. It’s no time to take swipes, but I really feel that Bush doesn’t knows where to take himself. (In a situation such as this, his normal M.O. is to fly into action — as opposed to feel.) Also, I’m proud of Tony Blair. I know he has his weaknesses — we all do. Still, he steps forward naturally (not just because he’s the host, or his land is the "host victim"). Whereas the others are turned almost completely inward, Blair embraces the shock and pain, but still manages to offer himself near completely.
(image 1: Alexander Chadwick/AP in nyt.com. image 2: Charlie Bibby/Pool photo in nyt.com. Both July 7, 2005)