September 17, 2005

A Little Separation



Time races, and then time slows down and you recollect.

On the morning of September 1st, I clearly remember the shocking headline at the top of the NYT website reporting a catastrophe on a bridge in Kadhimiya, outside Baghdad.  Almost 1,000 Shiite pilgrims had died in a stampede started by rumors of an imminent suicide bomb attack.  This awareness was a fleeting one, however, overshadowed by the overwhelming drive to absorb everything and anything about the expanding Katrina crisis.

The way the mind works, we are constantly processing separate types of information at the same time.  As a result, past events are usually recalled according to different kinds of experience, including emotions, thoughts, senses, and even physical postures we held at a particular moment.

Going back to the 1st, I can recall what I was thinking, where and how I was sitting, and what I was feeling at the point I was feverishly absorbing Katrina information, and then “cut over” to seek out available pictures from the Kadhimiya disaster.

Visually, I definitely recall the Imams Bridge — the spot where the pilgrims were trampled or jumped to their deaths.  At the same time, however, my head was so full of hurricane pictures, my visual memory is more a combination of elements defined by water, more water, bridges and highways.  In terms of thought, I remember that this Kadhimiya photo mixed just a little too easily with the scenes from the Gulf Coast.

There has been such a continuity to catastrophe lately, it has acquired an almost numbingly steady rhythm.  I know the misery in Iraq failed to pause for our hurricane.  I’m just hoping the Gulf Coast will regains a bit of normalcy soon so I can separate the two again.

(image 1: Jason Reed/Reuters. New Orleans. September 1, 2005.  image 2: Thaler Al Sudani/Reuters.  Kadhimiya  WAPO photo gallery. September 1, 2005.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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