December 1, 2012

Hear No Evil, Sea No Evil

There is the sheer oddity of these news photos of an algae bloom on Australia’s northern coast. Then, there is the timing of them as the digital public square attunes right now to freak weather and environmental anomalies and the relationship to human behavior.

You can find different versions of this electrifyingly chromatic slide show bait, but these two images struck me most.  In a visual riff on “hear no evil, see no evil,”  each spoke to me about the problematic relationship between nature gone awry and human nature being all too predictable. In the first photo, you see the person swimming almost unconsciously toward the bloom, symbolic (at least to me) of man’s ignorance as he/she navigates headlong into trouble.

The photo of the guy swimming in the pristine pool, on the other hand, seems more indicative of denial — or privileged negligence. I’m thinking here of the mindset that goes: “as long as I’m safe, let someone else worry.” Or worse (not to say it’s a private pool, but…), what about those citizens with more money than conscience who simply accept that security and pleasure is going to cost them a little more?

(photo 1: William West/AFP caption: A swimmer heads toward a red algae bloom Tuesday at Clovelly Beach. The algae bloom along vast stretches of Australia’s southeastern coastline has resulted in beach closures. photo 2: Newspix via Zuma caption: A man swims undisturbed by a red algae bloom in the waters of Sydney, Australia, on Nov. 27.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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