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Terreson Profile
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Hurricane Gustav II


I am having difficulty finding the right approach to Gustav's human half, as I call it. My notes are failing me. Queerly enough a descriptive chronicle of events is looking too abstract, not getting to what is essential. So what is essential?

You walk around as if fity extra pounds have been strapped to your legs.

Neighborhood houses crushed and split in two do not look real. They look like doll houses beneath the incredible weight of giant trees.

For three days at least and sometimes longer, it was longer after Katrina, there is a a hush or a pall or a suspension hanging over a city. Relief efforts are still getting mobilized and everyone is waiting for some forward motion to return. I woke up Tuesday morning and I heard myself say, 'man, you got to do something.' This is what you come to. That you have to make yourself do something, anything to regain some sort of forward motion.

Nights are black in the city. Gradually, night by night, quadrants of night sky reflect light as slowly the power grid comes back on.

Your first hot meal, mine came Wednesday night, has a relish to it of extraordianry flavors you know you've never tasted before.

Doors are open through out the city and windows. And day and night you hear radio chatter. And you forget about national and international news. You listen only to the calls coming in and the reports signaling both how bad is the damage and how gradually food and ice and water and gas are coming back in. People stranded in their houses surrounded by the flash floods. Nursing homes without power and without windows that can be opened, and the bed ridden who cannot be moved. Reports of hospitals having reached capacity, unable to admit more patients. Those people and places with portable generators offering help. The long lines at the supermarkets reaching out the doors and down the sidewalks.

Then there is this human side to the aftermath. Strangers talk to each other and neighbors meet. People get stripped down with no conceits to entertain, the well heeled and the poor alike. After two days there are the neighbor gatherings and the communal efforts to make a meal or clear a path between the debris piles getting made. There is also fear in the voices you hear and it is palpable. There is nervousness too. And it is palpable.

People are told to stay home. But the streets and roads, all without traffic lights, are clogged with people who can't make themselves stay home, who have to roam. Curfew is declared and every black night is a nervous night. The intermittent gun shots. The constant sirens, far and near.

I suppose this is something of the human side, and it all becomes a swirl, with no discrete temporality. I've heard that my city suffered the worst wind damage since the record keeping began. I suppose it is because Gustav smashed into a densely populated urban area. Over a month later and the clean up continues. Following Gustav when Ike swung by there was much dread throughout the state and a measure of guilty relief when it was certain that the storm's path was to the west. Guilty relief too is part of the human side.

Tere
Oct/4/2008, 2:48 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Dragon59 Profile
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Re: Hurricane Gustav II


Neil Gaiman once wrote: "There is no big apocalypse, only an endless succession of little ones." That's what came to mind.

I'm not sure how to respond to any of this. It's heartrending and gutsy stuff, it's not reportage but journal glimpses into the aftermath of the end of the world, at least locally. It's no wonder some people flee and don't return. What can one add to this? It's too big to respond to.

Your comment about fifty pounds being strapped to each leg feels exactly correct. I feel that way a lot of the time, lately, in the aftermath of the end and beginning of my own world. It's hard to get up momentum to run, or even walk fast, when you feel so dragged down. But you have to, to escape, to get out, even if you come back. I have to force myself to go out every day, sometimes.

I don't know if I can contribute. In one way my entire Road Journal could fit into this category of writing; that's too big to excerpt here, and I can usually only write it out once. In another way, I'm not very good at sketching in words; although I sketch in other media. It often feels too raw, too personal, without a little bit of editing; when I spew, I spew, but no one ever sees that stuff in its "field notes" state but me.

I hope others contribute, though.


Last edited by Dragon59, Oct/5/2008, 9:41 am


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Oct/5/2008, 9:39 am Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Hurricane Gustav II


Actually, Dragonman, you are better at the journal and reportage than you give yourself credit for. From time to time I have read portions of your road journal, your Florida entries especially. I was struck by what I call, and borrowing from Kenneth Clark, a certain detached involvement to your entries: the involvement in the immediate moment accented by the detachment of an onlooker.

Anyway, your blog probably serves a better purpose for what you report on. If you feel like it maybe, from time to time, you could link the board to something that particularly strikes you.

By the way, I have been looking for some sort of narrative of your time spent at the Burning Man festival. I am curious about it and about how you responded to it all. Am I missing it?

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Oct/5/2008, 3:22 pm
Oct/5/2008, 2:18 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Hurricane Gustav II


I ended up not going to Burning Man. Long story. I've written it all out, actually, but it's in the handwritten journal, and I haven't transcribed it yet. I'm actually about two months behind at this point. *sigh*

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Oct/5/2008, 11:27 pm Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
dmehl808 Profile
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Re: Hurricane Gustav II


Yes, as Art says, it is gutsy stuff. Aporia is a rhetorical device in which one says, I don't know how to say this, but then they say it. But in your case the rhetoric is really failing you, and that says a lot about this kind of thing.

I remember that after Katrina, it was widely reported that racial tension and class were thrown into higher relief instead of relaxed and lessened. I'm sure that's always going to happen, but it's nice to hear in your account of Gustav that sometimes these kinds of disasters level and bring people together no matter their economic status, race or level of income. I'm guessing those that can afford to flee do, unless they get caught by surprise. And then it's a matter of humanity rather than distinctives and specifics about who is or owns what. This is fascinating reading--you're inability to put it into words not merely as affectation or rhetoric speaks volumes, Tere. This stuff should find a wider audience. Sounds like war reporting.
Nov/23/2008, 11:31 am Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Hurricane Gustav II


Thanks again, Dave. This is the first time I've reread the note since writing it. The speechlessness is damn near palpable, isn't it? So much so it looks to me to be a poor specimen of writing. But I didn't want to falsify the moment(s) through description and other devices. So it is what it is.

The reports about Katrina world are true. There was a measurable difference of degrees between impact of the two storms. N.O. had no police, no firemen, no City Hall. Streets were passable only by boat. Bodies floated by. The water smelled of sewage. While B.R. was hard pressed last September, there was still a core organization, civicly speaking, and a central authority in place.

On the first Gustav thread I mention Antonin Artaud. He wrote an imaginative account of what happened when the Black Plague came rolling through Europe. He focuses on an Italian town. He describes the complete breakdown of a community and its effects on individuals. Mothers and sons strangers to each other. Fathers raping daughters. Friends closing their doors on friends who need help.

We tend to forget just how tenuous Apollonian order is. We tend to forget how thin is the skin of civility. This was Artaud's point. It was even his starting point in his theories on theater. Like I say. It is all a matter of degree.


Tere
Nov/23/2008, 2:03 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Dragon59 Profile
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Re: Hurricane Gustav II


Continuing with the good thoughts. It's going to take a long time before people recover from this disaster, if they ever do. Some will, others won't.

As a sidebar, since it came up here first, I am approaching that point in transcribing my journal into the Road Journal where I get into why I ended up not going to Burning Man. I'll post it, if anyone's still interested.

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Nov/24/2008, 11:14 am Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Hurricane Gustav II


You bet I am interested! And make it its own thread.

Tere
Nov/24/2008, 8:47 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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