Archive for July, 2006

Baghdad Burning is a blog that gets a lot of coverage, and has even been published in book form, but just in case anyone stumbles across my blog somehow and has never seen it, there was this post today.

It’s hard to imagine what it’s like when people around you get dragged out of their house and are shot in the street, when you’ve never heard people scream the way they must when it’s happening, when you’ve only heard the sound of guns on television and in films, when dead bodies in television and film are so briefly shown.

But I imagine that in real life, the sounds and the sights must be all the more unsettling for not resembling what you see and hear on the screen. Life almost seems like a poor imitation of the drama that occurs in entertainment. The sound of a gun is not so loud and dramatic, there’s no emotional soundtrack. A man or woman is dragged out in the street, quickly, in an undignified manner, their screams for mercy — if they’re not stunned into silence — desperate and clinging, and then there is the sound of the gun. If it’s a pistol, then it strikes you as more of pop than anything you’ve seen in films or on TV. “Is that all there is?” you ask yourself. And the screaming stops. The body twitches for a moment and goes limp. You turn away in disgust, or in fear, or in rage, but when you turn back, the body is still there. You try to comprehend that body, now so lifeless, which only yesterday said hello to you, or wept in despair, or laughed at a joke in spite of everything, or bargained for milk or eggs. All those little details that have been cut off from the body now, which lies awkward and even more undignified, half on the curb, half on the road. You turn away; you turn back again; but unlike in the film, it won’t go away. You don’t cut to the next scene. It all ends anti-climactically. Somebody should come and take the body away, you say, and eventually somebody does.

Am I making any sense? I don’t know. I’m grasping at something ineffable, something that escapes each time I try to describe it.

Riverbend’s friend T., passing by the house with news of his sister’s engagement, with talk of his plans. T.’s emails, how he clicked on SEND, not knowing what the next day held for him. I keep thinking about his sister, the family that cannot now rejoice in her engagement, of the plans that cannot be fulfilled, and of those emails — which seem grotesque now in their total ignorance of the coming death. Pictures of cats sent by a man whose body lies in the street, his face rendered unrecognisable by the bullets that killed him.

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