Saturday, April 28, 2007

Orbiting, untethered

Last night we watched The Conformist, Bernardo Bertolucci's 1970 movie about a disconnected man trying tragically and hopelessly to connect. He wants to connect to whatever society is in power, and unfortunately the one in power is the fascist society of 1930's Italy. The result of his choice is destructive and violent to himself and others. The story seems instructive of the Virginia Tech massacre, and generally about our desire to belong to a society that we know, in some part of our being, is corrupt and unsupportable. How hard it is to avoid wanting to be a part of respectable society, whether we're Huckleberry Finn, Colin Powell, George Tenet, or Marcello Clerici. Huckleberry made the heroic existential choice, the others could not. Clearly, it is much harder to act than to read about it in literature [duh!], or look at it in photographs. The literature and the photographs help us to understand. But understanding isn't enough.

This is a photograph of an astronaut's suit with camera and transmission equipment that was used by NASA as part of a student awareness project. No one is in the suit.