11 Oct

The photograph I’m looking at needs a caption. Without it, the average citizen of the po-mo zoo would probably think s/he was looking at Bagdad or Kabhul.  Mogadishu perhaps.

It’s a crop shot of several medium-storey structures built for industrial use sometime in the midst of the 20th century. The roof of the building in the foreground has collapsed partially. Transient metal and idle bits of wood lean about its exoskeleton like half-starved refugees who’ve given up on ever leaving the camp. Tires pepper the ground and lurk in nooks. No windows intact. Curtains sometimes, like the sails of a shipwreck.  

A bomb or earthquake? No. This is the Packard Motor Car Company’s plant. Detroit, Michigan.

The economic apocalypse of the city that has been the Paris of the West and the Arsenal of Democracy is demonstrated by other shots: cheap pre-fab office walls and nothing within them except the moss on the floor. This was once the headquarters of the firm established by Henry Ford.  Nearby another office which looks like combat correspondence. The desk slice across the frame at an an angle. This was a detective’s desk, police headquarters.

When did the Romans notice they were falling? Did the shock of Commodus after such a good stretch of peace, property and relative civil liberty alert them that they had passed their peak; now headed down? Probably not. After a relatively short turbulence another era of lasting stability ensued, not so much worse than the Golden Age. It would, I’d say, have taken a good hundred years before anyone really woke up.


“Cass Technical High School”, 2008-9
Andrew Moore

(No4corners.com: check it out.)


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