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(32) Phairos

The man stood in a green circle. When you drew back you could see that the green circle lay in the centre of an Art Deco power station—a power station that was in complete ruins; it was blown out, reduced to a skeletal framework. Pull back further and the city itself became apparent. The city was burnt black, fires rose from every direction—a low wail pulsed over the city, the lament for the dead; it was as peculiar as the cry that emerges deep from a distressed dog’s throat, it comes from the other place—biologically speaking, the place that is activated when man is in acute distress.

Pull back further, now you can see the crater—now you can see the outline where the object struck. They used to call such places “ground zero”, though we have done away with the nomenclature now. Pull back further, now you can see the untouched greenery—the countryside, it cycles through as before; amid mass death or mass birth, it carries on. It never registers the decline and fall of civilisations—the fortunes of ministers, the glory of generals. The pedestrian defeats and victories found in air-conditioned offices.

Pull back further. Now you can hardly tell that the entire capital—some seven million souls, though their ensouled state was debatable—has been destroyed. The picture you see below you is worth a million, million, million words in the mass media—a decade’s drama, before another drama arrives. Pull back further. At the continental level, the black stain seems incidental—if you weren’t aware as to what it was it would hardly seem significant. Just a cigarette burn somewhere off Paris—nothing to worry about. Pull back further. Now you can see Africa too—and Russia; and now you begin to understand what “seven million souls” look like when considered, as they say, “in perspective”. Pull back further. And now you see half the planet—and I’m glad you got some perspective on this.


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