Surfing the Spectacle

As If We Count


One, two, three, four.

At some point, things change.

At some point, that which is obvious and obscene to some, becomes obvious and obscene to most.

At some point. Until then, we just count the dead. If we count them at all.

Five, six, seven, eight. American soldiers seem to die quietly. A man in Washington with his hand cupped to his ear doesn’t hear an explosion eight thousand miles away. Dead soldiers are just names we read in the newspaper.

If we read their names at all.

And Iraqi civilians? Some experts estimates 50,000 have perished since the start of this war. Others argue this number is wildly low, and that the number of civilian dead should be set closer to 150,000 or 300,000 or perhaps 600,000.


Who were these people?

We don’t know. We don’t want to know.

Nine, ten, eleven, twelve……

[The illustration is by Raymond Pettibon. The photo is by Lucian Read.]

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