There are certain things in the world I don’t understand: whether Velveeta is a food or spackling material, why millipedes have to exist, why I always seem to end the day with $20 less in my wallet than I began with but have nothing to show for the loss, and so on.
I also don’t understand Western complacency towards global inequality. Every person that is born, anywhere in the world, might be the person that cures cancer, AIDS, writes a new theory of international relations, transforms the United Nations, figures out how to slow or reverse global warming – any one of us humans might solve any of these terrifying, global problems. That we limit the population of people who have adequate eucation, not to mention food and water and roads and clothes and voting rights and safe passage and electricity, to even attempt to solve any of these problems shoots us all in the foot. Maybe my cold meds are getting to me, but every now and again it hits me that the biggest resource we waste is each other. This is what this song by the British band Alt-J makes me think of.
Alt-J wrote the song about Robert Capa, the Hungarian photojournalist and war photographer, and Gerta Pohorylle, otherwise known as Gerta Taro, who was his companion and professional partner. Taro was one of the first female photojournalists to work on the front lines of war, and died during a road accident while covering the Battle of Brunete during the Spanish Civil War. Capa died during the first Indochina War after he left his Jeep and stepped on a landmine.
To photo, to record meat lumps and war
They advance as does his chance, very yellow white flash
A violent wrench grips mass, rips light, tears limbs like rags
Mine is a watery pit painless with immense distance
From medic from colleague, friend, enemy, foe
Him five yards from his leg, from you, Taro
All colors and cares glaze to gray, shriveled and stricken to dots
Left hand grasps what the body grasps not, le photographe est mort
Doors open like arms my love, painless with a great closeness
To Capa, to Capa, Capa dark after nothing, re-united with his leg
And with you, Taro