From an outside perspective and even in America before the campaign commenced, it always seemed obvious that Obama would win again. There was a sense that Mitt Romney wasn't enough of a challenger to oust him. But being there for the run-up to the election it became clear how the media machine makes it a contest. From a distance it is clear, but when you get up close, you're constantly being presented with two options which are offered as equally valid or possible. The media has a spot to spare for a credible challenger, and whether the nominee is credible or not, their occupation of that spot eventually makes them one.
On Wednesday we went to the very emotional Ground Zero memorial, which is still under construction. It's a really good memorial, I think, aptly (if unsubtly) named 'Reflecting Absence'. It's essentially two giant holes in the ground over the foundations of the former World Trade Center, into which rushes water, which then disappears into a central void. The use of negative space rather than a penetrative, upward-oriented monument is always good for loss, and the use of water of course evokes both tears and healing. Ringing each of the pools are metallic boards featuring the names of those who died in the September 11 and 1993 attacks, thankfully devoid of defacement or graffiti, and touchingly arranged in 'meaningful adjacencies' in response to requests from family and friends. The victims of each crashed flight and each building are displayed together, but each name is also placed near the names of close colleagues and friends, which I find really touching. Each name is also given a great deal of space, emphasising the humanity of each of them, and consequently the scale of the tragedy as you circumnavigate each pool and the list of names continues relentlessly on. Nothing like the war memorials with hundreds of names listed so closely together you can't even read them in depersonalised alphabetical order.
The west village
A comedy of salads