meretal

Intro, Preface | MEmorial

In MEmorial on 25 January 2011 at 8:44 am

ulmer //

All the concerns about the decline of the public sphere or the destruction of civic life caused by the society of the spectacle are focused by the question of commemoration: how a collectivity remembers who or what it is. (xxi)

links //

May 20: Costeau on the Oil Spill [AOLnews.com]

Of course we should be alarmed, but the present hysteria angers me. How many times must we be surprised by the latest catastrophe? Will only a Doomsday event motivate us? It is crystal clear to me that we need to look at our attitudes and make fundamental changes. Crisis management is no management at all. Crises are absolutely inevitable if we continue to ignore the fact that nature is far more complex and unpredictable than we can imagine.

We all know that for now, we must stop the leak, clean up the mess, monitor the impacts, stay calm and stick to the facts. We need to take care of the thousands and thousands of people whose lives are being destroyed in a domino effect, and make sure the people who were incompetent are held responsible economically and politically.

October 19: Environmentalist Jean-Michel Costeau making a documentary about the Gulf Oil Spill. [Phoenix New Times]

October 15: Bronze statue honoring Oil Spill workers [bakersfield.com]

memorial

October 20: Gulf Oil Spill triggers heightened attention to the West Kern Oil Museum in California. Oildorado President Cooper: “All the comments have been positive. The buzz has been great. We’ll regroup this week and look forward to an even bigger weekend.” [Bakersfield.com]

Taft and its Oildorado celebration got plenty of primer when the Gulf oil spill triggered a landslide of media interest in the Lakeview Gusher, which occurred a hundred years ago and was the nation’s biggest oil spill.

From the Oildorado website:

Oildorado Celebrates 100 Years!

The 10 days of Oildorado commemorate Taft’s 100 years as an incorporated city with a celebration that takes everyone back to a time when rugged pioneers carved out a bustling community in the middle of one of the world’s most productive oil fields. Planned and staged by the non-profit Oildorado, Inc., the celebration is packed with activities aimed at saluting those pioneers. There is something for everyone: the biggest parade in Kern County, dedication of oil worker monument, entertainment, oil field skills contests, queen pageant, melodrama, petroleum industry trade show, dances, barbecues, car show, vintage aircraft fly-in, carnival, casino night, dinner theater and much more.

Terry Tempest reflects on the disaster [grist.org]:

Oil for as far as I could see, as wide as I could see from “the source,” where the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded killing 11 men.

We saw rivers of oil as wide as the Mississippi itself. When the press, alongside President Obama’s administration and BP said it was largely gone, oil remained.

Five million barrels of crude oil does not just disappear. The oil is not gone. The people are not gone. It will be years before we know the truth of this very dark story.

thoughts //

orality: collectivity
writing: individuality

To see the electrate shift towards individuality, one only has to compare the BP oil spill (my artifact) to oil spills of the past.

In March 1910, the Lakeview Oil Gusher became the largest oil spill in history (pre-Deepwater Horizon), spilling 9 million barrels of oil over 18 months.

While the Lakeview Oil Gusher is remembered in museums and bronze statues, a collective memorial, the BP Oil Spill will instead be remembered through harbored resentment and the denial of the BP product amidst empty fuel tanks–the individual choice to boycott a company gone wrong.

While the BP event is no longer listed in headlines or remembered in the collectivity-at-large (the media), the stroke of anger towards a company driven by greed and irresponsible enterprise is nevertheless stigmatized in the hearts of individuals. As writer Terry Tempest reflects (grist.org):

Five million barrels of crude oil does not just disappear. The oil is not gone. The people are not gone. It will be years before we know the truth of this very dark story.

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