Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Membrane Pierced

Civilization is hideously fragile [and] there’s not much between us and the horrors underneath, just about a coat of varnish.
--C P Snow
Everyone by now is familiar with the stories of both heartbreaking heroism and the most appalling kind of opportunistic brutality that have come out of Katrina's aftermath. People under incredible stress do incredible things.

I'm reminded of THE TRIGGER EFFECT, David Koepp's 1996 thriller about how long it takes for civilized Angelenos to go completely paranoid batshit survivalist when the power, radio, and phones inexplicably go out. Not long.

The movie is an homage to the Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," which also dealt with what happens to people when our culture's social veneer gets eaten away. The theme winds its way through our storytelling tradition from LORD OF THE FLIES to the disaster movies of the 1970s to LOST.

The questions all these stories ask: say it was you who had the rug of your life pulled out from under your feet.

What would you do?

More to the point, if you live in an at-risk area -- mine's the seismic tinderbox that is the San Andreas Fault -- what will you do?

1 comment:

Scott the Reader said...

It always bothered me that people can so often condemn decisions that people make, whether it is "looting" in a survival situation, or maybe giving in to the temptation to deal drugs to try to get a better life for your family.

I'm not advocating crime, but so often it just isn't that easy to condemn from afar, when if we were in that situation we might make the same choices. As much as we may be afraid to face it, most behavior is based on the same human urges that everyone has, which can become magnified in certain situations, and too often it is easy to overlook the poverty or drive to survive that can make these choices more than viable.