LARGE IMAGE OPENS IN A NEW WINDOW
Above is a foreign visitor's view of the intersection at the junction of High, Hereford and Colombo Streets. Photographed on a Saturday night, when it's despoiled with litter and drunken vomit, the immediate precinct has recently undergone an extensive makeover, which includes a $250,000 kitsch representation of a Wheatsheaf (below).
Photo credit: top pic is by Peter Ulrich, a Web designer from Berlin.
I love how the blue light from the under seat lighting makes it appear as though a forensic investigation is underway - urban forensics encompassing the whole gamut of bodily fluids.
There is something lacking in Christchurchs civic attitude - no amount of repaving, clusters of bits of metal or coloured lighting will never make this area appear as though the general public have a stake in it. I always found it rather crowded - not with people, but with other urban fixtures - now made worse but an almost wholesale removal of the urban playgournd that it should be - sit here, not there, drink here not there, walk here not there, and in this direction not that direction.... look here at an overscaled 'thing', identify an important point being made, nod and walk on.....
If there's anything to be learned from history, it is, that in the broader time scale and in spite of our conceits, all civilisations are little more than straws in the wind. They evidence organic qualities in that that they germinate, grow to maturity, bear fruit in the form of high culture and then wither into decay. As Benjamin Franklyn observed "Great empires like great cakes are most easily diminished at the edges," and at few places would that seem more self-evident than upon western civilisation's remotest frontier.
Social fragmentation is an inevitable symptom of a reversion to barbarism, that vigorous trunk from which the delicate bloom of high culture briefly flowers, which in the case of Christchurch would appear to have been in the two decades from 1930. The progress of cultural decline appears to have gained greater momentum in recent decades as social organisations such as religions and unions, etc. have waned into insignificance.
The immoderate use of psychotropic drugs (including alcohol) for recreational purposes facilitates an escape from the unacceptable realities of every day life. Thus what's happening on weekend evenings in Christchurch is symptomatic of a cynical rejection of our received social values, now only shared by those with significantly more yesterdays than tomorrows.
History confirms that the naïve assumption that repressive authoritarianism can do more than just supress the symptoms of social decay has never worked. There are no convenient answers to Christchurch's current social problems, just more authoritarian repression, political posturing and media hype along the route to the inevitable.
But cheer up, upon the best information currently available, one can reasonably assume that the location pictured above will be well below sea level by the end of this century, New Zealand will then have a population of around 80 million and our political masters will have quite a different set of problems to contend with. But in the meantime one can choose to view life as either a comedy or a tragedy - the emporer Nero is said to have played upon his fiddle while Rome burned...