Wednesday, 20 April 2011

All Around You

CCTV has changed over the years.  Today they stalk the ordinary person, following him through the streets, keeping an eye on the fancy property, to ensure the wealth and privilege, that towers all around her, is given the respect it deserves.  Be good.  Be peaceful.  And above all be law-abiding, they quietly remind us; and gracefully accept, they insist, the robberies of the rich; who use those same laws to steal from the public purse.  The cameras watch, and they keep her to the centre of the pavement; far away from the barricades in the middle of the road.  Revolution is only for thugs and lunatics their pictures tell us; and as we can see for ourselves all too clearly on the evening news.  Though sometimes they record the strangest things; and we watch as young men smash up the Ritz, while police officers stand aside

They were more powerful in the 17th century, though their reach was narrower.  Then they were made of magic and true divinity; and had all the deterrence of a mighty god:

…although the awe-inspiring screen in the great hall, depicting the heavenly hierarchy, was placed there to demonstrate the owner’s wealth, status and piety, the holy figures were also “useful overseers, to monitor the behaviour of members of the household, engaged in everyday activities.”  (Keith Thomas reviewing Tara Hamling’s Decorating the “Godly” Household, TLS 08/04/2011)

Today it is only humans who are watching us.  And today we are the images; just one more vehicle in a human traffic jam…  

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