This live feed of oil belching into the Gulf is currently one of the most “popular” on the Web.
I can see why. It has the horrible fascination of obscenity — a kind of never-ending money shot. The relentless, black, viscous gush into the Virgin-Mary blue of the floodlit water makes for an almost perfect visual metaphor of evil:
Yes, I am aware that ‘evil’ is a religious term. How can a proud agnostic use such a word? I trust my guts. As I look at this, I am sickened. The feeling starts in my throat, travels down to the pit of my stomach, then makes its way up again into my throat, leaving me with such a deep disgust that I feel dirty, degraded.
I think this visceral reaction is simply a human response to evil. You don’t need religious, satanic formulations to recognize evil when you stare it in the face. If you doubt that evil, the NYT today reported on an internal BP document which makes it clear that though there was a better way to secure the mile-deep well, BP chose a riskier and less effective way as “the best economic case.” In the name of the Father Profit, that is.
But then I may be wrong. Perhaps the popularity of this feed is simply due to the desperate hope to see it stop. Or to the fascination with the pornography of oil-drilling language — “junk shots” and “top kills.” Or to the gruesome obsession with disaster, as with the endless replaying of the space shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986. Then the pretty patterns were white on sky blue; now they’re black on water blue. Either way, they’re obscene.