Reading The Pictures: Routine Horror


If you carefully follow the stream of Iraq war images in the MSM, you can pick out shifts in tone or subject matter that offer their own insights into the situation "on the ground."

This image, accompanying a tragically "common" article in the NYT last week about more killings in Iraq, might not seem that distinctive. Still, I found it particular.

Lately, corresponding with the escalation in horror, mainstream media has grown more liberal about depicting corpses. So, what exactly is so distinctive about this picture?

It's how profoundly mundane it happens to be.

Other photos show how raw things in Baghdad have become. This does that too, but in the context of hollowed out every-day trauma. What does it take for a police force to transport bodies around in an open flat bed without blankets or even a tarp, the way someone might cart pieces of lumber or plumbing supplies?

It involves three things: an unremitting state of shock; a numbing level of depersonalization (probably why the photographer reveals no face -- living or dead); and almost unendurable subjection to the routine.

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(image: Mahmoud Raouf/Reuters. Eastern Baghdad. May 4, 2006.