Moaning on a Ruin

I am thinking on what I’ve seen and heard at the East Asia Arquitectural Culture (EAAC) conference I’ve just attended in Hong Kong. Meanwhile I wanted to post this discovery from Cat Power’s last record Sun. The song “Ruin” presented the album with a more than clumsy video of her grafitting the word “Ruin” on a wall. More interesting-if that is the word-are the lyrics, in which she tells us that she’s traveled to a lot of places to find just the same moral malaise,  realizing that we are all “sitting on a ruin”. Poor ruins, that they get so badly treated…

PS. Have a great holiday!

Cat Power, “Ruin”

I’ve seen gypsies who made it all the way
And kept going, kept rolling with nowhere to go
Nowhere to go.

As far as I’ve seen from the bush
In the wilderness, to every known city
I’ve been to Saudi Arabia, Dhaka, Calcutta
Soweto, Mozambique, Istanbul, Rio, Rome
Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Taiwan, Great Britain
Belfast, to the desert, Spain, Tokio
Some little bitty island in the middle of the Pacific
All the way back home, to my town
To my town
Bitching, complaining when some ṗeople who ain’t got shit to eat
Bitching, moaning, so many people you know they got

What are we doing?
We’re sitting on a ruin
What are we doing?
We’re sitting on a ruin

Follow up: I was reading these days Julia Hell’s chapter on the edited volume Ruins of Modernity, which nonewithstanding the problems of the book (aptly commented by Bradley Garret in his review for Environment and Planning), is an inspiring read. In her piece on ‘imperial ruin gazers’ Hell unpacks a figure which we can probably find in the back of Cat Power’s imaginary, that of the character (a colonial traveler) on top of a ruin, the ruin as a place for reflection and lament (and not, as it is for many of us, a space that has loosened and becomes really fun).

Detail of Doré's New Zealander, 1872

Detail of Doré’s New Zealander, 1872

Famously, Comte de Volney reflected at Palmyra,  “Who knows if on the banks of the Seine, the Thames, who knows if some traveller like myself, shall not one day sit on their silent ruins, and weep in solitude over…the memory of their former greatness.” Cat Power detects the onanistic element in this reflections atop a ruin, and equates to a useless, narcissictic, and ultimatelly unfair “Bitching, complaining”.

PD. For Spanish readers: are Cat Power and Maika Makovski sisters?


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