Signs of the times

A friend forwards a website-full of little displays showing simple and natural “crafts,” being made in some pleasant place. I “leaf” (i.e. ping) through them. Curiously, it was like going back to Bangkok for me, in the days of my childhood (centuries ago); when I was surrounded, everywhere, by talented natives making things, out of materials that just seemed to grow. The colours were of bamboo and teak, in this streetside intarsia.

An old friend, in Bangkok itself, has attached a few photos of the current high-rise glitz. But surely all these skyscrapers will sink into the mud, for the city was built on the water table, and liquifies in the monsoon. Street-level views reveal an environment much neater than the one that came before, thanks to universal paving. Intense commercialism easily prevails. The signs and all the buildings are advertisements. How to know if one is actually in Bangkok?

Today, of course, if one goes there, the making of complete things, as nearly everyone was once occupied in doing, has been obviated; except for one vendor of noodles I spotted. But everyone else must have a miserable job, in an office or factory or shopping mall, as in Communist China. For modernity has definitively arrived, and pasted its obscenity.