Not a head does not turn towards the destruction, drawn by the brutal symphony of sound, held rapt by the morbid visual. Everyone sees some part of the meticulously planned yet seemingly barbaric disassembly, almost walking into one another as they crane their necks. Children, the most vocal of us about their fascination with destruction, yet to learn the shame of it, point and exclaim; their parents use them as an excuse to openly marvel themselves. We neither lament the loss of what once was an eyesore, nor rejoice at the void replacing it, or the prospect of what may be. We simply watch, in wonder.
We watch and we stare, curious and fascinated in spite of ourselves, yet lack the humanity to catch a beggar’s eye, and do no more than sneak glances at a passing street performer clad and painted in gold. We might pass by a sobbing girl without a second thought, or pretend not to see the wheelchair carrying the demented man arguing with his carer. So many things we avert our gaze from, but we do not even try to hide our fixation on this destruction.
Even in bringing ourselves face to face with it, we do not see those responsible for such destruction, nor those impacted by it. We do not see the months and years of design, planning, labour and maintenance, all wiped out in a manner of hours and days. We unconsciously refuse to see their faces in the now open face of the building. We do not want to see; we crave only the destruction itself.
Even the act of destruction has been dehumanised, the only human presence on site implied but unseen. Instead, a mechanical arm, the horrific personified symbol of everything by which we are now so mesmerised, so grossly destructive that we can almost fool ourselves that it acts of its own accord. Walls, built solid to protect, tumble in pitiful pieces to the ground, the unprotected victim. We watch just as they stood—cold and unfeeling, outwardly unmoved by such a heartless act.
In the midst of destruction, though, we find much has been created. A spectacle; an opportunity; a lesson to be learned. We somehow find beauty in this thing so resembling death. Is this what draws us to it? Is this what we are seeking so avidly amongst the wreckage? We may not all of us deem it worth our while to visit a gallery or museum, but we have all found something to admire here on the street—the creation of destruction—and, though we may lack the right words to critique, we know it has impressed us.
To admit a love for destruction would seem to some a declaration of insanity or a thirst for anarchy, yet perhaps it is not as morbid as it seems. Perhaps our obsession with destruction is an expression of our regret, of our desire to ourselves destroy. But we can never completely destroy anything. We cannot destroy the memories of those who knew what once stood, or those who witnessed the destruction. We cannot pretend we did not see.
We can always build again.