Tuesday, 25 November 2014

It All Fits

Purely formal resemblances don't explain much, except in a pre-scientific, mediaeval-metaphorical sort of way (you know the sort of thing -- walnuts resemble brains, and must therefore be good for brains in some way) but, faced with these two photographs, I find I can't deny the satisfying way the luminous wedge-shaped hollow beneath the motorway bridge at Hockley echoes the illuminated brick wedge formed by the arches of the Hockley Viaduct on the other side of the road, forming the two components of a dovetail joint.  It doesn't mean anything, but is very pleasing.

Obviously, I didn't see this correspondence at the time I took the photos, about five minutes apart.  In fact, I didn't see it at all until I put one image above the other in the process of drafting this post, which was originally going to be about the rise of UKIP, and how regrettable it was that no-one would ever risk their neck to climb up under there -- thirty feet above the river Itchen and three feet below the thunder of heavy traffic -- to scrawl "VOTE LABOUR" (we'll ignore the various other graffiti...).

But the dovetail match looked so obvious and intended, that I felt obliged to explain that it wasn't. Although, on second thoughts, false correllations -- one unrelated thing appearing to cause or explain another -- may not be so far off the UKIP mark, after all.  It is exactly the kind of magical thinking that is the stock-in-trade of all populist politics.

The regret remains, however.  Yes, it's a bloody silly place for a slogan, and, yes, it was probably put there by a 14-year-old.  Hardly anyone will see it, and most of those who do will disapprove or sneer.  When it comes to publicity, the major parties would settle for nothing less than a banner page in a national daily paper, paid for by contributions from wealthy supporters.  And therein lies the entire problem.  Politics is about joining the raw "grassroots" energy of a kid with a piece of chalk seamlessly to the glossy superstructure of governance.  When the two halves of that joint lie on opposite sides of the road, you've got a structural problem that is not merely metaphorical.

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