Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Thursday, February 19, 2004  

On Saturday, I saw a documentary called My Architect at the Portland International Film Fest (which is quietly becoming one of the better film fests in the country). It is a personal account of the architect Louis Kahn, made by his son Nathaniel. It's a great film, and I give it my highest recommendation, should the opportunity to see it in your city present itself. But this isn't a film review.

Rather, it's an inspiration that results from having seen the film: give the Iraqi Governing Council $200 million to build a parliamentary building.

The arc of the documentary concludes in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where Kahn created the plans for the massive capitol complex. It is a fantastically over-the-top building that took the same length of time to construct as the Taj Mahal--23 years. For the poorest country in the world, one composed mostly of rice paddies and swamps, such a building seems like an unconsciounable waste. Yet it is exactly the opposite. For Bangladeshis shown in the film, it is a symbol for what they want their country to be--for its aspirations, not its reality.

As Iraq progresses toward democracy, it will need independent, home-grown symbols of its own. Despite George Bush's pre-war calculations, democracy won't be imposed on Iraq. It will either come from Iraqis or it will fail. Having a new, post-Saddam symbol of what they are striving for would be a wonderful aid in developing that democracy. I know, it ain't gonna happen. I can dream...

posted by Jeff | 2:25 PM |
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