Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Phnom Penh

It's a crowded city, but there's not much to see unless you're looking for genocide. That comes by the bucket, with a side of torture.

At least the Cambodians are trying to remember, although the biggest complaint I heard from the generation that recalls it--and likely lost several family members because of it--is that the kids don't know this history. It's completely forgotten. And those who don't know history blah, blah blah...

Readers of the blog will recall the skyscraper of skulls that marks the Killing Field's most renown liquidation facility. It's 15k outside the city, so anyone who goes here exhibits a certain dedication to travel, not to mention history. The tone speaks for itself: people remove their shoes, speak in hushed voices and move delicately around the artifice. As a memorial, it's on par with The Wall or FDR in Washington (both best visited at night).

We debated the meaning of this. No smiling? No talking? No men?

It's moot once you read this.

The intestines of this converted school speak volumes. What were classrooms saw a quick and barely functional conversion to prison cells. For the Khmer, there was nothing like re-education prior to execution.

The weird part about it all--to me--is the number of soldiers who just went along with it. It's one thing to have a crackpot dictator, another thing completely to control an army that buys into your bizarre philosophy. Especially because they were torturing and executing their own countrymen. What is the psychology of that?

Fortunately, an artist preserved the worst of humanity for the record.

That would be waterboarding. I hear we do that to Pakistani cab drivers for no other reason than they look suspicious and they don't believe in Jesus, who's a fictional character anyway. Seriously, what the fuck?

No wonder the monks take on the dragon. Not that it helps. Prayer: how to accomplish absolutely nothing while feeling good about yourself.

I'm more interested in the natural world, which means the lizards are coming back. And they're hungry.