Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I have not heard much from the Chilean miners of late. But maybe it's me. Only when not looking for something is it everywhere, and I have been looking.

Last I heard the miners had hired a lawyer. Their agreement was to split everything equally. I wonder if this is at the root of their silence: how the decision to share in the riches (book deals, movie deals, endorsements, etc.) applies to the process by which those things are negotiated.

A week ago I saw an image of one of the miners in a suit. He looked like every other man who does not wear a suit to work. Nor did he have the glow of the man who emerged from that mine. Recall the scene in Antonioni's Blow Up (1966), after Jeff Beck tosses his malfunctioning guitar into the audience and David Hemmings grabs it and is chased outside, how meaningless the guitar is once removed from its context.

Something else I heard was that the miners have agreed not to talk about their first week in the collapsed mine. What happened down there that no one wants to talk about? Years ago I read an ethnography about Bolivian tin miners called We Eat the Mines and the Mines Eat Us by June Nash. In it she talked about the lighting of the dynamite fuses, how in waiting for the explosion some miners were so overcome with anxiety that they pulled out their wick knives and castrated themselves.

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