Friday, April 25, 2014

Evanston: the consolation of water

As she squatted at the end of the wharf, as far from the city as possible, waiting for the others to return, an ocean swell lapped at the pilings and Mai understood the consolation of water.

        You of course recognize that from shadows.  Well, perhaps not.
        I thought of it while reading a fine article in the May issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC about the River Seine in Paris.
        Among the craft on the river is the ADAMANT, a floating psychiatric clinic launched four years ago.

        From the first day aggression evaporated.  Why?  No one can explain, clinic director Jean-Paul Hazan says.
        “Perhaps,” suggests Jacqueline Simonnet, the head nurse, “it’s the rocking of the boat.”
        “These are very sick patients,” Hazan says, “but there has been no violence.”  He pauses, “I think it’s changed us too, but I can’t say how.”
        The layout is open.  The space ‘fluide’.  Glass erases the divide between inside and out.
        It also, metaphorically at least, blurs the boundary between ‘them’ and ‘us’—between the mentally ill and the presumably normal.  “We’re all in the same boat,” GĂ©rard Ronzatti, the architect who designed the ADAMANT, told me.

       You and I already knew the power of water.  And that, if not in the same boat, then swimmers together.