Care & Violence in the Apocalypse: Understanding Uncoverings

Care and violence are two words often viewed as diametrically opposed. A polarized binary often with moral attributions. When I first approached this paper, I was still thinking within this framework. Violence, the performance of waste that it is, is bad and conversely, care must be good. Having talked some of these thoughts out loud though, it became glaringly obvious that this binary, like most any binary, is not going to be able to contain the multitudes of complex situations that these ideological ultimatum frameworks claim to be universally suited to. Working within the binary makes one’s self an arbitrator who must judge situations one way or another, to declare it to be care or violence. Strangely enough, it was thinking about the realms of post-apocalyptic fiction that got me more interested in arbitrating and evaluating these shades of gray. 

Apocalypses find their origins in violence, usually. They are seen as cataclysmic, violent events, and the post-apocalyptic new worlds that exist following their tumultuous point of origin are generally portrayed as more violent than the ones that came before it. Even if not more violent per se, post-apocalyptic worlds and stories often uncover these tensions, emotions, and capabilities for violence; there is a claim that these violent instincts are being released simply because now they can be. Take for instance the discussion of straggler torture in Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, or the hundreds of “raiders” that players are meant to gun down without hesitation in video games like the Fallout franchise. The torture and humiliation inflicted on the stragglers by some Connecticut sweepers is contextualized as a productive outlet for one’s PASD (Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder); it was considered “occupational therapy” (Whitehead 102). These stories demonstrate that the worst capabilities of humanity are being made manifest because the pre-apocalyptic society is no longer containing them. Beyond the immense physical violence that apocalypses usually entail, the diasporic nature of these events is likewise emphasized, adding another layer of emotional violence and strain as people are separated from loved ones, support networks, and their geographical homes. However, the best post-apocalyptic stories do more than dwell in the realm of Hobbesian fanfiction, they demonstrate the physical and emotional resilience of humanity as well as emphasizing the importance of “caring” in a violent world. 

Post-apocalyptic survival is a prime example of the interconnected nature of care and violence. The recently released HBO show, The Last of Us, is a post-apocalyptic work that demonstrates the complex morality that arises with the focus on survival, it demonstrates the necessity of violence in survival, and shows how care can be contextualized through relationship prisms. Joel and Ellie, our protagonists, develop a chemistry and dynamic through their travels across a post-apocalyptic America together. On this journey they encounter Infected, zombie-analogous beings, their fellow humans, as well as environmental and medical factors that threaten their lives and require violence. As the audience, we see Joel and Ellie’s relationship progress, informed by their shared traumatic encounters as well as their wealth of interactions telling jokes, talking about the world before and each other’s lives, they begin caring more about each other and find kinship and family in this post-apocalyptic world that has previously taken theirs away. Both Ellie and Joel use violence to defend themselves and each other from a dangerous world. They do so in the name of care. Self-defense and self-preservation loom large in post-apocalyptic media and The Last of Us highlights how self-defense extends beyond ourselves and covers those we care about, our communities, and friends. 

In fact, while apocalyptic worlds are often viewed as materially and categorically worse than our own, etymologically these worlds may be more alike than they seem. The word “apocalypse” is derived from the ancient Greek word for “revelation”; breaking it down further into its two components, apo and kalyptein, an apocalypse can be understood as an “uncovering of what’s concealed”. The best post-apocalyptic media reflects this notion, often factoring in the violence that existed prior to the cataclysmic uncovering and tempering the dagger that “things were better before” with evidence that all was not well prior to the apocalypse. Ultimately, post-apocalyptic media encourages us to care in the face of cataclysmic violence, to do what we can (within reason) to survive and protect the ones we love, and to consider and stop the violence we inflict upon each other and our world, the apocalyptic pressure that will build up and demand release. 

Examining the role that both “memory” and “forgetting” play in post-apocalyptic media is fascinating for this very reason. Nostalgic notions of returning a world to its prior state clash with the realistic acknowledgments of past faults as well as the knowledge that the world can’t return, but can move forward. The Fallout series has a brilliant name for this rose-tinted nostalgia: “old world blues”. Numerous characters, factions, and groups in the Fallout universe hope to restore “the old world” (with all the ambiguity that exists within this term). The games do a lot of work in showing the horrid conditions of life before the nuclear war and demonstrate the role corporations, individuals, and institutions played in creating the post-apocalyptic landscapes the games take place in. The pre-apocalyptic faults and pressures are both remembered and forgotten in the Fallout games, revealing yet another binary which upon closer inspection contains multitudes. Understanding an apocalypse as an “uncovering”, there is nothing added to create them; it is the violent release of pre-existing pressures that can no longer be held in. In many cases, post-apocalyptic media is examining how we exert the violence of the apocalypse on ourselves by ignoring the apocalypse’s origin and likely contributing to the origin.

However, apocalypses are perhaps most famous for expressing that humanity is not alone in our ability to remember and forget. Ray Bradbury’s famous short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” is perhaps the most famous example of this in speculative fiction, and  portrays nature’s reclamation of the post-apocalyptic Martian landscape; it’s featured in The Martian Chronicles. This natural process, of the land remembering itself, is juxtaposed by the humming routines of the mindless mechanized drones who continue carrying out their programmed tasks. Colson Whitehead’s Zone One adds to this discussion when considering the role that stragglers play within the world. Not ravenous and relentless like their skel peers which they physically resemble, the stragglers and their appearance of memory is of much interest to many characters in the story. I say “appearance of memory” because it is unclear what semblance of memories these stragglers possess, only that they do possess something– some inkling to travel to a certain location or strike a certain stance– Whitehead writes: “The general theory contended that stragglers haunted what they knew (Whitehead 64)”. Another section describes the stragglers as “trapped in a snapshot of their lives” (101), trapped within a memory.  However, this position of being trapped is not universally assigned to them, the actions of the Fortune Teller, particularly the curl of her smile and the biting of Gary demonstrate that stragglers are not static, fixed, and trapped (284). Like the land remembering its shape, stragglers too possess memory even if in ways that can not be wholly understood. 

To look at a more metaphorical apocalypse, Shakespeare’s The Tempest offers a look at the interconnected nature of care and violence, particularly whilst examining the relationship between Prospero and Miranda. Not quite the world-wide uncovering we expect from a  traditional apocalypse, the lives in exile of Prospero and Miranda may still be understood as a personal apocalypse. Driven from their home in the court of Milan, Prospero and Miranda were pushed out by factional pressures and familial betrayal. Years of Prospero neglecting his stewardly duties in favor of his arcane studies created this tumultuous pressure; its apocalyptic uncovering occurred when Antonio, Prospero’s brother, usurped the throne of Milan and forced Prospero and Miranda into exile (Act I Scene II). Circling back to something said before, here we again see the diasporic nature of apocalypses. One could argue that in addition to shirking his duties as Duke, Prospero likewise demonstrated a lack of care for Miranda, repeatedly rebuking her for supposedly not listening, gaslighting and isolating her, and keeping her from the greater world. And yet Prospero is also positioned as the caring, protecting father who would do anything to keep Miranda safe in this dangerous post-betrayal world. 

In addition to literary works exploring apocalypses, these “uncoverings” cannot help but be contextualized in our own world. Much like how hurricanes and other cataclysms are used as literary devices to “wipe the slate clean”, apocalypses follow a similar form. This rhetoric likewise forms around real cataclysmic events like Hurricane Katrina and it’s hard to argue against the perception of Katrina as an apocalypse. The dreadful devastation and loss of life were not just apocalyptic in-scale, but in the sense of a true apocalypse, Katrina uncovered the many corrupt, inefficient, problematic, and unacceptable pressures and systems that exacerbated and caused the apocalypse. Whether we recognize it or not, our world is a post-apocalyptic one; epidemics, disasters, wars and genocides all dramatically alter our status-quos revealing the pressures that give rise to the tempestuous apocalypse in the first place. Centering the idea that apocalypses are real, have happened, and will continue happening is important as it reminds us that the “apocalypse”, often thought of as the end of the world, is in actuality a liminal transitional period. Understanding too that addressing and alleviating these pressures before the apocalypse can prevent them or their scale. 

This brings me to perhaps one of the most positive portrayals of a post-apocalyptic world, the world of Ooo in the cartoon series Adventure Time. By the time of the events of the main story, the world is removed from the apocalypse by a whole millennium. New societies and people populate the world, humans become fewer in number, but the world just keeps on turning. The series’ final episode even ends on this note, foreshadowing a nigh-apocalyptic event that seemingly eliminated characters that we knew, but not the world of Ooo itself. Music plays a large role in the show and it is somewhat fitting how the communal group number “Time Adventure” stops the apocalypse by uniting the previously aggrieved and conflicting groups through the powers of memory and harmony. In my mind, this is still an apocalypse, just one with a different revelation than we are used to. In this apocalypse harmony is what is revealed. To borrow a phrase from the song, apocalypses “will happen, happening, happened”; apocalypses, like care and violence, reject a simplistic moral reckoning that reduces the factors and pressures of, and responses to, the apocalypse into a simple genre-savvy box.  Apocalypses demonstrate the capacity for both care and violence, even and especially in times of severe stress and duress. And most of all apocalypses highlight our capacity to move forward, in some form or another, and to confront these pressures before they are thrust forth through traumatic events.

The Tip of the Typhoon: Telling the Story of Typhoon Tip in the Digital Age

Written By: Maris Breaton, Amber Ellis, Grace Lorenz, Hailey Bernet, Sydney Close, Tyara Oliver, Billy Noel

Typhoon Tip, also dubbed Typhoon Warling by Filipino meteorologists, began in the South Pacific, originating from a low-pressure monsoon trough on October 4th, 1979.  The monsoon trough is located in the West Pacific Ocean, between the Philippines and the Marshall Islands stretching through the Caroline Islands. Tip was originally rendered small by Tropical Storm Roger, sucking up the strong flow of waters close to the equator. Tip was to the southeast of Roger, near the Pohnpei state of Micronesia. Even with these initially unfavorable conditions and a relatively slow development, Tip could not be stopped from forming. The typhoon originated as a tropical depression that steadily morphed into a Tropical Storm before eventually being classified as a typhoon on October 9th. The conditions of Typhoon Tip quickly escalated and by October 11th, Tip was classified as a super typhoon.  With winds and rain spanning almost half as large in diameter as the continental United States, Super Typhoon Tip set a world record for the largest tropical cyclone (Science and Society). Tip continued to get stronger over the Western Pacific and reached peak intensity on October 12th. The central pressure of the typhoon at this point was among the lowest pressures associated with tropical cyclones. Tip’s circulation patterns were some of the largest on record with 1,380 miles in diameter. After its peak as a super typhoon, Typhoon Tip gradually weakened but continued raging as a typhoon for several days as it carried on moving in a western–northwestern direction. Typhoon Tip continued to weaken and shrink as it curved toward the northeast on October 17th. Two days later on October 19th, Typhoon Tip came into contact with the Japanese island of Honshu where it quickly started to decline, then becoming extratropical over northern Honshu in just a few hours. The last observation of Tip was near the Aleutian islands of Alaska around October 22nd, 1979. 

Throughout October of 1979, Tip’s storms and winds impacted several nations, taking the lives of nearly a hundred people, leaving thousands homeless, and causing several millions of dollars in damage. Before eventually making landfall, Tip passed over the Philippines, where several ships were grounded or sunk and their crews were no doubt traumatized by these encounters at sea. Initially passing over Guam on October 9th and still identified as a tropical storm, Tip poured down heavy rainfall, causing over $1.6 million in damages and showing no signs of slowing down. Growing in force, Tip continued churning and rained down on the Philippines on October 13th. Between October 13th and 19th, Tip trailed northwestward up “Typhoon alley” and caused massive damage to the fishing industries of Okinawa and other islands of the East China Sea. The flooding, rains, and storm surge cost over 22,000 homes in Japan alone. More than 600 triggered landslides there likewise played a part in the overall damage wrought. It marked the most devastating storm to Japan in a period of 13 years. 

The typhoon’s damages in Japan are the most documented, particularly those caused at the US Marine Base on Honshu, Camp Fuji. Fuel was released from fuel farm stores due to high-level winds disconnecting fuel attachment hoses and the rains eroding a retaining wall, spilling 5000 gallons of fuel–massive fires began near American military housing after the heaters ignited the spilled fuel.  Over 600 mudslides and 22000 flooded homes in Japan left 11,000 people homeless. In a camp of American Marines at Mount Fuji, 13 marines were killed. The total cost of Japanese loss was not officially tracked, but several million dollars of damage are estimated. The Philippines were also impacted by the typhoon however not as severely as Japan was. The typhoon caused heavy rainfall in the Philippines because of the rainbands it created. Guam also received heavy rainfall as a result of Typhoon Tip. China was also impacted when a Chinese freighter with a crew of 46 was split and sunk, luckily all 46 members of the crew were rescued. Other places such as Alaska, the Korean Peninsula, and Russia were impacted by Typhoon Tip but little to no information can be found on these impacts. The invisibility of economic hard numbers crystallizes the erasure of pacific impact and the inaccessibility to reliable statistics about the Pacific region in American-centric media. The name wasn’t retired because it was not deemed to have catastrophic enough consequences– we question how that could be said about consequences which are not reliably or consistently tracked. Amanda Delaney, a meteorologist who reflected on Typhoon Tip when writing about Super Typhoon Haiyan writes: “typically hurricane reconnaissance planes do not investigate typhoons in the Western Pacific however, with this system [Typhoon Tip] being close to the U.S. Air Force bases in Guam and Japan, investigating was permitted at the time” (Delaney). Evidently, Tip demonstrated that US hurricane reconnaissance was, to at least some degree, dependent on American lives.

Though no immediate art from the wake of the Typhoon was able to be observed, there seems to be an emergence of creative expression based on Typhoon Tip in the 2010s and 20s. The art that has emerged takes the story of Tip and uses it in different ways. In some retellings, the artist takes Tip’s story and uses their own creative liberty to change some of the details to suit the character that is supposed to embody the Typhoon, hence making Tip’s story their own. In a way this art is turning Tip into a surrogate, a substitute. Tip is being used as a vessel to tell and deliver the story they want to. Seeing people who take a disaster and make it their own can sometimes make you ask yourself whether it is morally acceptable and right. If you did not experience it, if it did not impact you, is it okay to claim something that negatively impacted many people as your own? One of the artists we found named HurakaYoshi took to humanizing the storm and making it a character of their own. Something interesting that we saw was that the person who made the art seemed to know it could be seen as offensive since they left this disclaimer in their description, “My characters are based on real life tropical cyclones. This is not meant to offend or disrespect people who were affected by these storms.” Whether one should or shouldn’t take offense to this form of expression, is an inner debate that might not have a definitive answer and will be perceived differently by each individual who comes across it. These creative expressions of Tip also seem to work to turn the typhoon into an effigy, Tip is being used as the model for these expressions. In “Echoes of the Bone”, the effigy is described as a skill that allows for performance to produce memory through surrogation (Joseph Roach). This description aligns with the art created from Typhoon Tip because creating this art is a performance that helps keep the memory of Tip alive and people are using Tip as a surrogate for what they want to express. 

Not all art based on this storm invoices this kind of moral debate, however. There are some other artists who retell Tip’s story word for word in video form in order to inform more people about the course the Typhoon took and the destruction it caused in its wake. There wasn’t only artforms that expressed the story of Tip, but instead on that was dedicated to the remembrance of certain individuals. The Marine camp at Mount Fuji, where 13 Americans lost their lives due to fires from the storm, produced a stone memorial and yearly tradition to commemorate the American lives lost during Tip. This memorial is observed annually on the anniversary of the Typhoon making landfall in Japan and serves to emphasize the impact of Warling (Filipino name given to Tip) on American lives while simultaneously undercutting the fact that these marines were on foreign soil, populating someone else’s land– who also experienced loss. Instead, this hyper-American response immortalizes Americans on someone else’s shores, explicating the ever-American desire to somehow claim land. The memorials set up for the marines that lost their lives while completely ignoring the Japanese people living there that also lost their lives and loved ones is an example of the way many Americans view their lives as more valuable than the lives of people living in foreign countries.

1st Marine Division > Units > 5TH MARINE REGT > 2nd Battalion 4th ...

In considering Typhoon Tip/Warling, it is important to remember that though this is referred to as “the most closely documented storm”, that is referring to the physical storm itself rather than its human impact. What was deemed worthy of monitoring was the storm and its course, which reveals our human preoccupation with a desire to possess or dominate nature through knowledge over care for other human beings. There is not a consistent human death or economic damage toll– many of the sources which we referred to would either give varying numbers of victims and some affected areas did not have an economic impact at all.  Had a storm of this capacity hit the United States or one of its territories, there would have been an extreme amount of care taken in precise and consistent numbers reported– be that for vanity or performance of care, we could not say. The memorial erected in Japan to honor the loss of those American lives  crystallizes the American-centric view on not just this storm, but global meteorological events. Inability to track down even a consistent death toll or economic damage total for every island hit seems to hone in on a sincere lack of interest by other countries in either rebuilding or merely genuinely understanding the human impact of the storm. We had some difficulty in tracking down art made as a response to this disaster, which serves to incorporate the course concepts of “forgetting” and “performance”. Surely this Typhoon was not forgotten, but there was a lack of care in preserving artistic responses to the storm, which in turn, serve the purpose of forgetting. In the digital era, there is much easier access to photographs, songs, and other art made by professionals and amateurs alike. In 1979, the digitization age had not yet had its advent and it seems that much from that time relating to this storm was never digitized. Without those archives, it is difficult to explore empathy with the people who survived Tip, and we have to consider that there is much archival information that we do not have access to.

Environmental Violence in New Orleans: Finding Culpability in Forgetting

In January 2018, Beau Evans released an article entitled “46 tons of Mardi Gras beads found in clogged catch basins,” detailing the efforts and struggles of city officials and communities of New Orleans in cleaning up the waste in the city’s pivotal if ineffectual storm drainage system. The act of mass littering, much like the creation and maintenance of unsustainable architecture, is a form of environmental violence. Environmental violence encompasses everything from ecologically-damaging policies and practices, to humanity’s effects on climate change, and even to the human impacts felt as a result of environmental degradation. Interestingly, environmental violence is defined as a one-way street: it concerns the human impact on the environment, the world, and even on themselves or other humans. Despite the churning destructive wrath that hurricanes and other natural disasters bring upon the world and its biomes, it is we, humans, who are the perpetrators of environmental violence. 

When considering the City of New Orleans, evidence of environmental violence lies not just in the beads clogging the catch basins, but also in the spiked lead levels in the soil. It can be found in the levies that buckled and tipped from the force of Hurricane Katrina, the public service announcements that promised the levees would hold, and the private meetings in which engineers admitted they wouldn’t. Award-winning Director Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke chronicled the events of Hurricane Katrina. Lee collected testimonials, interviews, and footage of the devastation, aftermath, and strength of the survivors, compiling them into a narrative (or series of narratives) to tell a story both affective and effective. In the documentary, we see a damning indictment of the US Army Corps of Engineers, who confess that the levees could not withstand even a Category 3 hurricane. The Corps likewise lied to residents by telling them to rest assured that the levees would be rebuilt to pre-Katrina condition, a condition that while supposedly strong, tipped over and broke unleashing immeasurable damage and catastrophe (Lee). New Orleans, the land, remembered what the Army Corps of Engineers repeatedly fails to, that New Orleans is a land of water. 

Surrounded by water on all sides, built atop wetlands and swamps, New Orleans is marvelously solid though thoroughly unsustainable. According to Rebecca Snedeker, one of the writers and activists behind Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, the numerous pumps, pipelines, and canals lauded by some as feats of life-supporting infrastructure have proved to be life-draining in practice, sinking the city deeper down, thus rendering the city more prone to flooding, oxidizing the soil, and requiring complex maintenance (that often goes awry); Snedecker likens New Orleans to a “cement lily pad” borrowing the name from Monique Verdin, a Houma photographer (Snedeker 156). A sustainable future for New Orleans, with open canal streets, mindful reforestation of the swamplands, and an end to excessive groundwater pumping would conversely keep the city afloat (Snedeker 158). Such a future would acknowledge the City’s nature and attempts to work within it, as opposed to against it. We must not forget that only by remembering the land and what sustains it can we hope to forge a sustainable future. 

In “Echoes in the Bone”, the second chapter of the book Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance, Joseph Roach discusses how memory, when performed, can empower the living; Roach also argues that “violence is the performance of waste” (Roach 41). To get to the heart of what Roach means by this and why these observations and definitions matter, we must start by breaking down the internal components of these claims. 

Violence is a poison, introducing toxins, producing waste byproducts, and expending limited resources in what Roach calls, borrowing from Bataille, “catastrophic expenditure” (Roach 41). Violence and superfluous expenditure (i.e. wasteful spending) are interlocked. To return to the tons of Mardi Gras beads clogging the catch basins, the violence is starkly evident. The beads, at one point carried by the tourists who flocked to the historic city for an unforgettable time, are themselves discarded and forgotten. Discarded but not disappeared, these beads piled up in critical areas, threatening lives and livelihoods not to mention the city’s coffers and infrastructure. The beads themselves, symbols of celebration and disposability, are cheap and plastic, often distributed at no or low costs. They are easily, without hesitation, tossed aside when their brittle nature betrays them, or the sun comes up, or the hangover hits. The tourists leave New Orleans but the beads remain. Ultimately, it is the City of New Orleans and its peoples that are forced to reckon with the memory, the tonnage of beads, and the millions of dollars their removal will cost. So powerful are the desires of tourists for consumable, forgettable, and disposable culture, and so effective the violent performance, that nowhere in Evans’ article does he mention a burden on tourists to consider the waste they leave behind. Instead, the burden falls on New Orleans residents who must “step up” to clear their own neighborhoods of catch basin debris (Evans). Many local residents spearhead litter collection operations, often as part of charitable and/or sustainability missions, however the tourists have left by then. As part of Roach’s own breakdown of his quote, that “violence is the performance of waste” Roach describes violence as a performance due to the existence of an audience to witness or even receive the violence (Roach 41). Violence requires a victim (or victims), and its existence draws attention to itself. Whether it’s the Army Corps of Engineers maintaining and defending their ineffectual levees or tourists disregarding their bead debris, or any other act of violence for that matter, there is always an audience to witness the violence and the waste resulting. If memory can be performed to “empower the living” as Roach states, the case of the discarded colorful beads proves that the opposite is also true. The performance of forgetting and ignorance serves to disempower and even enact violence upon the living. 

To return to Roach’s statement about the performance of memory potentially being empowering, it’s important to keep in mind that memory is not set in stone. Memory is intangible, yet realer than real. Both fixed and fluid. When we invoke memory in ways that move, challenge, encourage, or propel us we often make use of effigies. An effigy can be anything or anyone, it is a surrogate (i.e. the replacement of something/someone) that stands in for the original.  They may be physical representations of disliked politicians, or could be immaterial like the insistence that something is in accordance with what a respected departed community member would have wanted. The dead make powerful surrogates and effigies, but they are not the only group or individuals who can be conscripted into serving some purpose according to Roach (Roach 36). We are also not the sole possessors of memory, for within nature itself memories are embedded. 

Memory is quite empowering, environmentally-speaking. Climate change, long debated among politicians but accepted as scientific fact, profoundly affects our realities in many ways that are getting increasingly difficult to ignore or forget. Even blockbuster thriller films from nearly 20 years ago such as The Day After Tomorrow (2004) reckon with the West’s willingness to forget or ignore climate catastrophes and the role that governments, institutions, and individuals play in creating and mismanaging them. The same goes for the ecologically-damaging extraction of oil and other resources, not to mention the tangible long-known and injurious effects of disposing industrial waste improperly. Green sustainable policy and movements are still being stonewalled in the halls of power; despite a majority consensus among US adults that climate change is real and will affect US citizens in the next 10 years, 59% already believing the effects are currently being felt, (Yale Climate Opinions Map 2021), remarkably little is achieved when it comes to curtailing the root causes of human-driven climate change. Of course, I’d be remiss to not mention the strength that today’s climate movements find in the memory, veneration, and critique of the contributions of past activists. Denial of climate change is not only unpopular nationally, but inevitably serves violent ends, obfuscating blame from the culpable actors and institutions, preventing both introspection and retrospection, in addition to reliably ensuring that natural catastrophes will not be properly prepared for.  

While the discarded beads may represent forgetting on the part of individuals, or even tourist culture as a whole, Rebecca Solnit, the other writer behind Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, points out that the lies and forgetting done by those with power is “another thing altogether” (Solnit 147). These lies, obfuscations of fact and justice, result in lasting legacies. Environmentally-speaking, Solnit discusses how the scientists who were studying connections between lead (the heavy metal) and human health lied regarding the health risks of lead contaminants (Solnit 150). Because using lead in gasoline and paint was deemed useful and profitable, the health risks were hidden from the public and disregarded. In the saturated city of New Orleans the lead easily infiltrated the water supply in certain areas, making testing a regular requirement for children, who are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of lead poisoning (Solnit 150). The scientists and those raking in profits weren’t affected personally by the lead runoff, so they forgot or ignored the problem, so long as it wasn’t their problem. When those people and institutions with power and influence forget something, don’t report on it, or misrepresent reality (i.e. the levees will be strong and at pre-Katrina strength) the lasting legacies are grievous and violent.