Every time we speak of certain cities, we are saying something about Venice. When CNN.com asked its readers for their thoughts on the reconstruction of New Orleans, one Mississippi resident responded, “New Orleans has always had a European feel to it. Why not enhance this by making it like Venice, Italy? Leave the areas that didn’t flood as they are and make the rest like Venice with canals for roads and the houses and properties on concrete ‘islands.'” This was not one individual’s fantasy. Elsewhere, numbers of Americans confirmed the idea. “Rebuild New Orleans as a water-street city,” wrote a blogger. “It’s the natural way to solve all its problems,” a post that received a significant number of affirmative comments: “Good idea …”; “I really like this idea”; “It’s interesting that you’ve posted this idea, because I was thinking the exact same thing today”; “I think that this is a beautiful idea as long as someone finds a new home for all of the alligators.” As the hurricane was a “natural” disaster, Venice would be the “natural” outcome. Where did this sort of thinking come from? Bombay, which in early August suffered the worst floods in its history—at least a thousand dead, and twenty million displaced or homeless—never aroused a whisper of Venice. Its charming colonial architecture aside, to most observers, Bombay is already a disaster, not merely one waiting to happen.
more from Nikil Saval at n+1 here.